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The Fall play ...

Jan. 23 Royal Festival Hall, London, on the same bill as the Magic Band.
Feb. 2 The Barfly, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1. With McLusky and Jarcrew. Tickets were available here, although it looks like all three London dates are sold out.
Feb. 3 The Barfly, London. With Jeffrey Lewis and Ill Ease.
Feb. 4 The Barfly, London. With Pink Grease and Selfish Cunt. Many thanks to Graeme for sending in this Barfly flyer.
Feb. 18 The Dome, Morecambe, near Lancaster. Tickets £14 from the venue, or £15.50 (inc. p&p) from the Tourist Board - 01524 582808.
Feb. 19 The Brickyard, Carlisle. £14 advance, available from 01228 534664.
Feb. 20 Magnum Leisure Centre, Irvine. With John Cooper Clarke.
Feb. 21 Renfrew Ferry, Glasgow. With John Cooper Clarke. £14 advance, available from 01698 265511
Feb. 22 The Venue, Edinburgh. With John Cooper Clarke.
Feb. 23 Lemon Tree, 5 West North Street, Aberdeen. With John Cooper Clarke. Tickets £15, available in person or by phoning (01224) 642230. Thanks to David for sending in the poster.
Feb. 24 Blue Nightclub, Rose Street, Inverness. With John Cooper Clarke.
Feb. 25 Fat Sams, Dundee. With John Cooper Clarke.
Feb. 26 Newcastle Opera House, Newcastle. Tickets £15, doors 6:30pm, showtime 7:30pm. With John Cooper Clarke. Box office 01 91 232 0899.
Feb. 27 Town Hall Crypt, Middlesbrough. With John Cooper Clarke.
Feb. 28 Ocean Room, Scarborough Spa Complex, with John Cooper Clarke. Tickets £14.
Feb. 29 Fibbers, Stonebow House, York. With John Cooper Clarke. Advance tickets £14; £15 on the door. 0870 9070 999
Mar. 1 Fibbers, Stonebow House, York. With John Cooper Clarke. Advance tickets £14; £15 on the door. 0870 9070 999
Mar. 3 Bierkeller, Bristol. With John Cooper Clarke and Pubic Fringe. To be confirmed, according to their website.
Mar. 4 Carling Academy 2, Liverpool. With John Cooper Clarke and Pubic Fringe. Advance tickets £14.
Mar. 5 Irish Centre, Birmingham. With John Cooper Clarke? and Pubic Fringe. Advance tickets here.
Mar. 6 Bridgewater Hall, Manchester - MES spoken word. Tickets (£16.50) available from 0161 9079000 and online. Show will also feature Howard Devoto, John Cooper Clarke and "special guest Pete Shelley."

Thanks to Jim for sending in the Scottish dates flyer:

I've heard that Action are sorting out a US licensing deal for TRNFLPFCOTC and they're planning a US tour to support it.


Mark was interviewed recently for "The Evening Sequence with Tom Robinson" on BBC 6FM. They played some old rockabilly and Can tracks as well as some Fall tracks, and when the show airs around mid-March, they hope to play the b-side of the next single, which I guess will be released soon afterwards. More details when I get them.


From the 1988 Smash Hits Sticker Collection; thanks to Nigel for scanning it in:



Many thanks to Marco for scanning in this cartoon from the latest Vice magazine. Click the excerpt for the complete version.


You may remember reading about the Durutti Column vs. The Fall photography exhibition that took place in Manchester late last year. The Fall photographer, Michael Pollard, very kindly sent me several excellent Fall photos he took in 1984/85 to publish on the website. Thanks, Michael!


Many thanks to Stuart for scanning in the Allied Propaganda MES interview from 1983. It's a little hard to read in places - most of it's legible though.


Royal Festival Hall, London, Jan. 23:

from the Independent:

The Fall / The Magic Band, Royal Festival Hall, London
by Tim Cumming
28 January 2004

A few minutes into The Fall's opening number, Mark E Smith saunters on to the voluminous stage of the Royal Festival Hall, drops his jacket by the drums and sets about dismantling his mic-stand. A dream joint billing of two cult bands it may be, but for Smith it's business as usual, and over the next hour he sets about recreating the off-hand menace of a Fall gig by cuffing his bass-player, twiddling with the amps, poking mics into the drumkit and delivering a three-note keyboard solo with his hand behind his back, his body corkscrewed, like some malevolent modern-dress Richard III.

In his workaday blue shirt, grey trousers and shiny black shoes, Smith cuts the gloriously uncharismatic figure of a coach-driver on a fag-break. His vocals are a challenging bawl of falling vowels, words indecipherable beyond gut recognition, but Smith on stage remains a man with presence, toying sardonically with audience expectations. You can almost see him smile, but he doesn't, quite.

The latest version of The Fall delivers a stripped-down, pounding set dominated by material from last autumn's Country on the Click. There's a rousing rockabilly threesome in the middle - "Mr Pharmacist", "F-Oldin Money" and a ramshackle cover of "Walk like a Man" that's as loose as a torn string vest - before the band dive into "Theme to Sparta FC" and, for the closing number, a surprise resurrection of "Mere Pseud Mag Ed".

The Magic Band open the second half of the bill with the R&B nostalgia of "Diddy Wah Diddy" before segueing into an entirely different universe with "Smithsonian Institute Blues", from the era of Lick My Decals off, Baby. The drummer John "Drumbo" French is the band's wild-eyed front man, in white hat and trench coat, and thankfully his adoption of Captain Beefheart's mantle is a convincing one.

Drumbo and The Magic Band fill this music to the brim, and for the generations who have only ever heard the records - the Captain himself abandoned ship more than 20 years ago - it is a thrillingly visceral experience to hear the likes of "Click Clack" and "Sun Zoom Spark" in the flesh.

The Magic Band are crack players; what elevates them high above the rank of tribute band is their shared history in the making of this extraordinary music. Beefheart may have been the dominating force and composer, but it was The Magic Band who turned his directives into music that could be played. All this concert lacks is the unpredictable electricity of the Captain's presence. Like Smith, Beefheart would probably have been more interested in testing than fulfilling audience expectations.

But fulfilled they are. Drumbo's exuberant vocal performances frame the intense instrumental heart of the set, which draws on Trout Mask Replica and the likes of "Abba Zabba" and "Alice in Blunderland". They are more sound-sculptures than songs, their skewed dynamics reinvigorated by the physicality and zest of the musicianship. The Magic Band may once have been half-starved freaks living on mung beans, but a lifetime later they are seriously heavy dudes - less old farts at play; more a classic band playing at the top of their game.

From the Evening Standard, January 26, 2004 (p. 53):

It's magic, with just a hint of beef.


The Magic Band...Festival Hall

THE Fall's Mark E Smith is popular music's wild card. He strides around the stage wearing a shirt-and-slacks combo seemingly borrowed from an old-fashioned shop-floor agitator. Like that ancient breed, he is always cross about something, although what that might be is open to question as his specially constructed microphone removes all hint of sense from the English language, leaving him free to indulge in purely sonic railing.

When the tension becomes unbearable, he adjourns to his jacket, which is hanging by the drum kit, for a rummage.

My guess is that he's searching for a wad of chewing tobacco. At other moments, a spirit of interference overcomes him as he bashes at the tom-tom, pokes viciously at the toy keyboard, or fiddles with the bass-guitar amp, trying to find 11.

The Fall's music remains resolutely post-punky, a cranky journey to nowhere, but Smith remains a most unlikely alchemist, a riveting performer who comes across as a malevolent Stan Laurel that you just want to hug. Except that wouldn't be a good idea.

Much more huggable in every way are The Magic Band, erstwhile purveyors of the soundtrack to Captain Beefheart's cockeyed blues dreams, and now in the rather peculiar position of being a tribute band to their former selves.

When they were much younger men, the Captain allegedly locked them in a small room to practise until perfect, hour after hour, day upon day, feeding them only handfuls of soya beans. Since that benevolent despot retired to the desert to paint, his former pupils have kept up with their lessons admirably, but have allowed the dietary side of life to get quite out of control. The last time I saw Mark "Rockette Morton" Boston on stage - around 1974, admittedly - he looked nearly as sleek as his nickname.

Now he looks like a jolly escapee from The Beverly Hillbillies who has eaten all the hominy grits.

The focal point of the band now is John "Drumbo" French, the longstanding drummer who is blessed with a near facsimile of Beefheart's growl.

With a stand-in drummer, The Magic Band gives us the Captain's greatest hits.

French nods to his ex-boss with the choice of fedora and trenchcoat, and his mouth-organ playing is suitably waspish, and if one's eyes were shut during such zingers as Sun Zoom Spark or the unbearably affecting Grow Fins, then it was almost possible to believe in real magic.

No matter, memories don't come much better than this. From the early strains of Mirror Man, through the classic rumble of When It Blows Its Stacks, to the essential desert-island disc that is Big-Eyed Beans From Venus, the Magic Band led us a merry dance. It's just that missing edge that niggles. I wonder how they'd be with Mark E Smith up front?


I'd already started booking the tickets for the Magic Band before I knew the my all-time fave band would be the support act!

Full house, lots of whom were there to see the Magic Band of course. All seater, with lots of people coming in and out during the Fall's set.

I last saw the Fall in the Unutterable line-up and was very impressed. Fall came on...... not overly impressed with the sound. The bass was was too low range, not the driving middly sound required for the Fall backbone. Sounded best when Ben was playing more lead-y guitar, and when there was backing vocals. Keyboards not always audable, but were welcome when you could hear them. Elanor had her hair down, dark clothes,and looked good. I thought MES vocal performance was poor, apart from Mr Pharmicist which was good.

Set list including Mr Pharmicist, Walk Like a man, F-Oldin Money,Middle Mass, Mere Psued Mag Ed, and a bunch of stuff from TRNFAPKACOTC. No Big Priest or Touch Sensitive for example.

Knobs were twiddled and mikes relocated. No walk-offs.

Difficult taking someone to the gig and trying to explain that the Fall are the best band ever!

The Magic Band were great though! It was worth the entrance fee just for John French's coat. Drumbo is a good Captain substitute, and it was great when he got behind the kit for the middle section of the show.

Seeing the Magic Band play a great show without their mentor/leader, and seeing The Fall do a lack-lustre show with theirs makes you wonder about the credibility of the whole granny/bongos theory. What would a collection of ex Fall members sound like doing some sort of showcase...................?

The Sime:

(he writes) ATTENDED THE AND THE MAGIC BAND GIG LAST NIGHT. And The Magic Band were fronted for a few songs by a cap-alike in a white suit and matching fedora (some ex-drummer?) who stayed in character for between song raspy banter. Didn't take away from the excellent music, just seemed like some ('man wearing uneccesary hat' category) saddo enjoying an ego trip in his own parallel universe who happened to be there as well. A very easy character to identify with. A sealed unit. a thoroughly enjoyable gig, mirror man being the highlight, truly ossom. A duffle coat was ripped up in joy.

(and again) THE FALL WAS AN (EVEN) MORE EDGY GIG THAN USUAL, lots of fiddling foreplay, sudden jumps in volume and carefully stepping over mic cables which weren't actually there; the first few songs seemed to be finished off quickly without relish, but finally, to the relief of all present Fallinists (conscious of the tight-lipped gaze and folded arms of the Beefheartist hairy pensioner faction) a climax was unexpectedly reached about two thirds of the way through the set with with an undisputably spanking Sparta. Following this after sex cigarettes were lit and held aloft as the band gelled and locked through janet and Johnny and a few other goodies. The children of these rank and sweaty sheets included Pharmacist which for once was welcomed as a Fallinist rallying point, the proud parents imagining that they were seeing off the Beefheartists in their own terms (the ones that had bothered to switch their hearing aids on anyway).

Result : a 1-1 draw. Fall a good performance, winning no new fans but leaving self-respect of existing fans intact, unpredictability keeping alive the suspicion that here is something more than an archive of past recordings.

And the magic band - musically excellent, well preserved and presented. Looking forward to their return in 2014.


The Sime refers to John French as possibly 'some ex-drummer'. It should be pointed out that he was in the Magic Band for over half of their 17-odd years, at several different points, also as an occasional guitarist, and crucially, the transcriber/ arranger of Beefheart's compositions for the 'Trout Mask Replica' album, so 'some ex-drummer' does diminish his achievements somewhat!

Enjoyed the Fall too...it was interesting seeing a 'sloppy' Fall show (with all the mike-fiddling etc) after the Islington show last month which was fairly tight/ uneventful. Particularly enjoyed MES dropping his mike (during 'Middle mass'?) and theatrically declaiming the lyrics into thin air for a minute or two before resuming...


My course last week was transferred to London so I did get to see the Fall and the Magic Band at the RFH (Nick came up too). Very disappointed with MES and co. The band was enthusiastic enough but Mark seemed to be not interested in it at all. There was much twiddling on amps, keyboards and moving the drum mics to no advantage whatsoever. Also the worst, slurred delivery I've heard from MES and he was not bothering with all the words. This was not a patch on the recent live recordings you've sent which seemed full of energy. Much the same set list as recent gigs but with an awful cover of "Walk like a Man", at least I think that's what it was. A two minute punk thrash of "The Joke" was disrespectful for such a classic track. The keyboard sound was pitiful, as Nick said "Is all the new stuff so 'Rock' sounding?" Thinking about it, apart for Mark's slurred vocal this could be any guitar/bass/drums combo from the early eighties.

However, the Magic Band was superb. It was difficult without the vocals to recognise some of the tracks but Drumbo did a decent interpretation of the good captain's vocal on stuff like "Diddy Wah Diddy", "Abba Zabba", "Electricity", "Nowadays a Man....", "Mirror Man" and , of course, "Big Eyed Beans...". They had some sound problems, stopping one track just after starting it, although me and Nick couldn't hear anything wrong. Gary Lucas did seem to be twiddling with his guitar tuning all the time and I think some of the dual guitar parts were missing. Amazingly both the Fall bassist and Rockette Morton managed to unplug their basses by stepping on the cord, Rockette during his solo, embarrassingly! Where Drumbo wasn't singing he played some amazing drum patterns and most things came out pretty well.


I've only seen The Fall twice, first at C.A. London on dec. 7th last, and again at the Festival Hall, which, for both those reasons is why I'm writing. Their performance was first class each time. The first wasonly better cause they played longer, but there was definitely something special about the second. My 18 years experience of listening to the fall told me that M.E.S. was feeling particularly glad about something. Now this could simply have been him looking forward to sitting back and being entertained for a change, but from the expression on what I could make out of his face, the white of his eyes and his teeth, as he left the stage and jumped into the darkness of the pit I'd swear it was something a bit more manc than that. Or maybe it was just the way that the Beefheart fans, some of whom thought the Clash were playing that night, suddenly realized that they had no option but to listen and accept the bombast. This whitewashing of faces from amidst the black & leather took place gradually at first so that by the end of Theme from Sparta FC the applause that went up was not merely loud and fast but also in perfect timing.

In fairness I was equally impressed by the main act although I had a vague idea what to expect cause my big Bro's a Beefy fan. In fact he may even have been there. Yeah. Anyway, the bass player in particular grabbed my attention when he launched into a solo that must've been heard outside, or at least it would have been untill he yanked out the lead to his amp., the jack plug was obviously loose. Bleedin crew filth . He soon recovered, and before the band got into some proper tunes they all had a little solo stint. I wanted to hear a lot more of Mantis ( Fender, I think ) but I had to go for a bus, really I had to go. Might get some of their stuff in the summer tho' .

There are several reviews and links on the message board.


Barfly, London, Feb. 2:

Luke Turner wrote about the Barfly gigs for the Stereo Effect website.

Thanks to Stuart for the Time Out scan - sorry about the quality.


Highlight: The crowd grabbed a microphone and started singing along. Annoyed bouncers wrestled
it off the crowd and put it back on stage. Mark picked it up and with a knowing smile handed it
back to the crowd.

MES in top smiley form!

Setlist and ticket attached:

Johnny Jawbone:

Great gig. MES didn't fuck around too much, seemed sober and in good cheer. Played (in no order): Loco Man, Mountain, Sparta, Contraflow, Boxoctosis, Janet, Pharmacist, Middle Mass, Mere Pseud, White Lightning (the one and only encore).


Call yourselves bloody professionals? In almost the correct order. Boxoctosis / Mountain Energei / Green Eyed Loco Man / Middle Mass / Janet + James / Mr Pharmacist / Sparta F.C. / Mere Pseud Mag Ed / Contraflow // White Lightning /

Went to see Crawley Town FC play, due to kick off at 3, they finally turned up at 3:45, played a blinding first half, though without using some of their better set pieces, but didn't bother coming out for the second period. Not to worry, it was a compact ground and I was really close to the pitch.

I knew the Monarch from years ago when my mates used to play downstairs on a Sunday afternoon, and was really looking forward to seeing The Fall in such an intimate venue. Caught the end of McLusky, and they were entertaining enough and probably played the longer set. And then the wait.

. finally, the main attraction, the opening number, Boxoctosis and the sound is fantastic, Ben's guitar is the best thing in the band for an age, while Evets [Dingo, not Steve Evets, I believe - ed] and the drummer drive it along splendidly, Elini tinkering and twinkling in the corner, and then Mr. Smith, somewhat wizened, but seemingly on fine form, smiling, chatting, twiddling. Through Energei, Loco, onto an immense Middle Mass, dynamic Sparta and Pharmacist, a highlight in Janet + James, Mere pseud mag, then Contraflow, a deserved and heroic epic, and great as a centrepiece to any set, but no, that is it, the last number. Off for five minutes, then back for a mechanical White Lightning. And that really is it. No Xyralothep, no Xeragon, no Dr Bucks, no Big Prinz, no Past, no F...olding and no Walk like a Man.

Feel a bit cheated. Someone, somewhere fucked up, the band; their management or the venue, who even had the cheek to announce that the bar was still open! So why the fifty-five minute delay? We spent more time watching an empty stage than the band, though I didn't have the added stress of spending the last half hour worrying whether I'd be able to get the last train home. No, I'd driven up from Brighton, two hours there, three hours in Camden, including 45 minutes from The Fall, and an hour and a half back. I did get to drive past my old squat and local (the Parrs Head), and other nostalgia of NW1.

Was it worth it? Sorry to go on, but the set was even shorter than the Worthing debacle in '96 but with neither the car crash entertainment nor a money back offer. Nor was the set as interesting as the last Concorde show in Brighton, half a dozen off the RNFLP, but not the most fascinating ones.

But I'll shut up and conclude it was worth it, twenty-six years since I first encountered Mr. Smith he is still the greatest living Englishman, a national treasure to be cherished. But a bit more effort and professionalism or this tour could end in tears.


Barfly, London, Feb. 3:

Reviews and a couple of great photos of Mark on the message board:


In no particular order

Boxoctosis/TelephoneThing/Mountain/LocoMan/Janet&James/Sparta/Contraflow/Middlemass/Walk Like A Man/BourgeoisTown/Pharmacist/NEW BIG PRINZ (awesome)/Encore was Dr Buck's Letter

They played for an hour and it was bloody good.

Jefferey Lewis was also highly entertaining, his Fall documentary was brilliant.


Barfly, London, Feb. 4:

Many thanks to Jaffoon Jaffoon for these photos.

Other Dave:

Okay, I take back my Fallnet comment about the mosphit - fatter, uglier, balder, stupider and for the most part probably even older than me, it's a miracle these pieces of shit manage to stay upright (occasionally) on fewer than four legs.

But what about the muzak? Well, Selfish Cunt: different, that's for sure, but a bit disappointing, though I missed (unforgivably) the first half of their set. Spotted a Bowie-esque influence in parts, but that's probably unfair. Loved the suit. Isn't it time for suits again? Don't tell me, they never went away, I'm just a sad out-of-touch git.

Pink Grease: fun, certainly - the Tubes on <insert designer drug of the moment>? - a bit unusual as a Fall support, but then we're used to that. Haven't made my mind up, but they're danceable, in a sort of warped sad old git kind of way, which is all I know. Worth a listen, and nice folk. And from Sheffield, which has a nice library school.

The Fall: Hmmmmm.... it's all been said, going through the motions etc. In fact the COTC stuff was ace, except for Boxoctosis, which lost something in translation. But Pleeeeeeze spare us the retrospective shit, it was great then, nowadays I can just bung on an LP/CD, or a couple of dozen of them. Pharmacist was good, suiting this lineup, but Ed was awful; encore Lightning shite as always, so no news there.


Many thanks to fallfandave for sending in the Mark E. Smith interview from the Feb. 2004 Jack magazine.

Also, lots of people have pointed out the Pitchfork review of TRNFLPFCOTC.


Cole Coonce wrote about the Fall's return to California in the Pull the Pin section of his excellent kerosenebomb.com - scroll the right frame down a bit to read.


From Anonymous:

Been reading a review copy of Stuart Maconie's forthcoming memoir 'Cider With Roadies'. Within, there's a chapter entitled 'I Am Kurious, Oranj'. Here Maconie reminisces about his first NME cover story, which involved travelling to Edinburgh to attend Michael Clark's Kurious Oranj show and interview Mark E Smith. At the risk of breaching copyright, here's a short excerpt.

"Over an astonishing variety and quantity of drinks, we talked of the events of 400 years before. 'Wasn't James the second a little mad?' I asked over a Drambuie. Smith pulled on his cigarette and glanced furtively and anxiously \ around the room. 'That's as may be, Stuart son. But I'd watch what you say round here.' With a quick nod of his head he indicated the almost deserted snug bar. A man of around eighty with a West Highland terrier was doing the Daily Record quick crossword. The day went on much like this."

He goes on to relay some hilarious MES anecdotes, including some told to him by Dave Cavanagh, and the chapter also features a very erudite assessment of the band and its impact. Elsewhere in the book there's some fascinating stuff about Wigan's northern soul scene, the Happy Mondays, late-'80s NME... It's a great read, to be fair.

Here's another excerpt:

"After one interview, Smith asked him [David Cavanagh] if he'd care to come out for dinner, adding, 'Do you like Turkish food?' David hungrily agreed and ended up eating a doner kebab and drinking a Diet Coke on the plastic stools in the window of an all-night Salford kebab shop."

The book will be published in the UK on February 5, by Ebury Press (a Random House imprint). Here's the Amazon UK entry.


From Jan. 19th's Guardian:

Wild thing

The Fall have seen off almost 40 members - and counting. Tim Cumming hears the perils of working with the band's erratic frontman

'It was like life or death," says Paul Hanley, who was the Fall's drummer in the early 1980s. "I've never, ever come across that intensity, where every gig was the last you were gonna do - or the first you'd ever done. It was like the end of the world if there was a bad gig. The frustrating thing was, I could never tell."

He laughs the weighted kind of laugh that being part of Mark E Smith's band seems to provoke. "Sometimes there were genuinely great performances where everything gelled. Other times it was what was going on in his head. Which accounts for a lot of experiences in the Fall."

Ever since the jarring, garage modernism of the Fall's first album, Live at the Witch Trials, was unleashed in 1979, the band - that is to say, Mark E Smith - has adopted a revolving-door policy. Almost 40 people have at various points accompanied Smith for the all-or-nothing ritual of a Fall gig, among them ex-wife Brix Smith, Marc Riley (now DJ partner of Mark Radcliffe), and drummer Karl Burns, who has joined and left the group eight or nine times [doubtful].

The band's recording legacy is hopelessly clouded, but this year it should be put in working order thanks to the label Sanctuary, which is releasing a batch of remastered albums from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The double set of Live at the Witch Trials is taken from the original masters and is a huge improvement on previous releases. The second album, Dragnet, augmented with stop-start multiple takes of Rausch [sic] Rumble, presents the furiously rough-hewn template of what the Fall were and still are.

"He'd wind things up and then stand back and see what happened," says bassist Steven Hanley of his erstwhile boss, "to get a better performance out of people. Or his idea of a better performance." Hanley preceded his brother Paul into the band in 1978 [1979, for the record]. He provided the main framework of the band's sound for the next 20 years, until his departure during the meltdown of a 1998 American tour, which ended with Smith in jail and his ex-band on the next flight home.

Since that day six years ago, Hanley and Smith have not spoken. He laughs the typical ex-Fall member's laugh. "It was a weird band to have been in," he says. "I think it's totally unique. No other band works like that. It exists in a world of its own. Everyday rules don't apply."

A 16-year-old Marc Riley, initially the Fall's roadie, joined up as guitarist [bassist] on the band's first [second] single, It's the New Thing. He lasted four years. "When it really worked it was phenomenal," he says. "But it could be absolutely bloody awful at times. It was real hand-to-mouth stuff. We'd release an album and tour the next one, so you'd only find, like, three songs in the set, and the rest was new. That's how Mark wanted it, and it was fantastic.

"Mark was already an incredible character," he continues. "He's always been different - his ideas were always great, and his philosophy was always great. We were like sponges, we took it all in. It wasn't easy, and it wasn't easy for the audience, but it was an educational thing. There was a definite choice not to sit there and keep the plates spinning, but to let them drop and move on."

Some of those early 1980s shows are caught in the DVD Perverted by Language: here, the intensity recalled by the Hanley brothers and Riley is palpable, the edginess and total commitment visible in the young faces of the band. "I don't remember the same intensity in the studio, funnily enough," says Paul Hanley. "I don't remember the same focus on getting your head right."

Even now, two decades later, Smith stalks his stage like a ravaged Hurricane Higgins circling the table to pot the last colours. Around him the new Fall cracks out industrial-strength riffs as if they were machine parts, and only rarely are there moments of looseness before the music hardens, becomes riveted - and riveting. For the most part his words are indecipherable, but that's not the point. On a good night with the Fall, Smith acts like a lightning conductor to group and audience.

"The emotions you go through at a Fall gig are unbelievable," says the band's current guitarist, Ben Pritchard. The first time he saw them was at the Ritz in Manchester in the mid-1990s. "I was very naive when I was 15, 16. All that was going on was Blur and Oasis. Then I went to see the Fall and thought, my God, who is this guy? The energy that came out - I'd never seen anything like Mark singing in my life."

By the time Pritchard joined the band, during the sessions for the 2000 album The Unutterable, he had already known Smith for a few years - but still, he says, nothing prepares you for the experience of full contact. "You can go up there and play a blinding gig, but you're a bit scared because you don't know what he's going to do next. I've done gigs when he'd push the drums over, or come over and push me in the face. But one of the great things about Mark is that the way he is on stage is what he's like all the time. And I mean all the time." Cue more laughter. "He purposefully winds us up. It's frightening, the lengths he'll go to make a point."

Recording material for a new album in their bass player Ding's studio in Manchester, the Fall have not strayed far from the blueprint set down in Dragnet in 1979. Only the names have changed. After 25 years and 30 albums, Smith's working methods are more or less unchanged.

"Creatively, it's the best band to be in," says Pritchard, echoing the sentiments of many a past member. "And it's the hardest-working band I've ever been in. But that's the price you pay." When the band walk on to the Festival Hall stage on Friday night to open for Captain Beefheart's legendary Magic Band, it'll be a rare chance to catch them alongside one of their major influences: "Mark knows Trout Mask Replica like the back of his hand," says Pritchard

When Pritchard first joined, Smith remained completely detached, travelling separately and staying out of contact. "He never spoke to us. The only time we'd see him was when he walked out on stage and started." But last year's American tour broke some barriers and brought Smith closer to his musicians, perhaps for the first time in years. "He's really happy with the band," says Pritchard, "the happiest he's been in a long time. And he's told us that. And the fact he's told us that speaks volumes."

Live at the Witch Trials and Dragnet are out now [Jan. 26] on Sanctuary Records. The Fall support the Magic Band at the Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, on Friday. Box office: 020-7960 4242.


Marco's posted a clip of Carry Bag Man from the Sanremo Festival in Italy, 1988, on his site: http://digilander.libero.it/vladiduna/thefallinitalia/


Pascal Le Gras exhibition in Glasgow:

Pascal: I will have an exhibition in jerome lloyd gallery / 200 bath street / glasgow / g2 4hg

there is a website too: www.dentalpractice.com

my exhibition will start on 21th january and run through 25th february.


The Blackburn DVD (in case you've forgotten, a camera crew recorded the Sept. 22, 2002 gig at King George's Hall in Blackburn) is due out March 8, apparently. It's title: A Touch Sensitive: Live.

The DVD will be out on Secret Records, who released that unnecessary Rebellious Jukebox compilation with the MES interview on DVD. They say the Blackburn DVD will be PAL, region 2 (i.e. not playable on region 1-only DVD players), although the interview DVD was NTSC region 0 (playable on all DVD players).


A Sanctuary Fall release update from Conway:

LIVE AT THE WITCH TRIALS & DRAGNET - Both are on target for 26 January release, as originally scheduled. They were at the pressing plant last week.

I've been listening to the CD masters on discman (with good headphones) over the past three weeks and they do sound very good indeed. Dragnet in particular is a lot better than previous CD versions. The Voiceprint 2002 LATWT+ was pretty good; this new one is slightly cleaner and seems to have a better frequency range. The panned toms are fantastic!

The alternate versions on Dragnet are very interesting and there's a little bit of studio chatter that we all agreed should be left in on the final mastering.

I've also reviewed the draft artwork and it looks pretty good. 16 page fold-out booklets with notes by Daryl Easlea on one side and track details & photos, etc on the other.

TOTALE'S TURNS & GROTESQUE - These are next in line, in a couple of months time.

BEST OF - Sanctuary is doing a 40 track, 2 CD best of for April release. For the first time ever, this is a compilation that covers the entire catalogue/all record labels, right up to date (The Real New Fall LP).

It is aimed at casual, first time buyers who have heard about the band or one track and don't know what to get next. As such, it is biased towards the singles (a lot of the Beggars A-sides) and there's nothing new or unreleased on it.

The final tracklisting has been cleared. I'm not going to disclose the tracklisting as it will only result in me getting about a hundred emails from people disagreeing with the songs chosen, even though it's too late.

PEEL SESSIONS BOX SET - This is definitely on for later in the year. 6 CDs, sessions 1-23 complete.


Green-Eyed Loco Man came in at #26 on John Peel's Festive Fifty, while Theme from Sparta F.C. made it to #2 (beaten out of Cinerama's #1 spot by one vote, apparently). You can see the full results and listen in on the BBC's Festive Fifty page.


Many thanks to Ponty Poolie for scanning in the following:

and to fallfandave for these:


Steven Bending's wonderful The Fall Multimedia Project website has Judas Sheep by Marc Riley With The Creepers, and a repeat of the MES slot on Virgin Radio's Razor Cuts (Dec. 1, 2002 - seems like yesterday).



Feb. 10, 2004

This is the latest news and gossip off FallNet for those with weak stomachs.

If you have anything to say, you can mail Stefan, but you can't mail the FallNet mailing list direct anymore. To subscribe to FallNet, send mail to:

ta to biv for this

Recent news...

24dec03 lots of UK gig reviews, Birmingham Post MES interview, details on expanded LATWT and Dragnet CDs, recent NME Fall snippets.
24nov03 TRNFLPFCOTC reviews, HMV gig, Unpeeled interview (w/ Ben) details, Smash Hits '87, Michael Bracewell's most embarrasing moment (and Pseud's Corner finalist), Durutti Column vs. The Fall photo exhibition, Permanent Years / Rebellious Jukebox comp CDs, Fall badges, Reuben's Paintwork title page.
20oct03 Portugal, Manchester, Leeds gigs, book reviews, 1997 MES interview, new LP and single details.
19sep03 Uncut interview, book reviews, "No Place Like It" transcript, a few old press clippings, Bingo Master's 25th anniversary, War Against Intelligence cd, Bootleg Box Set review, book launch party, Masked and Anonymous, Jack magazine, The Lovers on tour, Johnny Cash
 Prindle int. w/Ben, Hip Priest reviews, Live at Phoenix cd, War Against Intelligence cd, Brix int. 1994, Lovers single, web-enabled MES filter
22jul03 US tour reports (second half: Cambridge Dallas), New Yorker cartoon, Simon Spencer RIP, "Idiot Joy Show," Words of Expectation review
01jul03 US tour reports (first leg, thru Cleveland), PBL dvd & User Guide reviews, Jim Watts interviews John French, 1999 MES int., Voiceprint clearance sale
19jun03 Canada, ATP cancelled, the fall uk, Fall books, Damo vs. USA, MCR's greatest frontman, Meltzer, Bad Man Wagon, Adult Net debacle, comp reviews, Brix '87int., MES '82 int., "Idiot Joy Show"
27may03 PBL/Leeds DVD reviews, Aarhus gig, great 1981 MES interview, Smiths Week, Woog Riots tribute, Sanctuary CDs, Rubber Banana Fall radio show
29apr03 ATP, PoSR review, Peel Session & Step Forward CDs, Made in the NW, Jeremy Vine show, bits
28mar03 Jim Watts sacked, Country on the Click details, Peel Session, Turkey gig, 85 & 88 gig photos, Luz's "The Joke" comic, Pascal LeGras new work, MES T-shirt, Fall on emusic, Fall Tattooing rip
24feb03 news about books, Mojo top 50, Claus Fall guitar, Beggars vids, Corsa ad link, 9feb83 + 88oct8 photos, '78 So It Goes clip, Hanley bros interview, several early music press scans, other bits
9jan03 Independent interview, Early Singles, Listening In, UK chart placing history, Razor Cuts, Pascal LeGras video, Record Collector, ring tones, Blue Orchids CDs, Peel's Fabriclive
4dec02 Electric Ballroom gig, Virgin Radio, Fall vs. 2003, MES death row picks, Conway's wallpaper
8nov02 PPP review and lyrics, Dave Harrop, Manchester Online soap opera
15oct02 UK gig reports, 1983 photos, Fall press kit
20sept02 loads of upcoming releases, jigsaws, Vauxhall advert, Mark Prindle int., couple of music press scans, Slates movie clip, Fall Tattooing
23aug02 singles box and Totally Wired reviews, Rocking Vicar, lots of old music press scans
3july02 2G+2 reviews, 6FM mp3, Bourgeois Blues, bits
13jun02 2G+2, Wire 25th anniversay piece, custom Fall gig, PDFs of four old articles
16may02 Blackburn, London, ATP gig reviews, BBC 6FM, Sydney 1990 int., French cartoon
19apr02 US tour cancelled, Mojo article, Select (June 91), bits & pieces
19mar02 Euro tour reviews, Record Collector interview., Wire review, new Fall discog., misc.
13feb02 comp results, Athens review, Bournemouth Runner, Pan
13jan02 Timekode, Pan, bad German translations, NME 2/25/89 interview
02jan02 album reviews, ancient Usenet refs
12dec01 MCR gig reviews, album reviews, Pan
28nov01 mammoth US tour edition
13nov01 first batch of AYAMW reviews, London Forum gig reports
5nov01 Euro gig reports, Knitting Factory Knotes interview
19oct01 UK gig reports, studybees interview
30sep01 tour / booking details, 1979 fanzine interview
9sep01 not much
28aug01 Flitwick single, 82/83 gig pics
27jun01 Faustus
31may01 Dublin pics, Cash for Questions, Guardian interview
29apr01 IR, UK gig reviews
9apr01 NL gig reviews
3mar01 Dublin gig, Invisible Jukebox
28jan01 World Bewitched details
1jan01 some ace Castlefield pics
19dec00 more reviews
1dec00 tour reviews, crap interviews
10nov00 Unutterable reviews
21oct00 Stanza festival, HighSmith Teeth, comedy dogs
11oct00 RFH reviews, new Cog Sinister releases
12sep00 DOSE interview, Fall calendar
22aug00 Portugal, Manchester gigs 
9aug00 bits & pieces
23jul00 Psykick Dance Hall, Pure As Oranj details, Triple Gang reviews
9jul00 few bits
20jun00 Ashton, Hull, Middlesbrough, Glasgow, Edinburgh reviews, old Volume piece
30may00 LA2 reviews
22may00 few old LP reviews
2may00 bits & pieces
24apr00 TBLY #19 details, Prop details
8apr00 more Leeds reviews. WSC interview, other interview snippets
26mar00 Doncaster, York, Leeds reviews, BravEar interview (plus others)
14mar00 various reviews, old Liz Kershaw i/view
24feb00 Past Gone Mad details
13feb00 few bits & pieces
30jan00 tour details, Tommy Blake stuff
20jan00 TBLY #18 details, Hanley in Mojo
10jan00 Dragnet doylum, New Year message, etc

older news: Nov 1997 - Dec 1999