The Fall play London Astoria on 16 December. Tickets GBP 10.50 available from box office 0171 434 9403/4, Stargreen 0171 734 8932 ( + unspecified large markup), Ticketmaster 0171 244 4444 (+ 4 quid markup), Rough Trade, Rhythm (Camden)
The next Peel session will be broadcast on November 4th.
Latest mailshot from Key Mail Order....
6th November - `Nottingham 92' [Trent Poly, 15 March]
Time Enough At Last
Blood Outta Stone
Idiot Joy Showland
High Tension Line
Married, 2 Kids
New Big Prinz
Birmingham School Of Business School
The War Against Intelligence
St. Bernadette's Hall, Whitefield, Manchester, 21 October 1998
I seem to remember saying a while back that watching Ark was like watching your favourite pet die slowly.....I think I've just seen it happen again.
Briefly: Arrived far too early, did a brief tour of a few pubs in Prestwich.
The gig - price on the door went up a quid from the advertised price. Support band awful - kids playing at being Faith No More.
The Fall arrived on stage at around 10.30pm. Same line up before, didn't look like they'd practiced since the LA gig. No new material whatsoever - virtually the same set as the Astoria, including F-olding Money and This Perfect Day (encore). The version of Pharmacist 'improvised' at the end of the main set was so appalling it was almost funny. Almost. Can't see any future for this band at present.
Even my camera packed up after three photos, no doubt in sympathy with the occasion. They can be viewed at the following location:
OK, a few hours have passed. Was it as bad as all that? Er, yes, it probably was.
A few more recollections:
o The 'venue' was a social club with a bar (er, surprised?), chairs around the side, large space in the middle for people to stand - room for a few hundred, although there can't have been more than 80-90 there. Easily the least well attended Fall gig I've been to! No stage lighting whatsoever, and a PA which looked more like a standard hi-fi amp in a cupboard with a couple of hi-fi speakers on beer crates (see photos). Sounded OK, though.
o The set started off OK - it wasn't until around half way where the first song ending was buggered up, and it seemed to slip away after that. As I said before, the version of Pharmacist (which can't have been planned) was the most shambolic I've ever seen. Karen obviously didn't know the song, and a blind dog could probably have played Julia's 'solo' bit better. Listening to the recording on the way home, it didn't sound quite so bad, but it was a painful experience at the time by the end.
The drummer said they have recorded a new single at PWL (4 tracks) recorded the day after the Peel session - he wouldn't spill the beans on the story behind the forthcoming Peel session - "you'll have to wait and see" he said.
I'm still in a state of shock after last night. What a miserable performance it was. Mind you, having said that, MES was on good form. Pity about the rest of them (and that includes Julia..... listening to her attempt to play the fast thrashy guitar bit in Pharmacist on the tape this morning was terrible.... even worse than live, and I just didn't think that was possible).
I was in Philly, and shambolic though it was, it was 50 times better than last night. Even witnessing Hanley smacking MES with his bass was nothing compared to last night. I counted 47 people (not including those playing pool in the back). The numbers may have swelled a bit when the Fall came on, but not much. I just stood there wishing they would finish. There was no energy, no tension, just 4 people standing there reeling out songs to earn some money. Julia looked energetic, but it seemed misplaced somehow. MES knew it was crap. I hope it's better this evening, because it couldn't get any worse.
I agree with Gez; just no future for them as it stands.
the trouble with you British People is you're Spoilt Victorian Childs: - you get to see the Fall a few times a year as it is, and then get all stroppy if one gig isn't quite as good as another. So what went wrong at Bernadettes? Apparently the Fall played a competent first half and then it went a bit wobbly toward the end, and they had the bloody nerve not to play lots of new material and sound exactly like they did in 1987. Mr Pharmacist, also, by all accounts, was a tad under-rehearsed. And MES has had the blinking bloody cheek to look a bit older then he used to - and - horrors! - apparently he DIDN'T BRUSH HIS HAIR!!! Well, I don't know about you, but that's the end of the Fall as far as I'm concerned. Oh and the wallpaper was horrid.
al, off to sulk in the corner
From: David I. Williams
... and so the Thames Valley Vectra rolled nervously into Prestwich. LA2 had been so comprehensively accepted as a return to form ... of sorts ... and yet the flaws in that show were palpably masked by the presence ... the focussed and determined presence ...on that night, of MES. "How would it come across if HE has a bad night?" "What could be his motive for these low-profile shows in a crummy little hall in his own back-yard", I wondered. It could mean only one thing .. new material to test out before a small, tolerant and compliant audience of friends. Yes that must be it ...
A solid opening, which serves to emphasise the change in sound between this band and the Hanley sound. Karen's bass has it's own distinctive dynamic; softer, funkier, feminine in character. There's a vulnerability to her playing, stage presence and stance which is somehow compelling (or is testosterone clouding my judgement again?). Ol Gang ends several minutes too soon ...
Fine version. This song suits this line-up.
A slightly lumpy rendition, despite Julia's energetic efforts.
Good, but then this one rarely disappoints. Mark finds it necessary to give us a second 'Good evening, we are The Fall', just in case we were in any doubt, I suppose.
Julia is driving the show along at this point, but Karen soon loses the plot, missing the key change not once but twice. Wry smiles are exchanged, but this incident proves to be a turning point of an, until now, adequate performance.
Lives up to it's name. Here, the three musicians appear to be entirely unaware of one another. Thomas' drumming is somewhere in between Julia's guitar part and Karen's bass, but the three players are rarely in the same place at the same time. When the song mercifully draws to a close - in three stages, naturally - the bar staff seize the opportunity to ring the last-orders bell. When the inevitable audience heckle follows, and despite lacking any sense of comic timing, circumstances nonetheless demand a quiet chuckle.
By now Thomas' one-dimensional 'keep-the-beat' style had begun to sound quite limited, so it was fun to see him struggle to keep up with the DAT rhythm on this one. He looked geuinely relieved when the quiet segment arrived.
This is sometimes powerfully uplifting, but more often excruciating, to listen to. Tonight Julia gave us 'excruciating'. As a guitarist, Julia has her limitations and struggles to carry this one - it's the picked parts that expose her limitations, she's fine on the thrashy parts.
No, I'm sorry, this lineup just hasn't the punch needed to do this one justice.
This one actually sounded as if the band may have played it once or twice in the past week, so I guess it will probably feature in the Peel Session or perhaps the next recorded release. Let's hope so.
Preceded by a curious, and brief, a capella rendition by Mark, to kill time while Julia loads the correct DAT. Julia attempts a spirally guitar overlay. It doesn't work.
Appeared to be improvised - we've heard Mark shout out the opening 'Hey, Mr Pharmacist' before, as a tease. This time Julia took up the challenge ... and no doubt wishes she hadn't. Mark makes no attempt to disguise his embarrassment and leads the band quickly off the stage. They return for ...
This Perfect Day:
The crafty beggar: now he's got us paying 6 to 8 quid a shot to watch his band rehearse!
On reflection, I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon and write off The Fall - that's been done a few times already - and he's a resilient so-and-so. Last night's performance was unrehearsed - and yes, it was shambolic - but there is something strangely compelling about this regression. This show was reminiscent of a young band playing their first nervous gig at their local youth club - where exactly can The Fall go from there? File under bizarre gig experiences.
Arse that 2nd night was 'tight as a drum', but the first one was bizarre enough to be very memorable. The pics look like it's a living room really a lot, which is quite disturbing.
I quite enjoyed most of it really, although there were a few wincing moments. It seemed to improve on the return journey home.
I waved at MES when he arrived but he didn't see. Everyone was dressed in either black grey or purple I think, which lent events a rather somber tone against the blue wallpaper.
I remember bouncing along to Ol Gang, Touch Sensitive, Pharmacist (although I was singing it as the original and MES was singing a mad sort of version which made me look like a fool), Calender, Pep and a few others.
St. Bernadette's Hall, Whitefield, Manchester, 22 October 1998
Torrential rain driving over the moors to Manchester to find probably the best venue for a Fall gig that I've ever been to. St. Bernadettes is a catholic social club in one of the least fashionable suburbs of Manchester. Door through to pool table and TV for members only, bright lights all night, not even dimmed noticably when the band came on. Fantastic.
Support band where what all support bands should be: young, too loud, varying hair styles, a drummer from the Keith Moon school and a couple of good cover versions to keep your toes tapping. Most importantly they didn't outstay their welcome.
Mark's mum and sister wandering about all evening and the whole thing had the feel of The Fall playing in your living room. "Good evening we are The Fall. Sorry about the door policy" opened MES with slight smile. Un-needed microphone stand thrown on the floor, set lists scrutinished, crumpled up, thrown away, picked up again. They were tight as a drum, Julia now very much in control of things and Tommy (an occassional extra in The Rovers Stve) hammering away like a good un. Highlights for me were Hurricane Edward, Levitate and Folding Money. The band were smiling and enjoying themselves. Smithy giving Tommy a hard time occassionally, but I reckon he can take it.
Perhaps they shouldn't have bothered with Masquerade and Mr Pharmacist at the end but it's got to rank amongst the very best shows I've seen them do.
This Nation's Saving Grace was last week's pick in Crucial Cuts in the Sunday Times Culture Section, the bit where they usually select lowest com denom hoary old rock "classics" so that you can stack them up blindly in a pile and say "now THAT's what I call a coffee table". Everything Robert Sandall wrote about TNSG was so cut through with condescension (like he was desperately covering his back in case anybody reading it might think he wasn't familiar with Proper Music) that I really don't know why he even bothered. I can't believe anybody would have bothered checking it out on the basis of his feeble advocacy. I didn't risk typing it up in case I vomited over my keyboard.
A few reviews from Rock Mag! which I inputted years ago but never posted... enjoy...
The Fall - Cerebral Caustic (Permanent)
The monochromaticness of The Fall is a different, less cosmic issue, as Fall music is more like philosphy and current events. They transcend the monochromaticness more than Royal Trux anyway, though, and you gotta remember that, hey, Hagerty is a Mothers of Invention fan after all, right? Well, The Fall, great band that they are, actually cover a Mothers of Invention son on this album! The heavy concentration of wacky cute music, more importantly, makes this album more a collection of baubles than any album they've ever released before, and that is certainly a transcendental agent. Mark says cryptically that thing can seem to come and go in seven-year cycles, and the rock energy that was suggested on Middle Class Revolt here takes over in the form of the amazing return of Brix (!) and post-garage band music with repetitious minimalist hooks and higher energy melodies (sung laconically by Mark, of course.) Their other styles gel nicer as respites from this now dominant element (so dominant that Craig Scanlon, seemingly another proponent of sixties-garage, is happy to contribute music in this vein as well) to help make a pretty cohesive album here (one of their "best" in this regard.) Mostly, though, these hook-laden songs rule tremendously and maybe they'll finally have a hit in England! SUMMATION: With the Mothers tune they cover ("I'm Not Satisfied," from Freak Out) being easily the greatest, most unique piece of garbage produces by any groups all year, plus amazing punk energy ("The Joke"), plenty of good sociological anecdotes, real repetitious music composed by Karl Burns (!), and "One Day" being probably the most rocking rockabilly tune they've written since "Container Drivers" (!), this album shapes up as a real winner!
The Fall - Middle Class Revolt a.k.a. The Vapourisation of Reality (Matador)
Having realized what a cool Fall LP 1991's Shift Work is only recently, some light has been shed on what was lost with the Fall's resurgence (two American tours and seemingly a lot of lineup shake-ups); the journalistic, mature post-modern folk-rock style of a band settled in their esoteric scene. While some of that feeling is redeemed early on here with "15 Ways," and "Reckoning" (a particularly smooth, non-angular hook-oriented music which sounded a bit like The Kinks might have sounded had they not lost their way around 1970 or so). This is great stuff, but it's just one element on their palette at this point. Now there's no mistaking the new potential expansiveness (in reaction to what they've been through business-wise with the band, and, I guess, personally in the last few years) of space adding a more exhilirating energy, a sense that The Fall are blazing into new territory again. What this energy has often manifested itself into in rock history is punk rock, and lest we forget (and you could, considering the amount of great music The Fall have made in the last decade), The Fall were one of the greatest punk bands ever. So it's not coincidental that The Fall end up doing punk again! ("Hey! Student": "Pay Your Rates" or "2x4" style punk rock). Very nice to hear, but again, just one element on their palette, an eclecticism particularly evident on this new LP.
The element of The Fall that the alternative rock reactionaries sometimes unfortunately focus on is their relationship to dance music forms. Along a related, also misguided, line comes accusations of an alleged over-production; no realization that Mssrs. Scanlon and Hanley are still using amazingly cheap equipment! Of course, the best thing about the dance aspect (the synths, drum machines, the remixes, the generally dope beats) is that it's great to see them put themselves back underground to insert anti-dynamicism and literature into a youth X Generation scene, but it would be to miss the point to not see that this aesthetic has always been related to what The Fall do. The Fall have always turned all their noise sources and sound functions into singular objects (why there's rep-e-tish-un-in-the-mu-sic), so it's really no wonder at all that they would be influenced by (and choose to be contemporary by emulating) dance musics that rely on sampling and mechanical beats. And again, it doesn't mean it's not just another manifestation of their symphonic junkyard science-fiction clamor, or that there isn't room for plenty of other stuff like rockabilly and '60s garage. Also: heart-rending ballads, funny little stylistic ambiguities ("Symbol of Mordgan"), self-referentiality to their tremendous ouevre. Great playing: "The most important thing about The Fall is Steve on the bass," said MES at one point, and Steve Hanley has always delivered -- a solid rumbling -- with restrained intervallic choices and note placement, not to the point of the avant-garde innovations of early Holger Czukay or John Cale in the Velvet Underground, but The Fall are mostly a pop band and a rock band nowadays (compared with, say, 1983.) And Craig, as always, too is covering all ground with solid sheets of trebly fake-Fender solid state sounds (Is it that he would trust no others?) Comparitive Fall album time (and remember, all Fall records are (still) of approximately the same quality): not as awesome a flow throughout as the last three albums. Curious how, as with Extricate, when they have an eclectic amalgam LP shaping up, they make it top-heavy.
There was a review in the papers of the "Pearl City" Chinese restaurant in Manchester - "not the best, but certainly the biggest" was the conclusion.
And any 17 year old miners might like to investigate the history of Swaledale lead mining, for copious references to the Old Gang mine. There's a big map of it in Reeth's Folk Museum.
And Ken Sproat sent me a piece from the Guardian on the Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, murdered by the Nazis. It mentions the Gurs concentration camp in France, which was built near the town of, wait for it, Oloron.
981009 NME interview, TBLY #13
981005 F-olding Money lyrics, couple of PNM reviews, Simon Rodgers' career
980927 Live Various Years details/review, 1994 interview
980920 more snippets
980914 bits & pieces
980907 NME interview, Post Nearly Man reviews, Mojo's How to Buy The Fall, Something Beginning With O
980831 Inertia tour details
980825 various snippets
980817 Observer interview, Manchester and LA2 gig reports
980811 Melody Maker interview, Live Various Years details, previews. Rick.
980802 Spoken word LP press release, Northern Attitude key & sleevenotes, Edwyn Collins, TBLY #12 details
980727 FallNet address change
980719 Spoken word LP and band details (from NME), Disney's Dream Details
980713 MES & Elvis, several lyric/literary refs, a few reviews of the rereleases
980706 Some Grotesque/PBL details, Twilight Zone stuff
980620 MES communication, MES font, Falling Through Time, Grotesque/PBL rerelease details, Northern Attitude ripoff, British Grenadiers
980614 Fall cover version details, US tour provisional dates, BEF
980607 not much...
980531 The Fall as a can of beans with a dead mouse inside, Lovecraft, Bracewell
980525 Lay of the Land, old fan club stuff
980517 Alchemy, chiliasm, Michael Bracewell spouting bollocks
980510 Another NME report
980504 Dingwalls and Reading reviews; Guardian, NME articles; pointers to Fall pics and PSF's Fall tribute
980426 German Levitate review, Dee Pop's tour diary
980419 NME online report, Lathe of Heaven
980414 Wire Levitate review
980410 More Philly reviews, Black Cat DC, NY Brownies reviews. Loads of stuff on the Thule group. Select interview from January
980405 CIH, Loop Lounge, Middle East Boston, Plilly Troc reviews. Various press reports.
980331 Details of Live in Melbourne 82 CD, Smith on Smith spoken word CD, Nine Unknown Men, initial Coney Island High reports
980329 bollocks Smile comp details
980322 Vox interview, other stuff
980315 TBLY/Info service details
980308 Peel session details; US tour dates
980227 a few bits & pieces, RTL, PoSR out
980222 NME interview
980215 Destroy punk covers exhibition, Masquerade single details
980207 Brats award transcript
980130 Bits on NME Award, POSR/RTL reissue details
980125 Shanley i/view
980118 Time Out interview w/pics, Melody Maker review, Oh Brother press release, Oxford review
980111 Dutch Opscene interview
980104 Melody Maker interview
971221 Not much
971211 Portsmouth, London, Cambridge, Norwich, Bristol reviews
971203 Oxford, Stoke, Leeds, Liverpool reviews; Esquire interview
971125 Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stoke reviews
971116 Manchester reviews, Loaded interview
971112 Band back together, teletext interview
971110 NME report, various Dublin/Belfast disaster reports
971109 First Dublin/Belfast reviews
Return to The Fall homepage