The Fall play ...
||Stubb's Small Room, Austin, Texas (tickets)
||Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas, Texas (tickets)
||Club Congress, Tucson, Arizona (scroll down for tickets)
||Brickhouse Theater, Phoenix, Arizona
||House of Blues, San Diego, CA (link is to tickets)
||Glass House, Pomona, CA (tickets)
||Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA (link is to tickets). Also, Narnack is hosting an "after party" at the Beauty Bar; flyer here.
||Independent, San Francisco, CA (tickets)
||Independent, San Francisco, CA (tickets)
||Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA (link is to tickets)
||The Depot, Salt Lake City, Utah (tickets)
||Boulder Theater, Boulder, Colorado (link is to tickets)
||Record Bar, Kansas City, Missouri (tickets)
||Varsity Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota (tickets)
||Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois (ticketweb)
||Knitting Factory, New York, NY * sold out *
||Southpaw, Brooklyn, NY * sold out *
New Century Hall, Manchester. A 30th anniversary special gig, they say. Fall personnel will be the same as the current US tour lineup.
Tickets from ticketline; Easy Internet Cafe on St Anne's Square, Manchester; King Bee Records, Chorlton; Piccadilly Records, Oldham Street, Manchester; Endless Music, Prestwich. Also from quaytickets.com (£1.50 booking fee).
There's also a party at the NCH following the gig and spaces are limited (100 tickets available). Details on the official Fall site.
||Oya Festival, Oslo, Norway (schedule of bands)
||Reading Festival (Radio 1 / NME stage)
||Leeds Festival (Radio 1 / NME stage)
||Bestival, Robin Hill, Isle of Wight
updated 23 May
Mark was interviewed on 18 May for Eric Lawrence's show Dragnet on Santa Monica's KCRW radio station. The show aired early this morning, but in case you missed it it's been archived on the Dragnet site.
Sadly, the Fall's planned appearance on the Henry Rollins Show on IFC didn't work out. Nor the Brooklyn Lyceum gig on 3 June.
added 23 May
Legend of the Fall by Michael Mannheimer. Los Angeles Alternative, 19 May.
It's 6:50 p.m. on Saturday, and I'm supposed to meet the Fall's infamous frontman Mark E. Smith for an interview in 10 minutes. Hollywood is always a mess on the weekends, and tonight is no different; the three blocks immediately surrounding the Knitting Factory are overrun with middle school tweens hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite Disney Channel stars at some premiere at the El Capitan. I'm deathly afraid of being late, but I have to fight the temptation to run over each and every one of them. My friend and I get to the venue just in time, walk into the designated meeting place, only to hear the horrible strains of some very opening band. No Fall. No Mark E. Smith. And honestly, I'm not that surprised.
I had my reservations coming in; I mean, this is fucking Mark E. Smith. The man is a legend, and for all the wrong reasons. Smith is notorious for his frantic, snarling vocals and abrasive yet oddly melodic music, as well as his behavior, documented by the BBC film The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E. Smith, where Smith is so boozed up that you can barely understand a word he says. Back in the day, Smith and company took punk rock and disfigured the shit out of it—forcing power chord riffs and speed drumming to stay behind Smith's lyrical pontificating. Nowadays, Smith and Co. (different Co. of course) apply the same genre torture to post-punk: invalidating the term one keyboard solo at a time, with barked vocals and a grisly-toothed pop snarl.
So the fact that Smith is not at the “designated meeting spot” doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is running into Smith's very lovely, very welcoming, very sane wife Elena Poulou, who says her husband is waiting in the bar at the Roosevelt Hotel across the street. She instructed me to go to the second floor, and he'd be there.
So we go, and we wait. And wait. I call Poulou, but still no luck, and I soon make a shocking discovery: the Roosevelt Hotel has three bars—one in the restaurant, the private “Library” lounge, and the Tropicana Bar, located next to the pool. Poulou thinks that we are at the wrong one, and that maybe he's at the Tropicana Bar. I can just picture Smith, who's 48 but looks at least 10 years older, tossing back a few shots before tossing himself—curled into a perfect cannonball—straight into the deep end.
Smith has always been an enigma. For 30 years he has been the sole constant in the Fall, one of the most influential bands to emerge from the '80s post-punk era. His personality is both infectious and alienating—as evidenced by the nearly 50 ex-members of the band—and he's got that whole “I'm so cool that I really don't care” thing down cold. Hell, the man practically invented it. He's short, compact and very British. Like a larger version of the backwards talking midget in David Lynch's Twin Peaks.
Smith's stage presence that night—sauntering in late, stumbling to the mic and weaving in and out of the merry musical mess—is almost as awkward. During the set, he roamed around the stage, moving the mic stands, singing into two mics at once, messing with the knobs on all the amps and Poulou's keyboard. He took his coat off and folded it neatly onto one of the stands. One song later, he would put the jacket back on. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. The Fall.
Repetition, then, might be the reason that Smith has been able to make such consistently punishing music during his three decades with the Fall. The band's 25 albums have nothing but Smith's rants holding the songs together. The man simply oozes unpredictability. During the Fall's 1998 tour, Smith was put in jail for one night on assault charges, stemming from a fight with his own band mate. And at a May 8 tour stop in Phoenix, both Smith's backing band and tour opener the Talk quit the tour, supposedly due to an inability to work with Smith. Talk singer Justin Williams threw a banana peel at Smith's head during the show, and the ensuing melee questioned the validity of the remaining North American tour dates.
Immediately following the banana incident, Emmett Kelly of Narnack records (The Fall's American Label) called up bassist Rob Barbato of L.A. band Darker My Love and asked if he was interested in joining Smith for the tour.
“It was kinda shocking, because they were like ‘we need a band' and I was at work. Emmet called me, and he was like, ‘Drive to San Diego, they are canceling the San Diego show and the Pomona show, so you have a little time to rehearse,'” says Barbato. He quickly recruited Darker My love guitarist Tim Presley and old friend and drummer Orpheo McCord, and suddenly they were making music with Smith. “We got together, rehearsed once for three hours, fucking shitting our pants nervous, and I probably smoked three packs of cigarettes that day,” says Barbato. “And Mark has been very nice and respectful to us the whole time. We've had no problems.”
Here lies the problem. Smith seems so spontaneous from day to day, show-to-show, that you never really know what, or who, you are going to get. The Fall's latest record, 2005's Fall Heads Roll, documents a band in a serious deep groove. The songs are long and drony, perfect for Smith to spit both his astute observations and bizarre non-sequiturs over.
Perhaps the former backing band had a problem with the unstructured ramblings, or with the way Smith saunters onstage five minutes into the opening song. But despite his erratic behavior, the blame doesn't always lie with Smith. “People that talk shit on him are people that obviously have treated him a certain way so he reacts that way, and that's totally their problem,” says Presley. “He doesn't like people being around, I understand. But I mean, we have to be pretty vulnerable when we go out on stage but then we come back and regroup, he's very encouraging.”
After running around the Roosevelt Hotel for over an hour (and the ensuing two days worth of failed attempts at a phone conversation), all I have of Smith is that initial image of his entrance, his slight frame pacing the stage erratically, like he was lost, looking for something. Yet, it's a fitting picture of one of rock and roll's biggest puzzles. Is he really a huge egotistical asshole, or as Barbato says, “one chill dude?” Either way, he puts on one hell of a show.
added 22 May
There's a good piece on the 1976-78 music scene in Manchester and Liverpool by Paul Morley in yesterday's Observer.
added 18 May
Fall Down by Cole Coonce (L.A. City Beat, 18-24 May):
Mark E. Smith's platoon system meets its Waterloo at the Knit
“I've always got a reserve force with the Fall. Anyone gets stroppy with me, I've always got subs. I take no musician for granted. I don't like musicians. They elevate themselves, which is detrimental to the name of the Fall. I don't hold auditions, and it's a nasty thing to say, but it's like a platoon sort of thing. If the first three get shot, you have another three behind them.”
–Mark E. Smith, on the volatile and tumultuous nature of the Fall
“You call yourself bloody professionals?”
–Roman Totale, a.k.a. Mark E. Smith
A couple of weeks ago, a plane landed in Texas, and amongst its cargo were members of the Fall, a first-wave punk-rock band out of Manchester, England, who were across the pond to promote their 25th (!) in a series of perplexing, engaging albums, 2005's Fall Heads Roll. The L.A. date was at the Knitting Factory last Saturday night (May 13).
But by the time the Fall got to Phoenix, as far as hydrocarbonic intake goes, Glen Campbell had nothing on the soppy and stroppy Mark E. Smith, rock 'n' roll's resident Dylan Thomas. Tour reports were rife with incidents of Smith pouring a beer on his tour manager's noggin and also using his head as an ashtray, all while the poor tosser drove the van down the interstate and tried not to crash. Moreover, at that night's show, a member of the opening act assaulted Smith with a half-eaten plantain (!), and the band played on while MES chased the banana-assassin into the parking lot, where a scuffle ensued. This mayhem, coupled with Smith's notoriously fascistic task-making, had forced “the lads” (as he called his backing group) to skulk away under the cover of darkness and catch an aeroplane back to Old Sod.
Which did not bode well for L.A. But, being a “bloody professional” and all, Smith and wife/synthesist sidekick Elena Poulou endeavored to fulfill contractual obligations and finish the tour (a novel concept, if one knows the Fall's history).
Apparently the Fall's record label, Narnack, solicited as replacements a trio of alt-dirge rockers out of Chicago, who were hot-lapped into San Diego in time for the Fall's booking at the House of Blues, and – ka-pow ka-pow ka-pow – quick as a repeating rifle, the notion of the Fall being a platoon system was, in fact, realized.
Luckily for the new lads – guitarist Tim Presley, bassist Rob Barbato, and drummer Orpheo McCord – most of the Fall's latest songs are mere exercises in two-note rock riffs pounded into a repetitive groove, which serves as a foundation for Smith to free-associate lyrically, with gems such as “Dolly Parton and Lord Byron/They said patriotism is the last refuge/But now it's me” or haikus to that effect. In other words, if the riff never really changes, such subtleties and dynamics as a “chorus” are based on Smith terminating his J. Alfred Prufrock-ish free verse and repeating and chanting certain absurdist phrases (“Moderninity … what is it?” being a particularly catchy and toothsome example).
All of which means, platoon system or no, it is easier to fuck up a brand-new anvil. Which is what the Fall did, somehow.
I say somehow, but I know exactly how: booze, baby. Smith is a chaos-monger and a lush, and when the chips are down, he will find a way to turn over the card table. This night was true to form, as the joint was packed like a bowl of sweaty oatmeal with a legion of fervent Fall disciples, who waited for the gospel from their maniacal messiah. Instead of a pointed, galvanizing performance that would send the faithful to postmodern Valhalla, Smith showed up drunk, staggering and slurring through a rambling collection of dirges. For the duration, he was squint-eyed sauced, stumbling and unintelligible. The “band” struggled to find its cues and vainly tried to follow his meanderings.
At Waterloo, Mark E. Smith tripped on his dick and shot himself in the foot.
Methinks “the lads” had the right idea when they deserted their leader in Phoenix.
KCRW (89.9 FM) and Filter magazine present the Fall's return to the Knitting Factory, next Tue., May 23, at 8 p.m. $25. Info: (323) 463-0204 or Knittingfactory.com.
added 13 May
Pop Quiz: Mark E. Smith of The Fall (San Francisco Chronicle, 14 May)
The woman answering the phone says Mark E Smith will call back from a land line in just a minute. A good hour later, the Fall singer, 48, is on the line, cackling uncontrollably and thinking he's speaking to someone from Colorado. So it is with the always charming and always unpredictable Smith, who since 1976 has released more than 80 albums and gone through more than 40 different band members. On the way, the Fall's askew post-punk music has made more than a conspicuous impression on everyone from Pavement to Franz Ferdinand, whom Smith has threatened to sue. The group returns to San Francisco for a pair of shows at the Independent today and tomorrow.
Q: Last time you were in America, the tour ended abruptly when you and two of your band members came to blows in the middle of a song.
A: Yeah. You read that?
Q: No, I remember it. And then you got arrested.
A: Right. Two nights in the cell.
Q: Before that, you broke your hip and had to sing from a wheelchair.
A: Yeah, I was a cripple. I had no escape.
Q: Should people be worried about seeing you this time?
A: No, no, no. The group is very on form, actually. You'll be surprised. They're all 10 years younger than me.
Q: What do you think of all these new bands that sound like the Fall?
A: It disturbs me a lot, actually.
Q: You're not honored?
A: No. I don't like being used like a trademark.
Q: Do you think any of them actually pull it off?
A: I don't think so. The Fall is the Fall. They're supposed to sound like us but I don't see it. Maybe I'm blind in one eye or something.
Q: I'm sure they mean it as a compliment.
A: It's like the last refuge of the scoundrel, "We're like the Fall." Even Boy George was on the telly a few years ago and he said he wants to sound like the Fall. Really, Boy?
Q: How much would it take to get you to listen to a Franz Ferdinand album?
A: Me? All the way through? About $100,000.
Q: Is that all? Do you ever hear anything you like on the radio?
A: I listen to a lot of local Manchester radio. They've got this fast Jamaican rap. It's like fast dance music with a bit of reggae. That's pretty good. Otherwise, it's the same old s -- : reggae and rock 'n' roll.
Q: What's your favorite record of all time?
A: I'm a big Fall fan. I don't listen to much, actually. I can't find my favorite records. I always hide them in the house. Do you ever do that? And then I can't find them.
Q: Where do you hide them?
Q: What are you hiding them from?
A: Nobody. I have all this crap I get for free. American indie bands and stuff like that.
Q: So you hide your good records?
A: Then I can't find them.
Q: When was the last time you cleaned your house?
A: Yesterday. Did a bit of spring cleaning.
Q: And did anything good turn up?
A: No, actually. I lost more stuff.
added 10 May
From Smog Monsters to Smug Creatures. How a town was transformed by Riverside heroes by Martin Samuel (The Times, 10 May 2006)
“You've got to go to East Germany to see it — it's a horrible, horrible way to live. It's like Middlesbrough.” — Mark E. Smith, quoted in the New Musical Express, November 3, 1984.
WHEN a singer from Salford starts spitting bile in the direction of your home town, you know it truly is grim up north.
Smith, the post-punk Brian Clough with his band The Fall (Clough should have had the England job, Smith should have had Paul Weller's following, and the world would be a better place) has managed to find strange wonder in everything from working men's clubs and bingo callers to Prince William of Orange and Greek football hooligans. But not Middlesbrough.
You have to draw a line somewhere and Smith placed his where the North Yorkshire moors give way to a choking conglomeration of concrete and chemicals, east of the A1.
Middlesbrough folk are used to such idle slander now. There was a time when southern-based writers leaning too heavily on clichés about pollution and poverty could expect instant retribution by postbag (one former Times football correspondent had his Middlesbrough match report shredded word by painstaking word, so when he opened the envelope it fell on to his desk like irate confetti), but these days such gibes are more likely to be met with a defiant roar of assent.
The Smog Monsters lampooned by Newcastle United fans, who would turn up at the Riverside Stadium wearing gas masks and anti-radiation suits, have become the Smoggies that this season will follow their team to the final of the Uefa Cup in Eindhoven. Like Tottenham Hotspur supporters negating anti-Semitic slurs by adoption, so Middlesbrough has learnt to take pride in its industrial birthright.
“I was reading in The Times that most people these days regard themselves as middle-class,” Steve Gibson, the club chairman, said. “Not in Middlesbrough, they don't. Ask that question up here and 90 per cent would say they were working-class.”
And proud of it, he might have added. For that is what Gibson and his reborn, rebuilt football club have given the town. The reason the jokes no longer stick in the throat around Teesside is that Steve McClaren's team are putting Middlesbrough on the map.
The city of Liverpool was hit worst than most in the Eighties by the recession resulting from Margaret Thatcher's monetarist policies, yet the image of the typical Liverpudlian remained one of brashness, native wit and confidence — the infamous Scally. Even when the local economy was on the brink of ruin and the local council on the cusp of madness, Liverpool continued to produce musicians and writers, as if at the epicentre of a creative boom. The area may have been downtrodden by economics, but the people never were, for two reasons — The Beatles and the best football team in the world.
The dole queues were lengthening and the docks still and empty, but if you came from Liverpool you had a stake in the creation of modern music and modern football, not necessarily in that order. Middlesbrough is still waiting for its John and Paul, but in its own, smaller potatoes way this is the football team that could reposition the town in the national psyche.
If Middlesbrough win a European trophy, the city can claim one of the sporting achievements of the season, in addition to providing the next England manager and a group of young players that could one day be the nucleus of his squad. Smoggies may wish to start humming the theme tune from The Dambusters at this point.
Every so often, when a lower-league minnow faces extinction, the importance of football clubs is questioned. Businesses go to the wall all the time, runs the argument. What is so important about Newport County, Workington or Rotherham United anyway? It is this. If Rotherham United cease to exist, when will we ever hear that name again? Who will fly the flag for Rotherham? What will give the area its identity — a junction on the M1? Every Saturday afternoon, at five o'clock, men such as James Alexander Gordon put provincial Britain in its rightful place, at the heart of national culture. The reason Pete Winkelman, the owner of Franchise FC (aka Milton Keynes Dons), was so desperate for a football club that he had to “steal” one was because, without it, his city had no profile beyond new estates and concrete cows.
What is happening in Middlesbrough is reinvention through sport. The football club are giving the area something the politicians never could. “I've lived under ten Prime Ministers — and I've been bloody poor under every one of them,” Alf Garnett fumed. Gibson is taking the people of Middlesbrough away from all that.
“If you look at Middlesbrough and the area around the town,” Gibson said. “It has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the country, one of the worst percentages of cardiovascular disease, one of the highest rates of cancer. Then you list the local Members of Parliament: Tony Blair, William Hague, Alan Milburn, Peter Mandelson; there used to be Mo Mowlam, too. And while these career politicians are doing their stuff, advancing up the ladder, their constituents are dying young. So do we see ourselves as the flagship for the town? Too right we do.”
On the day Bryan Robson was appointed manager of Middlesbrough and this journey began in earnest, Gibson received a phone call from a local headmaster. He said it had been on the news that the former England captain would be presented at Ayresome Park. This would have a calamitous effect on attendance among boys between the ages of 12 and 16. How did Gibson propose to resolve that? The chairman said to invite them down and treat it as a day out. He would even lay on buses.
In the end, Robson spoke to 6,000 Middlesbrough children through a loud-hailer. As he opened his mouth, there was instant silence. The Deputy Chief Constable turned to Gibson in awe. “I wish we could get respect like that,” he said. From this snatch of conversation grew a programme in which the football club took responsibility for health education for several thousand young Teessiders. It costs £1 million annually to run and the players are required to be involved.
“We get the kids in and because of their background some of them have never even eaten breakfast before,” Gibson said. “So we start by saying, ‘Right, this is what an athlete has for breakfast.' They graduate after two days. We talk to them about drugs, about smoking, about drinking, about exercise, about playing sport, about eating the right food. We get them to design an anti-smoking poster. All the time there are these two guys with them, wearing Middlesbrough Football Club tracksuits, joking, laughing, helping them, getting through to them.
“At the end of the course, having won their trust, the two guys come in wearing their real work clothes. They're policemen. Some kids are told not to trust the police. This shows we are all part of the community.
“I'm not about trying to get through to the mum with three kids by three dads, smoking 60 fags a day and spending every night in the pub, but if we can reach her kids, that will make the difference. After the course, we have a youth development centre that takes kids from 8 to 16. What we found from that first day with Bryan Robson is that the football club is seen as representative of authority, so with that comes responsibility.
“If you go back 20 years, there was 27 per cent unemployment among males in Middlesbrough. The shipbuilding had gone, the steel industry was on its knees, the chemical industry was in recession and ICI, who are a huge local employer, were cutting back. We nearly lost the football club, too.
“Now, if you walk around the town, the buzz is incredible. It is not because we are building ships from local steel again. It is because the football club is doing well. That is how important we are.”
Mark E. Smith would scowl, no doubt, at the worthiness of the anti-smoking posters; and he does not look like a guy who has much time for breakfast (not a solid one, anyway). Yet he probably would approve of a scene that does not take its identity from London or its lead from the rising middle-class, that stays youthful and true to its roots and that, tonight in Eindhoven, might at last succeed in making an address in Middlesbrough appear preferable to one in 1980s Leipzig.
Gibson did not say it. He did not need to. The North has risen again.
added 5 May
Fall Art Threat by Chris Ziegler
There's an entertaining if not entirely accurate article previewing the US tour in the OC Weekly.
added 3 May; updated 4 May
2 May - Stubb's Small Room, Austin, TX
The planned setlist, thanks to Patita (who also took a bunch of photos):
Bo Demmick (someone besides MES came onstage and sang the first few
lines*) / Pacifying Joint / Clasp Hands (crossed out) / Assume / Midnight in
Aspen / Ride Away / What About Us / Youwanner / I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Systematic Abuse / The Boss / Blindness
* Dougie James
Unfortunately some of that was left unplayed; time onstage around the 40-minute mark. The actual set:
Bo Demmick / Pacifying Joint / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Assume / Midnight in Aspen / Ride Away / What About Us / Youwanner / Wrong Place, Right Time > I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Systematic Abuse (instr.)
Well what did you expect???
Got about 30 minutes of music. 2 walk offs and one final one, leaving everyone waiting to no avail. Well they sounded good, so don't know what the problem was. Mark and Ben even smiled at each other at one point. Birds chirped and butterflies swooned. But it wasn't enough to keep them going. Oh well. Not really disappointed or surprised. At least they didn't wait til midnight to take the stage, they were on around 10:30 which is good for a work night!!
Well better luck to those in Dallas or Houston or wherever the next show is. They did sound good so hopefully they will put on a good show.
That was a ten dollar show, not a twenty dollar show. why does mark have to be such a bastard? is it a napoleon complex?
they played the indoor stage at stubb's, a small room. might hold 200, i'd guess 100 attended.
opening band came and went. someone taped a sign to
the center mic - "no videotaping, no flash
photography, no audio. no - no" (i took that to mean
non-flash photos were okay, but that turned out to be
a false assumption). then a fellow came onstage and
started an audio / video presentation. i had watched
him setting this up before the show, and assumed the
video would run with the fall's performance, but such
was not the case. for about 20 minutes we watched
video performances of queen, sonny and cher, prince,
fat elvis, barbra streisand and, finally, michael
jackson (the thriller video, "i'm not like other
boys") to a rhythmic, distorted soundtrack. the images involved a lot of repetition, forward/ reverse, and some visual distortion, and the overall effect was to emphasize, i think, the vain absurdity of the performances of these icons; the posturing, false drama, and choreographed moves.
the a/v show managed to be both droning and dramatic.i for one was expecting the band to show up on stage, and as time went on and they did not show, expectations rose. this bit turned out to be self-contained. after about 20 minutes the fellow ended the presentation, packed his stuff up and left the stage.
the fall arrived 10-15 minutes later; the band started up "bo demmick" and MES took the stage. he actually looked very tidy in a lightweight black suit and white shirt, open at the collar. customary fop of hair, terrible bags around his eyes; if he opened them, i couldn't tell. did a bit of knocking things over on stage, not too much; he was just as i had imagined him.
about three songs into the set, MES and the guitarist fussed a bit over an amp; i realized then that i couldn't hear any guitar at all. there was some knob-turning, and later in the set i heard a bit of guitar, but overall it was practically buried. whether by accident or design, this seemed to emphasize the anti-rock-establishment message - guitar almost irrelevant in the corner for a change. during this set the bassist took on the role normally held by a lead guitarist. the instruments amounted to bass, keyboard, drums and guitar in that order.
at one point between songs the drummer came out from behind his kit to right a fallen cymbal; MES knocked it back over directly.
i snapped a couple of non-flash digital pics and was quickly headed off by a staffer. said the band requested no photography. he was shutting down anyone
taking photos, including the ubiquitous camera phone
and in 30 minutes it was done. MES left the stage.
the band played out the end of the song, the drummer
took the mic and said "mark e. smith" and they were
gone. obviously folks expected more, but i wasn't
sure it was going to happen. i had been fairly
relieved the band had shown at all.
they did come back for one song w/ MES. he smiled
some at the start of that one, enjoying a moment w/
the guitarist, which was his only real show of emotion
for the night. end of song, he left again, and the
band did one instrumental. in all they were onstage
about 45 minutes.
two things it brought to mind - the infamous PiL ritz
show in the early 80s, when the band performed behind
a screen and the audience rioted; and the idea that
british football games foster violent behavior because
they involve so much energy and anticipation, and yet
involve so few goals.
There's also a thread on the message board.
added 5 May
4 May - Gypsy Tea Room, Dallas, TX
Youwanner / Coming Down / Pacifying Joint / What About Us / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Ride Away / Wrong Place, Right Time > I Can Hear The Grass Grow / new song / Systematic Abuse / Mountain Energei / The Boss // Mr. Pharmacist / Blindness (aborted after a couple of seconds)
The above may not be 100% accurate. Reviews on the message board. Coming Down is a cover of the United States of America track.
added 8 May; updated 9 May
6 May - Club Congress, Tucson, AZ
Coming Down / What About Us / Ride Away / The Boss / I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Mountain Energei / Pacifying Joint / Blindness / Clasp Hands // Boxoctosis / Bo Demmick / Mr. Pharmacist
plus Touch Sensitive somewhere in the main set.
Tedski reviewed the gig for the Tucson Scene. Reviews on the message board.
added 8 May; updated 10 May
7 May - Brickhouse Theater, Phoenix, AZ
Coming Down / What About Us / The Boss / I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Mountain Energei / Pacifying Joint / Systematic Abuse (instr.)
In the middle of What About Us, Justin Williams, the lead singer of support band the Talk, climbed on stage and threw a banana peel at Mark, hitting him on the side of the face. Mark finished the line he was singing, took off and folded his jacket, and followed the culprit into the parking lot. The set continued but Mark cut it short after a few more songs.
It appears that this was the final straw for Ben, Spencer and Steve, who quit the tour and headed back to Manchester. The tour manager quit, too. Narnack quickly recruited Tim Presley and Rob Barbato (of Darker My Love) to fill in on guitar and bass, and the wonderfully named Orpheo McCord (of On the Hill) on drums.
After the aborted set Eleni came out to apologize to the small crowd of 50 or 60. With thanks to BCB and Chris, here's a recording of it.
Reviews and reactions on the message board. Pitchfork has an eye witness account.
Sonia from the Teenage Fanclub message board:
I suppose if it wasn't a specticale it wouldn't be a Fall show, would it?
The night started with the barman saying they had their liquor license pulled on Friday. Yeay. There were maybe 50-60 people at the show. $25/head on a Sunday in downtown Phoenix - no surprise. But still, it's THE FALL for fecks sake. We missed the first band, and the second sent me to the bar to stare into my coke. The ice was nice - the kind that crumbles in your mouth.
I've always liked the Fall, but wouldn't call myself a "fan," with only two or three of their how many records, and having never seen them before (not for lack of want, but for lack of availability). The show opened with promise, with a nice video/audio distortion of Queen & Elvis. Then the band came on, only to find that the keyboard hadn't been set up by the crew. Huh? WTF? Minor chaos, but fixed fairly quickly. Mark takes the stage - I had no idea he was so tiny. He seemed to be in good spirits despite the pathetically small audience, so I thought, "Okay, we might actually get to hear a few songs." Second song in (no idea what was played, sorry) and the singer from the 2nd opener (The Talk) runs on stage and throws something at Mark's head. He rips off his jacket and chases after him out the back door. And so does half the audience. And the chick keyboard player. The rest of the band keeps playing. The crowd gets pushed back in, and a few minutes later back comes Mark. We get maybe two more songs (one being "I Can Hear the Grass Grow"), and the keyboards don't seem right. Crew can't manage to get things straight, Mark and her walk off in the middle of the song. Band left alone to play out the tune (clearly they're used to it). Then they all leave and eventually keyboard chick comes back and said something about "Sorry, but we were getting violently abused and disrespected, yada yada." Hello - it was your own tourmate and the crew that did the damage, not us. She walks off in disgust, some people start chanting "USA" and that was that. Hooray - I've seen the Fall once in my life!
Here's a message from the Talk, the support band.
...what you don't understand is the band was quitting anyway you're lucky they played as long as they did they played for less than that a few days ago mark is a dick and his band hates him and his wife they flew home tonight without him even knowing he pulled a corkscrew on steven the bass player poured beer and ashed on their tour managers head while he was driving and tonight was his last show as well and they weren't even going to play tonight but we asked them to do it for us so don't be a dick unless you know what's going on thanks.... THE TALK
Rumour has it that Mark asked members of the Talk to take over Ben, Spen, and Steve's roles but they refused. On 9 May it was announced that the Talk were kicked off the tour.
added 10 May
9 May - House of Blues, San Diego, CA
Bo Demmick / Midnight in Aspen + Pacifying Joint (played simultaneously) / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mountain Energei / Wrong Place, Right Time / What About Us // I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Mr. Pharmacist
The first gig with new Fall members Tim Presley (guitar), Rob Barbato (bass) and Orpheo McCord (drums). Reviews on the message board.
There's a terrific review by Frank on the official site.
I can confirm the show in San Diego at the House of Blues did actually happen. No
opening band. The new band started with a long drawn out Bo D with Mark E taking the
stage several minutes into their jam. The rest of the set was something like: Pacifying
Joint, Mountain Engergie, Sparta FC (really weak without all the chanting - all the new
members were not mic'd), Right Place, Wrong Time (bass player didn't seem to know the
tune that well) & Ya Wanner. Encores: I can hear the grass grow & Mr. Pharmacist.
We greeted Mr & Mrs Smith in the bar prior the show and he was all smiles. We had
balcony seats yet the balcony bar/service was closed since there were only a handful of
people with balcony tickets. Doorman said this is what happens at a show that only
pre-sells a 100 tickets for this 1200 capacity house. I estimate there must have been
a couple hundred in attendance by show time. Started around 9:30 and over in 30-some
I saw "The Fall" show last night (if you can call it that). The show now ranks up in my
top two worst concert experiences ever -- very dissapointing. The new backing band hardly had any knowledge of how the songs were played and mostly jammed out playing whatever. The pinnacle worst moment of the show came on the second song (!) when Elena and Mark played/sang the rocking Pacifying Joint while the rest of the band strummed on Midnight In Aspen -- that's right two songs at one time [ I really wish I had been there to hear this - ed. ]
From the best of my recollection they played:
Theme From Sparta FC
Wrong Place, Right Time (bassline was particularly screwy)
What About Us?
I Can Hear the Grass Grow
Both of the encores were musically okay. ie. the timing and the knowledge of the songs was better than the rest.
Anyways, that is my take on the show. It's disspointing to wait for such a remarkable
band to come back to San Diego only to watch them practice on stage. Especially since the last time they were here, three years ago, they were outstanding.
Oh, my top worst show experience? Cat Power. Atrocious.
That is all,
added 12 May
11 May - The Glass House, Pomona, CA
Bo Demmick / Pacifying Joint / Midnight in Aspen / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mountain Energei / Wrong Place, Right Time / What About Us // I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Blindness // Mr. Pharmacist
Last night, Pomona, California. Bestest version of Mr. Pharmacist
ever. (Well, since the Sonics anyway...) Loose, energetic and Smith
was singing like he meant it.
Small crowd, but big performance from Smith. The more cogent and
pointed performance that I've heard or seen from him since 2001.
The band? I have heard worse iterations of the Fall, and from versions
whose members had more than 72 hours to get their musical cues down.
For the record, the band didnae' "rehearse" during their day off after
San Diego, so this is still pretty damn fresh...
Live mixing from MES actually made sense, too. (in a rub-a-dub style...)
Ms. Poulou added some pretty great sonic elements vis-a-vis low
frequency oscillator sweeps and the like.
Last night the Fall were not quite a funny car on fire (which Pomona
is famous for, what being home of the Winternationals (aka "the Big Go
West", in drag racing nomenclature) and all), but it certainly didn't
suck and I'd do it again, personally.
So: Smith is on. Poulou is peppy and potent. The band is fresh, yet
loose and having a great time on stage. Don't let their lack of
preparation dissuade any of you punters from parting with your
entertainment dollar. Methinks the New, New Fall's whisper of
uncertainty is forcing Smith to work harder, which is good exchange.
Which is not to say the New New Fall is hesistant or in over their
heads. The only tentative moments was when the bass player was trying
to figure out the chant to Sparta FC.
(The bass player is the bearded guy who looks like a lumberjack from
Bachman Turner Overdrive.) Like I say; I've seen the Fall in far shoddier condition (including
Smith). At this moment in time, they are definitely worth seeing,
More reviews and photos on the message board. Cole's photos here.
added 14 May; updated 18 May
13 May - The Knitting Factory, Los Angeles, CA
Bo Demmick / Pacifying Joint / Midnight in Aspen / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mountain Energei / Wrong Place, Right Time / What About Us // I Can Hear the Grass Grow / Blindness // Mr. Pharmacist
Reviews on the message board. Brian Damage's review and photos here.
Cole's photos and his review in the Los Angeles City Beat (18-24 May edition).
Wow, brilliant, I mean fucking brilliant, full set, 2 encores, MES happy
twiddling knobs. Too drunk to remember the set list but those Cairo boys
kickass, should be permanent Fall. Pacifying, Mountain, Sparta,
Blindness, What About Us, Early Days?, I Can Hear the Grass Grow, a few
others, I don't yet have Fall Heads Roll but I will soon, with a raging Mr
Pharmacist closing the night. Earlier, a solo bluesy/noisy
guitarist/singer opened with a local emo sorta band Fielding coming on
next. The show proper started with, I believe, the same VJ that was at
Pomona? 90% of the crowd was a bit annoyed after about 3 minutes of him,
it went on for waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay
Excellent night, I'll be back at the May 23rd show and the people at the
shows between now and then are in for a good time.
Whichever list member that's from Hawaii should check fares for the next
Knitting Factory show.
Hmmmm... I am wondering if we were at the same show. Smith was
squint-eyed drunk, stumbling and unintelligible. The "band" was
struggling to find their cues, but tried to follow his meanderings.
Ms. Poulou was actually the glue that held it together, such as it was...
Pomona = 1. Knitting Factory = 0
My redundant observations: a slightly fascistic element -- a true reveling in the
crowd during the last encore... Have we seen this donning of the black gloves
And Cole, are we only rating Fall shows in binary code now? I give last night a
010. It was a little bass-heavy for my taste, but I know, it's like hating the
leopard for having spots.
I was just annoyed with the enthusiastic 17 year olds in front of me (I asked one
how long he'd been listening to them)-- I couldn't figure that one out. 2006--
the year the Fall broke. I suppose they'll be at Coachella next year.
I'm not the expert Cole or Michelle is (I'm really, really not), but I'm
going to chime in with Greg on this one. I thoroughly enjoyed the show last
night. I thought the band sounded great -- though I didn't get to see much
of the show in Pomona, to my ears this group was more energetic than the
line up in Croydon in March (of course, that was night 4 of a "residency").
I even saw Ms. Poulou crack a smile (but I think it was at her young lover
in the audience ;).
I thought somebody said there were precious few youngsters (under-25s) there.
Anyway, my song-by-song scorecard:
Bo Demmick (not up to much: "We are The Fall-uh! SlmbrlrnzmishnmWHUP!)
Pacifying Joint (truly awful)
Sparter F-uhSay-uh (Getting there, getting there! ...)
Mountain Energei (Not bad, except for the Gary-Glitteresque drums.)
Wrong Place (very kickass, MES very slurry but who cares)
What About Us? (pretty fine as well, although memory may not serve ...)
I Can Hear The Grass Grow (plenty nice)
Blandness (I still don't like this one, in spite of what everyone says. I mean, it should be my personal theme song, second only to Pat-Trip Dispenser. But it just sounds like half of Dr. Buck to me, except not as good. ... The crowd (& I) were bopping along pretty well, however.)
Mr. Pharmacist (paaaassable ... still fun to shout along to, even if I keep substituting "summertime" in there.)
I give very good marks to the Cairo Gang boys overall.
added 15 May; updated 16 May
14 May - The Independent, San Francisco, CA
Bo Demmick / Pacifying Joint / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mountain Energei / Wrong Place, Right Time / I Can Hear the Grass Grow / What About Us / Assume / Blindness
Reviews and photos on the message board. Livedaily.com's report by Tjames Madison.
added 16 May
15 May - The Independent, San Francisco, CA
Bo Demmick / Pacifying Joint / Theme from Sparta F.C. / Mountain Energei / Wrong Place, Right Time / What About Us / I Can Hear the Grass Grow // Systematic Abuse / Mr. Pharmacist
Reviews on the message board.
23 May 2006
This is the latest news and gossip off the message board, Fallnet, and elsewhere for those with weak stomachs. If
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06may01 Berlin gig, Reclaimers' footy song, MES "In Their Own Write", Praxis Hagen exhibit.
06apr06 UK tour, Greek/ Swiss gigs, "The Two-Year Gap" announcement, John Peel Fall intros/ outros mp3, Wire's Fall Primer, Q's Manchester special, Monks Beat Club clips, Fallnet's "Dr. Buck's Letters", Fall album survey results, Nikki Sudden / Ivor Cutler r.i.p., Brix's new house, cult musicians, Gavin Esler.
21feb06 Official Fall site now Unofficial, Guardian ex-Fall members article, Mojo interview and poll results, IS, IAH, MCR & CC remaster details, Mixing It session, Antwerp & Wigan gigs, Ding's two new bands, Ghostigital, New Year's Honours, fashion corner: Brix interview & Lagerfeld show, Blue Orchids new album, history of Salford bands.
03jan06 Word MES interview, ticket refund information, Festive 50, misc. year-end press roundups and Fall forum poll results, preview of Guardian's ex-Fall members article, MES lego minifig, Armitage Shanks & Necropolis Fall-related songs, Ghostigital's "Not Clean" & "Codomatopoeia," Corsa ad back on TV, John Peel's Record Box.
08nov05 Fall Heads Roll reviews, UK tour, Incendiary, Rock Sound & Pitchfork interviews, PBL book preview, Commercially Unfriendly cd.
30sep05 Fall Heads Roll details, MES to read footy scores, Peel tribute CDs, ChronicArt preview, Blast Off DVD sampler, Frank Skinner, Jacob's Cream Crackers, Stewart Lee, Deisel-U-Matic award.
18aug05 Paul Hanley BBC radio int., MES Metro "60-second" & Kitchen Sink ints., 1979 Jamming! int., Deisel U Matic award, Paul Wilson's Fall Mix, Stewart Lee's favorite things.
26jul05 Berlin & Paris gigs, Fall site news, Diesel-U-Music & Mojo awards, Live from the Vaults: the "real" story, Sanctuary / Slogan Records announcement, Mayo Thompson, Commercially Unfriendly CD, links to loads of Peel box reviews.
14jun05 UK & Lyon gigs, Conway's guitar tab and Adult Net pages, Jools Holland, Deeply Vale cd, MES int. w/BBC on Peel, Lime Lizard 1993, Festive 50 book, Live from the Vaults delayed, Wake Up in the City, Cuz'n Roy's yard sale on ebay, Jahn Rhondos.
27apr05 UK gigs, Left of the Dial & Scotland on Sunday interviews, Deeply Vale CD preview, Bingo Masters press release, Scherzo Schist, Live from the Vaults, Simon Reynolds, Simon Armitage, Prenzlauer Berg, Fall Cafe, Poloraoids special offer, Brix & Gromit, MES on Funhouse, Fall documentary transcript, the Fall wants your photo.
25feb05 BBC4 Fall doc, Hex reissue, KFNY gig, Fall Forum's TNSG, Ice Magazine (UK) MES int., Sun Zoom Spark articles, Playlouder appreciation, unofficial Sparta FC video, Peel set postponed 1 month, MES's New Years Honours list, 9may81 photos, Hunter S. Thompson, RIP.
07jan05 Jim Watts resigns, UK gigs, Pseud Mag, Festive 50, Deeply Vale, documentary, City Bar "fall-out", Polaroids on the Fall, Wipe That Sound, Narnack sampler.