Maxwell Hall, University of Salford. Balcony seats (200 @ £19 plus booking fees) available through Ticketline only (0161 832 1111). With John Cooper Clarke and Bobbie Peru. Standing floor tickets (1000 @ £17 plus booking fees), available through Ticketline, wegottickets, Salford University Union; Vibes, Bury; Endless Music, Prestwich; King Bee, Chorlton; Piccadilly Records, Oldham Street; and with no booking fee from Alan Wise, 26 Lockett Gardens, Manchester M36BJ (enclose an SAE and check for £17).
Mark E. Smith: Wonderful and Frightening. A long interview with / profile by PBL short-story-collection-contributor Nicholas Blincoe that's already online, but I'm not sure which issue it'll be printed in; the Telegraph site suggests Saturday's (26 April).
added 28 March; updated 27 April
Imperial Wax Solvent reviews
It seems that everybody and their dog had heard Imperial Wax Solvent a month before its official release tomorrow (28 April), and most reviews have been favourable. Someone even said it was the best since Hex. I wouldn't go quite that far but I do think it's the strongest Fall LP in several years.
There's a review thread on the message board and I'll add links here to others as I find them.
Hex Enduction Hour was featured on Radio 4's Saturday Review last Saturday (19 April). It was chosen by one of the guests, the poet Paul Farley, and the two other guests – Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire Liz Forgan and Antonia Quirke – joined in the discussion with presenter Tom Sutcliffe. A good listen, too; thanks to Mopiranger for the mp3.
added 22 April
Mark will be signing copies of his book at Zavvi in the Manchester Arndale shopping centre, at 5:30pm this Friday (25 April).
added 13 April; updated 22 April
The Guardian has published two excerpts from Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith and the first one is a good read. The second less so. The book will be in the shops on 24 April according to the blurb at the bottom.
And now they've published an editorial on MES: from the 21 April issue:
In praise of... Mark E. Smith
Rock musicians often preach integrity, but rarely practise it - that costs effort and income. A musician who can even find his guns, let alone stick to them, is usually termed awkward, obtuse or plain weird. All those tags have been stuck on Mark E Smith, the singer and dictator of the Fall over three decades, and he has gone some way to earning them. He has split from countless record labels, and sacks band members as enthusiastically as others unwrap Christmas presents. His new autobiography, serialised in the Guardian last week, is studded with gems such as "I've never met a guitarist I liked ... They want a say in all the songs, but they don't want to fill in the tax forms." Such honed perverseness means the 51-year-old songwriter is sometimes treated like rock's drunk uncle: entertaining, treasurable, but ultimately irrelevant. That is a mistake; even after 30 years, he creates great songs (roughly every third Fall album is brilliant) that combine a bass-and-drum barrage rare outside dance music with an ethos that might be termed two-fingered experimentalism. Timings and tunings can be out, and lyrics display all the belligerent wisdom of a saloon-bar philosopher. This makes the Fall uncommercial, and Mr Smith gets precious little credit for his resolve in pursuing a line that often brings him grief rather than easy success. It also justifies that confrontational attitude, even with friendly critics. "Every time I get a good review in the Guardian I get worried," he writes. Tricky sod.
added 14 April
Dave Simpson has a press release for his book on ex Fall members, due out in royal hardback in September. (No word on the commoner paperback yet.)
THE FALLEN: SEARCHING FOR THE MISSING MEMBERS OF THE FALL by Dave Simpson
You’ve read Mark E. Smith’s autobiography, but coming in September 2008 on Canongate Books is one man’s search to find the missing members of The Fall and tell the group’s story through the eyes of its former members...over forty-five of them. The Fallen is the version of events Smith doesn’t want you to read.
Dave Simpson made it his mission to track down everyone who’s ever been in the group: from Steve Hanley, who played bass for the group for twenty years and is credited with ‘defining’ the Fall sound, to Ruth Daniel, who played one gig on keyboards on 22nd September 2002, after which she was locked in a room with her parents by Smith backstage. The whole roll-call of THE FALLEN is within its pages.
We learn about how Smith runs the band like a cross between Captain Beefheart and Brian Clough, managing as a team where you can ‘always replace the centre forward’; how he would fine the drummer Karl Burns for hitting the tom-tom; first-hand accounts of the band’s notorious implosion in New York nightclub Brownie’s in 1998; how Chemical Brothers manager Nick Dewey was recruited to play Reading Festival in 1999 on drums with no rehearsal; and testimonies to the madness from radio DJ Marc Riley, Smith’s glamorous ex-wife and Fall guitarist Brix Smith, down to Dave Tucker, who played clarinet on the 1981 album Slates. It also charts Simpson’s attempts to track down Burns, who no-one has seen for years and whose disappearance has created a myth of Loch Ness Monster proportions. This is the inside story of the extraordinary antics of the band that has released nearly thirty studio albums since its inception in 1976 and become a national institution.
It is also a compelling portrait of Smith himself, who has always been desperate to keep a firm grip on his recruits and control the reported version of events in The Fall saga. His shamanic presence inspires love and fear in equal measure. He will not be happy about the book.
‘If it’s me and yer Granny on bongos, it’s The Fall.’ Mark E. Smith
September 2008, royal hardback, £16.99, ISBN 978 184767 049 6
PETA have hit out at Mark E Smith over his claims that he has killed squirrels in his back garden.
Speaking to Gigwise, PETA spokesperson Violet Owens slammed The Fall frontman for killing “defenceless” animals. Not only this, but she called him a “has-been” and pleaded to the courts to deal with him strongly.
She told us: “Nothing says inferiority complex like a fully grown man harming a defenceless animal who weighs only a few ounces and whose only defence is to run away.
“Animals have the same capacity to feel fear and pain that humans do, of course, and they should have the right not to be cruelly attacked and killed by a has-been singer.
“PETA strongly advises that Mark seek help for his anger issues before anyone else gets hurt and hopes the court throws the book at him.”
Smith made the controversial comments in an interview with Uncut magazine. Since its publication the RSPCA have threatened to take legal action against the singer.
9 April: The RSPCA wasn't impressed with Mark's comments in the Uncut article. From the Daily Mail (9 April):
Veteran rocker faces RSPCA probe for chopping up rare red squirrels with hedge-clippers
By Sam Greenhill
Ever since Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a bat, hard-core rockers have had much to live up to in the depravity stakes.
So perhaps veteran guitarist Mark E Smith, frontman of The Fall, was trying to go one better when he boasted of murdering endangered red squirrels with hedge clippers.
The short-tempered punk rocker - said to have been one of Radio 1 DJ John Peel's favourite acts - bragged to a music magazine he had "killed a couple last weekend".
But if the readers of Uncut magazine were impressed, the RSPCA is decidedly unamused by Smith's claims - and yesterday announced an investigation.
Now the 51-year-old could be prosecuted under the Wildlife and Countryside Act if his backyard bloodbath is confirmed.
The gruff singer claimed he would "happily set about an endangered red squirrel with a set of professional hedge-clippers".
He added: "Squirrels mean nothing to me. I killed a couple last weekend actually. They were eating my garden fence.
"My sisters are animal lovers and they had been leaving food out for these squirrels. They've got rats in the bloody house now. Serves 'em right."
To make matters worse, the maverick frontman went on to add that he 'wouldn't have a problem' with running over seagulls for fun.
But the RSPCA said its investigators were appalled by the remarks and were now preparing a prosecution.
Spokesman Klare Kennett said: 'The comments made by Mark E Smith are extremely irresponsible and he has basically admitted to committing an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act by killing two red squirrels.
"These animals are highly protected and anyone killing, harming or taking red squirrels from the wild is liable to prosecution and can face up to six months in prison and/or a fine of up to £20,000.
"We will certainly be investigating this alleged offence now it has been brought to our attention."
She added: "If he is getting confused and talking about grey squirrels, then killing them without a good reason - eating food put out for them is not a good reason - could also be an offence under certain circumstances."
Red squirrels used to be common in Britain but have steadily been wiped out by their grey cousins, which have become the dominant species.
Famed for his quick temper, prolific singer and lyricist Smith has sacked dozens of musicians who have played for The Fall over the years.
The group - whose songs include Disney's Dream Debased and DIY Meat - have released 95 albums since forming in 1976.
They never achieved widespread public success but maintained a strong cult following, and were championed by legendary DJ Peel who once cited them as his favourite band.
Franz Ferdinand, The Smiths, Nirvana and the Happy Mondays have all named The Fall as inspiration.
In the May edition of Uncut, interviewer Ben Marshall suggested seagulls should be run over because they were a public menace, and Smith replied: "Quite f*****g right. I don't have a problem with that."
Miss Kennett said: "Running over gulls is also an offence and the RSPCA has prosecuted people for illegal killing of both squirrels and gulls - and would not hesitate to do so again.
"To suggest in a magazine read by youngsters that it is a good idea to harm wildlife is both extremely stupid and highly irresponsible."
Osbourne, frontman of heavy metal group Black Sabbath, recently explained how he came to bite the head off a bat during a concert in the United States.
He said: "Someone threw it on stage and I thought it was a toy. It must have been stunned by the lights 'cos it was dead still when I picked it up. I put it in my mouth as a joke.
"Its f***ing wings started flapping and I ripped it out of my mouth but its head came off! The worst part was the anti-rabies injections in my a*** the next day. F***ing painful!"
Last night a music industry source said: "I don't know what would be worse for Mark E Smith's image - being found guilty of killing squirrels, or the RSPCA finding out he made up the claims."
added 7 April
There are a couple of MES interviews posted on the forum, thanks to Ocelot.
From the Salford Advertiser, an interview with Ed Blaney about the Voiceprint deal mentioned on the Fall news a few weeks ago.
New duo's project will be big noise
3 April 2008
SALFORD boy Ed Blaney is making a musical comeback alongside his former client and pal, Mark E Smith.
Ed, from Weaste, and The Fall’s lead singer, Mark E Smith, also from Salford, have been working together on a number of limited edition seven inch vinyls which he promises will be very different from The Fall’s music.
Blaney, a songwriter, producer and former manager of The Fall now hosts a voluntary radio show on Salford City Radio, and enjoys playing everything from Old Skool tracks to Elvis in a bid to keep his listeners happy.
He was approached to make the new album by record company, VoicePrint, and the two close friends got straight into the studio, and wrote, as Ed describes, opinionated lyrics wherever they could, whether it be in a bar or a taxi.
Speaking of his new project, Ed said: "I was approached by email, but I had been away in Bulgaria for a while and had thousands of emails to read. Mark and I work well together, were close friends and the music has gone down well, we will probably end up doing a few gigs."
The first limited edition vinyl is due to be released at the end of this month, and four singles are set to follow before culminating in an album of the five tracks.
The next step for Ed is to begin mixing the music which he plans to do next week, and he describes the five tracks as very spontaneous, opinionated and humourous.
Ed added: "The tracks are all very different, and some concentrate on current affairs. There are some acoustic songs, I play the guitar and Mark sings, but even they have a big full on sound."
Ed and Mark are both very busy men at the moment, as well as the album, Mark is releasing a new album with The Fall and his autobiography is set to come out soon. Ed is continuing with his weekly radio show, and he has some famous names popping in soon including Terry Christian and Mike Sweeney.
Tune into Radio City Salford every Friday from 12pm to 2pm to listen to Ed’s show.
added 31 March
Sunday, 30 March The Ferry, Glasgow
Is This New / Wolf Kidult Man / Wings / 50 Year Old Man / I've Been Duped / What About Us / Fall Sound / Latch Key Kid / Mountain Energei / Reformation / White Lightning / Tommy Shooter / Blindness // Totally Wired (!)
Is This New / Wings / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / I've Been Duped / Fall Sound / Pacifying Joint / Mountain Energei / Reformation / Tommy Shooter // White Lightning / Latch Key Kid / Blindness // Mr. Pharmacist
Reviews on the message board, and Oscar Marletta sent in this wonderful account of the evening:
some reason, The Fall like to play the Ferry: a barely floating greenhouse, used most of the year to host wedding receptions. It smells of untreated sewerage and the beer tastes like it’s been diluted with water from the Clyde; the bouncers look and act like Dalek Pig-Slaves and while the sound system just may cope with ‘The Dashing White Sergeant’ and other traditional Scottish accordion faves, it surely can’t do justice to the Mighty Fall? Some in the audience were clearly under the misapprehension that once everyone was on board and the band had taken stage, we’d hoist anchor and set off on a pleasure cruise, with Cap’n Mark in nautical garb and the rest of the band dressed as pirates. Certainly, the high seas may have been a good escape from the aftermath of the Rangers vs. Celtic match earlier in the day. Tonight, however, Fall privateering glory actually seemed a possibility.
The Ferry has made at least one assisted river journey, from the south bank to the north, and been given a refit as well: it’s now all blonde wood and faux potted plants, and resembles a floating three-star hotel reception area. The stage has been set up along the length of the ‘ship’, reducing standing room by half; we are packed in like shanghaied sardines, and what very old smelly sardines we are: apart from the twenty-something fops slapping each other near the front of the stage, everyone in the audience is forty or fifty years old. There’s a guy with a white beard and white golf hat who looks like the Astronomer Royal; another chap looks like an off duty WWII R.A.F. pilot: he is sporting an Orwellian tonsure with pencil moustache and wearing a tweed sports jacket and elaborately knotted paisley pattern silk scarf. His lapels are studded with Fall badges, like medals of honour. As Annie Lennox’s huge video head balloons over the audience repeating the same note of ‘Sweet Dreams’, the tension, as you’d expect from a city where we’ve screamed our sectarian divisions at each other for the best part of the day, is palpable.
Mark Smith takes the stage, not so much a sea captain, but very redolent of a malevolent sea turtle, in a sharp leather jacket and pink shirt. The second song, a glorious rendition of ‘Wings’, instantly banishes the M.E.S scripted introduction spoken by Lily Allen’s less talented older brother, as though it were a bad ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ (just who the fuck is that guy and why do we need him?) A superb ‘Wolf Kidult Man’, complete with M.E.S wolf howling, is followed by the now epic ’50 Year Old Man’, at which point something strange happens: Mark Smith’s avowal that he pisses on hotel room towels and has rock hard hard-ons that he can’t be bothered using (thanks for that image, Mark) seems to strike a chord (sadly, not with aforementioned hard-on): he’s a fifty year old man, and he likes it. The song becomes totemic, an anthem for ageing disgracefully by behaving badly, and it sends the crowd wild: these middle aged people are actually body-slamming each other, like mating manatees, slapping together and sweating copiously. After this point the gig never looks back.
By ‘Reformation’, Mark Smith is standing on stage with his arms outstretched like an amphibian reptilian messiah: the R.A.F. pilot is swinging his silk cravat round his head, before throwing it over the heaving mass of bodies, to land on the stage as a tribute: each time, the cravat, mysteriously, finds its way back to him. At one point I found it in my hand, and managed to tap him on the shoulder and return it to him. He beamed his thanks, before scrunching it into a ball and throwing it back towards the stage once more.
By ‘Blindness’ a woman in her forties who looks like she may be a School Attendance Officer in sensible glasses, is dancing so frenetically that I am in danger of losing an eye to the flailing elbows emerging from the rolled back sleeves of her white 80s disco jacket; Mark Smith has handed the Mic to the Astronomer Royal who is barking something incomprehensible and Fall-like, while Smith, his head tilted back, nods and points at him like an Evangelical Preacher listening to one of the Brethren testifying: amen! By now, if we all started speaking in tongues, no one would be surprised. An on-going tug-of-war for the microphone stands is happening between the audience and the Pig-slave bouncers: the audience soon win, and hold their trophies aloft, cheering loudly; Mark’s old mug is positively wreathed in smiles.
We get not one but two encores: a version of Mr. Pharmacist which is so shambolic that one suspects M.E.S must have whistled it to the band minutes previously in the dressing room: but by this point it really doesn’t matter; hoist the anchor, splice the main brace: let’s see if this old tub will actually sail! Then all of a sudden it’s over: Cap’n Smith waves the audience a peace sign, or possibly a V for Victory and leaves the stage; the lights go up, and still buoyed and dazed, we walk the gang plank to dry land, ushered by the pig-like bouncers. What a wonderful Fall gig. In the cold clear March air I see the R.A.F pilot walking home, his cravat miraculously returned to him, and perfectly knotted under his chin. God Bless The Fall and all who sail in her.
added 28 March
Thursday, 27 March The Iron Works, Inverness
Is This New / Wings / Pacifying Joint / Fall Sound / 50 Year Old Man / Wolf Kidult Man / Latch Key Kid / Mountain Energei / Reformation / Tommy Shooter / I've Been Duped / Blindness
I believe the running order went as per the setlist. Ding on for two songs (Mountain Energei and Reformation?). Reviews on the message board. Thanks to Pete and David for the setlist.
added 27 March
Wednesday, 26 March The Dome, Morecambe
Is This New / Wings / Pacifying Joint / 50 Year Old Man / Fall Sound / I've Been Duped / Wolf Kidult Man / Alton Towers / Reformation / Tommy Shooter / White Lightning / Blindness
Reviews on the message board. Thanks to gojonnygogogo for the setlist.
added 25 March
Monday, 24 March The Welly, Hull
Is This New / Wings / Fall Sound / Pacifying Joint / 50 Year Old Man / Wolf Kidult Man / I've Been Duped / Latch Key Kid / Reformation / Tommy Shooter / White Lightning // Blindness
Is This New / Wolf Kidult Man / Pacifying Joint / 50 Year Old Man / Fall Sound / Wings / Latch Key Kid / I've Been Duped / Reformation / Mountain Energei // Tommy Shooter / White Lightning
Thanks to Richard for the setlist and for the two video clips. Reviews on the message board.
Is This New
50 Year Old Man
added 20 March
From musicomh.com, an interview with MES by David McGonigle. Interview took place on 10 March, the day after the Cardiff gig.
Mark E. Smith - Falling
The Fall have been in business for over three decades, during which the band has featured more than 40 members. Notorious front man and founder Mark E Smith is the only constant.
Salford-born Smith recently collaborated with German duo Mouse On Mars in Von Südenfed, releasing the album Tromatic Reflexxions in 2007. This year he unveils his autobiography.
musicOMH.com took the chance of finding Smith in good form during The Fall's tour stopover in Cardiff...
"Is this gonna be on the web, like? Right, so is it gonna be: Mark blah blah blah; You blah blah blah; sommat like that?"
It's the day after The Fall's gig at The Point in Cardiff, and Mark E Smith, leader of the band for the past 30-odd years, is sitting across from me in the bar of a downtown hotel. Legendarily unpredictable - MES can be naughty, nice, or merely downright obtuse - yet the Mark E Smith that rolls up is charming, garrulous, and not afraid to firmly put the record straight on some of the legends that have dogged him and his band for years. Welcome, then, to the wonderful and rather polite world of Mark E Smith.
Then again, for all I know our conversation could have borne the same relation to reality as a documentary on Channel 5. Smith has always been vocal about his love of the fantastic in literature; perhaps he now regards interviews as fair game to try out new fictions on unsuspecting victims? Maybe not, but I still wouldn't be that surprised to learn that the joke was on me: Smith's been giving interviews on his band for literally as long as I've had hot dinners.
Formed in 1976 in Salford, The Fall have endured over 30 years of an increasingly fickle independent scene, shedding record labels and band members with equal ease while also being an acknowledged influence on The Smiths, The Happy Mondays, Nirvana and Franz Ferdinand. The late John Peel, of course, loved them. So where do you start when interviewing someone who's guaranteed to have heard pretty much everything that you're going to say before? Call me predictable, but it's difficult not to start with The Fall's somewhat checkered history of hirings, firings, and on-stage fisticuffs. What does Smith think of his band as the revolving doors of indie-rock?
"Yeah, but there's too much made of all that. Utterly truthfully, I'm sick of being in a position where you go to a gig and it's just you... and the drummer." Right...
How do you coerce new blood into the band? "I don't audition; luck of the draw, really. We've been playing together for about a year and a half, and with the wife" - keyboard player Elena Poulou - "for longer than that. I like these lads because they're not rabid Fall fans. About a year and a bit ago, I had them three American fellahs" - the three members of Darker My Love that filled in during a US tour when Smith's current line-up ran out on him - "but they're working on their own project now."
It sounds a bit like The Fall works well because you're able to run it like a squad selection system, I suggest. That gets me a long cackle. "Yeah, yeah, we have an A team and a B team" ...pause... "but it keeps them on their toes. I'm still objective about it - I'm a big Fall fan, believe it or not." Does this mean that Smith likes to cosy up at home with a copy of Totales Turns and a pint of stout? "Not really, it's too close, but I listened to the remastered version of Hex Induction Hour. That was good, that. Really clear. I remember when it came out - it was just like an hour of..." - at a loss for words, he gestures with a chopping, strangling motion in the air. "This time you could actually hear what was going on - the original was pressed up in France for next to fucking nothing. I thought it was the last LP we were ever going to make. Remastering it makes it what it should have been like."
But just because you can now hear all the lyrics to Who Made The Nazis, don't be conned into thinking that Smith supports our current culture of repacking and reissuing every last scrap of a band's material. "I don't like all that past things. I'm not really interested in all that. We've never, like, reformed, y'know. It's a big deal, y'know, you get all these offers, like Wire do, and like The Stooges do. They say, if you do this LP, you can get a lot of money" - he's talking about the Don't Look Back In Anger gigs, where classic bands play classic albums in their entirety.
But Smith isn't completely against the idea: he looks almost wistful when briefly discussing The Stooges guitarist, Ron Asheton, for whom the reformation with Iggy Pop was undoubtedly a financial godsend, and ruefully admits that "yeah, well, quite rightly, you want to hear this stuff. I mean, who wants to hear what the solo members of Gang of Four are up to at the moment. Then again..." - and, cackling, he can't help himself on this one "who wants to hear the Gang Of Four anyway?"
Moving onwards. What about Wales, Mark? Have The Fall got any good memories of playing in Wales over the years? Smith sidesteps that one to namecheck the Welsh horror writer Arthur Machen - not a personal memory, I hope, as he died in 1947 - and obviously finds some amusement in Machen's descriptions of strange, underdeveloped races speaking in weird, guttural tongues. Smith has avoided talking about nationalism and balkanisation, and he wonders about my current existence in Cardiff - "A Glaswegian in Wales? You must be freaked out, mate." - while bemoaning the current state of the UK in general.
"It's like they want the best of Europe and the best of America, but you end up like..." - here's that slashing action again - "you don't end up like America with cheap beer and cheap cigs, you end up with security checks, And you don't end up like France with good food, you end up with people checking the food. You never get the best bits."
But for all of his occasional outbursts at the world and everyone in it, Smith is extremely open, even welcoming, to musical collaborations. In parallel with his day duties with The Fall he's worked with Inspiral Carpets, Coldcut, D.O.S.E., and most recently Mouse On Mars whose project with MES is the extremely ace Von Südenfed. According to Mark, he's the one that's sought out by each new band, who are undoubtedly looking for the cred that comes from an MES vocal, as well as a legitimate artistic need to collaborate.
But few of these dalliances have lasted for a particularly long time, although he suggests that a new project with Von Südenfed might be on the horizon. "We played in Norway recently - some cultural festival, or something. Yeah, I'd like to do another album. The kids seem to like it." When I suggest that it's a lot more accessible than Mouse On Mars' normal work, he stares at me from across his pint glass. "Don't you forget that all these boys had careers in pop before, they used to be teeny boppers... they think just because it was in Germany that no one noticed." Ah well; at least Underworld have some company in the embarrassing first line-up stakes, then.
But Smith's collaborations aren't limited to the musical world. Curious visitors to the BBC's website over Christmas were treated to the frighteningly surreal sight of MES reading H P Lovecraft's The Colour Out Of Space, backed with nothing more than a pint glass and a roaring fire. He looks like the lead in a made-for-TV '70s Hammer Horror film with his leather jacket and oversized reading glasses. No-one seems to be really sure how the whole collaboration came about - Smith, it seems, included - but, no matter what our shared experiences of the downturn in quality of BBC's programming - "They're cheeky cunts, the BBC. You don't work for them, do you?" - there is no getting away from the fact that you just couldn't find anything like this elsewhere.
With so much said and written said about the band and the man himself, it's perhaps surprising that it's taken him so long to bring out his own version of The Fall's history. In a month's time we'll all have a chance to read his own reminiscences via his upcoming autobiography Renegade: The Lives And Tales Of Mark E Smith. It's his chance to write a bit, to fill in the gaps in his bands' history, and while he originally was going to treat it like a footballers' book - "you know, like I remember my first game, all that", he ended up taking it more and more seriously as it progressed. Will it contain the final word on the many onstage bust-ups, the who said what to who, or even begin the long process of deciphering some of his lyrics? Probably not, but it won't stop it being a top read.
In the final analysis, the reason that people like Smith attract so much interest is the near impossibility of separating truth from fiction, and as he saunters off with a final "cheers, cock", it brings to mind nothing less than the famous final words from John Ford's classic Western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. "This is the West. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." As in the West, as in the North, it seems.
added 20 March; updated 21 March
Wednesday, 19 March Roadmenders, Northampton
Is this New / Wings / Wolf Kidult Man / Over! Over! / 50 Year Old Man / Fall Sound / Latch Key Kid / Pacifying Joint / I've Been Duped / Reformation / Mountain Energei / Tommy Shooter // White Lightning
Mark E Smith, The Fall's extravagantly cantankerous leader, looks like he's spent the evening dozing on a park bench.
Sloping blearily from the wings, he wears a rumpled, gap-toothed smile and an aura of trampish menace. If you saw him stumbling towards you on the street you would probably keep your head down and scurry across the road.
Forget Tom Waits or Bob Dylan -- Smith is rock's original grumpy old man.
In his 30-year tenure at the head of The Fall he's raised cussedness to something approaching an art form.
He's also not above a little audience baiting.
Before taking the Tripod stage, Smith delivers a 10-minute spoken word monologue entitled 'Lucifer Over Lancashire' from behind the curtains while synthesisers groan discordantly in the background.
Soon, wolf-whistles are echoing around the room. This, you suspect, is exactly the reaction Smith was hoping to provoke.
Whatever about his crotchety demeanour, there's no doubting Smith's effectiveness as a taskmaster.
Tonight, the five-piece Fall are super-tight, dispensing tooth-loosening postpunk salvos with production-line efficiency.
Admittedly, Smith's vocals are entirely indecipherable -- he may as well be speaking Klingon -- but then his meandering mewl has always gone to the heart of The Fall's skewed charm .
More than 25 musicians have passed through The Fall since the group's emergence from Manchester's late '70s art-punk scene.
The latest incarnation is grounded in Elena Poulou's playschool keyboards and Pete Greenway's sheet-lightening guitar.
Smith, however, is the weird glue that keeps the whole, unlikely racket from falling apart.
In an age when "experimental rock" is increasingly a by-word for bands with angular haircuts, he stands tall as one of pop's last true eccentrics.
added 13 March
Wednesday, 12 March The Astoria, London
Is This New / Wings / Wolf Kidult Man / Pacifying Joint / 50 Year Old Man / Fall Sound / Systematic Abuse / I've Been Duped / Reformation / Mountain Energei / Tommy Shooter / Latch Key Kid / Blindness // Exploding Chimney
Ding on second bass (from Reformation onward?). Reviews on the message board. Thanks to Johnny Mills for the setlist, DJVYEATS for the Wolf Kidult Man clip, and Mark Harris for this lot of photos on flickr.
added 10 March
Sunday, 9 March The Point, Cardiff
Is This New / Wings / Wolf Kidult Man / Fall Sound / 50 Year Old Man / Over! Over! / Reformation / Mountain Energei / I've Been Duped / What About Us // Tommy Shooter
Ding on second bass from Reformation onward. Reviews on the message board. Thanks to Mark for the setlist.
Exploding Chimney / Wolf Kidult Man / Reformation / Fall Sound / I've Been Duped / 50 Year Old Man / Tommy Shooter / Mountain Energei / Pacifying Joint // Latch Key Kid / Strange Town / What About Us // White Lightning / Wings
You can’t love The Fall. Like a feral cat it can look cute, but come too close and you’ll get badly clawed.
Yet they demand, and deserve, respect – and live, they’re still one of the most powerful, uncompromising forces in contemporary music as they proved once again.
Their primal minimalistic roar is intoxicating, a relentless steam- roller that can have you laughing maniacally with delight as the sheer force knocks you off your feet and sweeps you up in a great wave of rock. Stripped to it’s pure, bare, bones.
Then, raging over the top of it all, is the voice of the band’s founder and sole survivor of 32 years, Mark E Smith.
A prototype for the man growing old disgracefully, when he dies from whatever gets him through the night – be it fags, drink, speed, sex, poetry, football or probably all six – his wrinkled, skeletal frame should be stuffed Jeremy Bentham-style with a plaque underneath declaring: “That’s the way to do it!”.
Because, despite the stage tantrums and eccentricities such as a chimp-style tendency to fiddle with the equipment – and typically there was plenty on display from Smith on this occasion – he and they, the band, still know how to do it right.
The Fall is now in its umpteenth incarnation, but certainly this one is up there with one of the best – that is, until Smith once again decides to dismantle it through another punch-up or divorce.
Pete Greenway (guitar), Dave Spurr (bass) and especially Keiron Melling, who lashed out with a savagely merciless display on drums, are a solid powerhouse held together by the Spartan keyboard work of Mrs Smith, aka Elenor Poulo. You suspect that despite her petite appearance, in this woman the Manic Manc has finally met his match. She may have even been instrumental in bringing them back on stage after hubby tetchily marched the band off just on the hour mark.
It was a good call, the night being rounded off with White Lightning and a couple of other favourites before Smith and Co trudged off without a word or acknowledgement.
The audience, ears ringing from the decibel level, would not have had it any other way.
They know the mould was broken when The Fall was made.
added 7 March
Thursday, 6 March The Corporation, Sheffield
Exploding Chimney / Fall Sound / What About Us / Alton Towers / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / Tommy Shooter / Theme from Sparta FC / Pacifying Joint / I've Been Duped //
Blindness // Wings / White Lightning
David Rippingdale of I, Ludicrous is writing a tour diary for the Guardian.
added 6 March
Wednesday, 5 March Union Society, Newcastle University
Exploding Chimney / Fall Sound / What About Us / Wolf Kidult Man / 50 Year Old Man / Alton Towers / Tommy Shooter / Pacifying Joint // Latch Key Kid / Theme from Sparta FC // Blindness / White Lightning
Here's the provisional programme for the conference taking place at the Old Fire Station, The Crescent, Salford on Friday, 9 May (not 8 May as originally posted here, nor 2 May as per last December's press release).
Lots of big names taking part -- Dick Witts, C.P. Lee, Mick Middles, Grant Showbiz, Alan Wise, and of course MES font creator Paul Wilson. Sadly the Fall news won't be there.
9.30 - 10.00 Introductions: David Sanjek (Adelphi) / Michael Goddard (Conference)
10.00 - 10.50 Keynote 1 Richard Witts: Totally Wired: The Character(s) of a Band.
10.50 - 11.10 Coffee Break
11.10 - 12.40 Parallel Session 1
1A: The Fall, John Peel and Popular Culture
Emily Coolidge and Nathan Wright: Fades in Gently: John Peel’s Role in the Fall’s Career.
Paul Long: ‘It’s Over Now’: The Fall, John Peel and Popular Music Radio.
Chris Atton: The Biggest Library Yet: The Writing of Ideology and Cultural Politics in a Fall Fanzine.
1B: The Fall, Manchester and the North
Sara Shephard: “Manacled to the City: The Significance of Place in the Imagery and Mythos of The Fall.
Katie Hannon: The Fall: A Manchester Band?
Tom Shore: Lie Dream of a Casino Soul: Mark E Smith, Geography and Working Class Culture in Britain
12.40 - 1.40 Lunch
1.40 - 3.10 Parallel Session 2
2A: The Fall and Aesthetic Techniques
Robin Purves: Don’t Start Improvising for God’s Sake: Repetition and Improvisation during The Fall.
Robert Walker: Dictaphonics: Intervention through Acoustics and Primitive Recording in the music of the Fall
Paul Wilson: Mark E. Smith’s Handwriting and the Typography of The Fall
2B: The Fall Vs./As the Others
Richard Osborne: The Fall’s rebellious Jukebox
Andy Wood: “Rebellious Jukebox”: The Fall and the War Against Conformity
Martin Myers: A Figure Walks: Strangers in and around The Fall
3.10 - 3.30 Coffee Break
3.30 - 5.20 Parallel Session 3
3A: The Persona and Management Techniques of Mark E. Smith
Angus McDonald: “The Lie Dream of the Pure Soul”: Mark E. Smith’s Militant Persona
Janice Kearns and Dean Lockwood: “As if we Didn’t Know who he Was: The Untimely Power of Mark E. Smith and The Fall
Owen Hatherley: “Let me Tell You About Scientific Management”: The Fall and the Disciplined Worker
Paulo Oliveira: “Keep a Full Subs’ Bench: Mark E. Smith’s Take on Management Technique
3B: The Fall, Modernist Poetics and Psychogeography
Paul Sutton: The Fall and the Modernist Tradition
Richard Barrett: Mark E. Smith, Blake and the Auto-Didactic Opposition to Scientific Materialism
Rob Chapman: I Have Seen the Madness in my Area
Mark Goodall: Salford Drift: A Psychogeography of The Fall
5.20 - 6.00 Alan Wise: Mark E. Smith, Experiences of and Beliefs in, the Paranormal
6.30 - 8.00 Dinner: Cafe Istanbul
8.00 - 11.30 The Kings Arms, 11 Bloom St, Salford
MC: C. P. Lee
8.20 - 9.00 Mark Fisher: The Fall and the Weird
9.00- 9.30 Mick Middles: Writing on The Fall
9.30 - 10.00 Grant Showbiz: Producing The Fall
10.00 - 10.30 Globo: The Fall Experiment
10.30 - 11.30 Fall Karaoke (mandatory)
More information on the conference on the January edition of the Fall news.
added 5 March
Tuesday, 4 March The Robin, Bilston
Exploding Chimney / My Door Will Never / Pacifying Joint / Latch Key Kid / Alton Towers / Wolf Kidult Man / Fall Sound / I've Been Duped / What About Us // Theme from Sparta FC / Wings // Tommy Shooter / Blindness
Lukewarm reviews and photos on the message board. Still, it's early days -- first nights of a Fall tour are often disappointing. Thanks to Mike for the setlist.
added 5 March
Mark and Ed Blaney have signed a new deal with Voiceprint. Apparently the plan is to release five limited edition singles followed by an album as "The Fall's Mark E. Smith and Ed Blaney." No rehashed old tracks or live tracks, they say.
added 5 March
Sanctuary's press release says Imperial Wax Solvent will be released on 28 April. The cover is from ebay and is the same as the image on t-shirts and badges sold at the gig last night, so I guess it's final. Is it an Anthony Frost painting (Extricate)?
The PR also says that Renegade will be out on 1 May.
added 29 February
Thursday, 28 February Von Südenfed at Borealis Contemporary Music Festival, Bergen, Norway
Mark is participating in this year's Brighton Festival. He'll be reading from Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith at the Old Court House on 24 May at 3 p.m. Tickets £7.50. Information and ticket booking.
update: The reading sold out in six hours.
added 19 February
Conway is running a Fall studio album competition over on the forum.
The Fall Albums League 2008 will be a round robin series of matches between the 27 studio albums (including Seminal Live, which has a substantial studio element). Each album will meet every other album once over the 26-week course of the competition. As there is an odd number of albums taking part, one album will get a bye each week. A points table will be kept on the following scoring system:
2 points for a win
1 point for a draw
0 points for a loss
1 bonus point will be awarded if a winning album receives 80% or more of the votes in a match.
In the event of a tie in the final table placings, the ranking will be determined by reference to the votes for/against differential.
Sanctuary has announced details of the new Fall album. It's not "Latch Key Kid" after all.
Imperial Wax Solvent. Released on Castle, hopefully in March. Sanctuary has worldwide rights; Narnack is out of the picture. Artwork coming in a week or so.
1. Alton Towers
2. Wolf Kidult Man
3. 50 Year Old Man
4. I've Been Duped
5. Strangetown (Groundhogs cover)
7. Can Can Summer
8. Tommy Shooter
9. Latch Key Kid
10. Is This New (co-written with Andi Toma of VS/MoM)
11. Senior Twilight Stock Replacer
12. Exploding Chimney
The Hammersmith Palais 1 April 2007 CD/DVD has been put on hold but should be later this year.
19 Feb. update: Mark is tinkering with the final mix and artwork, and there's still no confirmed release date. Hopefully it'll still be out next month sometime.
added 19 February
Tom Hingley and the Lovers -- featuring Steve and Paul Hanley -- have their new album "Highlights" released on 10 March.
They will be playing some gigs to support the new album:
15 April 2008 - Ruby Lounge Manchester (album launch party)
17 April 2008 - Liverpool Carling Academy
18 April 2008 - Oxford Carling Academy
19 April 2008 - Islington Carling Academy
20 April 2008 - Birmingham Carling Academy
Tickets via ticketline.co.uk for the launch party and ticketmaster the rest.
added 21 January
I've added an RSS newsfeed for the Fall news. If you want to subscribe, click the little orange icon at the top of this page.
added 18 January
Jonathan Tingle wrote in to mention a benefit gig he's organizing that may appeal to Fall fans in the London area.
I am hoping that through the Fall website you might help me promote a special charity gig I have organised for a children’s charity called Voice who help vulnerable young people in care by providing an independent advocacy service. It is definitely a gig a lot of the Fall fans who look at the website will like.
Nick Stone has had the good fortune to read Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith and says it's "the best music autobiography I've read since Charles Mingus's Beneath the Underdog." More on his blog.
And now Strontium Dawg on the forum's got his paws on a copy:
I've been lucky enough to get a copy, and I'm about a third of the way through. So far it's an absolute doozy, everything a Fall fan would want from a Mark E Smith book. I say 'Fall fan', because if you didn't know a lot about their history and weren't up to speed with recent Fall happenings, you simply wouldn't understand what he was talking about. It chucks away all the normal rules of autobiography, beginning not with an introduction to him, the band, his childhood etc, but with a rant against Ben Pritchard. (Specifically the interview that appeared on here. And this site is mentioned in line 18 of the book, boys and girls, so we best have a quick tidy round and get the biscuits in before the publication date, as we may have guests.)
For a fan it's an incredible opening and certainly makes you think twice about the content of the original interview. Indeed, the book so far really humanises Mark in a way that I've not seen done before. He virtually admits that a lot of the MES the world sees he partly puts on for protection, and there are loads of little eye-opening revelations like that, alongside -- as you'd expect -- hilarious observations about everything from Hammer horror films to Big Brother, a ton of one-liners and some brilliant insight into his work ethic. All of it done in a way that really rewards long-time followers of the band because it simply doesn't bother fleshing out details for newcomers.
I'm only a third of the way through. Exhaustion got the better of me last night, but if it hadn't I could easily have read it one go, it's that kind of book.
"Good evening, we are The Fall" is the first of (hopefully) a series of musical evenings made up of The Fall's vinyl output.
Dave Guttridge (who usually plays only shellac as DJ78) will be playing a personal and quite random selection of The Fall's music from 8pm - midnight at The Birdcage, 23 Pottergate, Norwich NR2 1DS. Admission is free and Dave is planning to produce a small fanzine for the occasion.
It's a small venue, so numbers will be limited (40 - ish) - get there early for a seat. Requests will be considered on the night.
08jan21 VS / Fall gig reviews, Vice TV's "Soft Focus" int., Messing up the Paintwork conference, message from MES, MES reads Lovecraft, "Latch Key Kid", Suzanne Smith & Claus Castenskiold prints for sale, Flying Nun documentary, Dave Day r.i.p., Renegade preview, MES on BBC radio sitcom "Start", Unofficial Fall site now The Fall Online
07oct16 Fall / Von Südenfed gig reviews, Zone / Jungle World / Chord / Taz interviews (mainly VS-related), Independent Q&A, Fall Box Set reviews, Hammersmith Palais DVD, Mick Middles' Complete Guide, Wyndham Lewis, myspace MES imposter, Fall Cup 2007, Derek Erdman Fall nights, Intermittent Signal (Simon W.), MES fabric doll.
07jul03 Newsnight Review int., Independent Q&A, Barcelona gig, Von Sudenfed reviews & interviews, Fall box set, Julia Adamson, Hurdy Gurdy Man video, Word of Mouth, John Leckie TapeOp int., Reformation video, Ideal TV clip, Record Collector / Manchester Confidential / Harp Magazine ints., Lee on I'm Into CB, official site problems, Foggy Notions letters, PBL fiction collection.
07apr12 UK tour, RPTLC reviews, Narnack edition, Reformation single, Von Sudenfed, MES's 50th, Uncut Q&A, Foggy Notions / Telegraph / Liberation / Rock & Folk interviews, Renegade delayed, Saturn 5, Universal reissues, Culture Show / Transmission TV spots.
07feb22 RPTLC UK released, Malaga gig, MES interviews: Independent, Welt am Sonntag, Stool Pigeon, The Times, Fantastic Man; Johnny Vegas' Ideal preview, Memorex of the Krakens, Anjulireeves on youtube, Packing a Gun, 7 Wives of MES, Saturn 5, Grayson Perry, Brix's "Star," Frank Sidebottom.
06dec30 Reformation Post TLC announcements, NYC & Strangeways gigs, Julia Adamson photos, Dave Milner songs, Gusgus Not Clean remix, Fall forum crash, Sonic Arts Network cd, PBL book, Mitsubishi Blindness, Monks live session, MES on Dylan.
06oct30 Silver Monk Time & Monks gigs, Oct. UK & Ireland gig reviews, Ben Pritchard interview, "Renegade: The Gospel According to MES," MES DJ set on Radio 1, Environmental Health News, Stewart Lee in Sunday Times.
06sep21 Simonfb, r.i.p., Bournemouth & London gigs / UK festivals, Silver Monk Time, Sunday Herald & Maximum RnR interviews, Julia Nagle's latest projects, another Peel tribute CD.
06aug17 Brooklyn Vegan / Arena Homme Plus interviews, Oya Festival, Tesla-K, The Blimp, Tycoons Follies, Artrocker review, Tony Friel archive, PBL book update, KFNY poster, Billboard, more Voiceprint CDs.
06jun13 US tour (second leg), more US press (NYT, The Pitch, SLC Weekly, Stop Smiling), Manchester gig (inc. MEN preview & FT review), What Sven Could Learn from Me (Guardian int. from last year)
06may23 US tour (first leg), US press (LA Alternative, LA City Beat, SF Chronicle, OC Weekly), Smog Monsters, Morley on MCR/L'pool
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.
06feb21 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.
06jan03 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.
05nov08 Fall Heads Roll reviews, UK tour, Incendiary, Rock Sound & Pitchfork interviews, PBL book preview, Commercially Unfriendly cd.
05sep30 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.
05aug18 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.
05jul26 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.
05jun14 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.
05apr27 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.
05feb25 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.
05jan07 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.