Salisbury Arts Centre, May 7
Touch Sensitive Spencer F-Oldin Money He Pep Antidotes (Jung Nev's) This Perfect Day Hurricane Edward Shake Off And Therein Mad Dog Jet Boy On My Own Anecdotes in B# Ol Gang ----- Big New Prinz ----- The Joke
almost one hour on stage.
Venue was an arts centre in a converted church, which made for interesting acoustics. Early on the sound was quite boomy, but that Speth knows her trade and within a couple of numbers the sound was spot-on.
The crying marshall put in an appearance in the re-worked He Pep. Difficult to fault this performance - it was virtually flawless. No antics, no cock-ups, walk-offs or anything. Difficult even to select highlights, it was good from start to finish.
One idiot did complain to the t-shirt vendors: '... if he thinks he can get away with that!'. Perhaps he was disappointed that there was no blood spilt, no-one got arrested or fell down drunk. There's no pleasing some people.
http://www.btinternet.com/~hmhb/fallnet/fallnet.htm (Fall & FallNet)
are the places to look. The Fall were, as Id said, pretty much flawless on Friday night - I can't remember as good a performance for a long time (Sheffield '93 was a good 'un). No dicking about, the whole set as sure and solid as you could get.And "...And Therein" really works as an acoustic outing.
Afterwards, Fall gig revisited - the bloke who was complaining about the Fall being crap the previous night was at the Prolapse gig, recognised me, and couldn't resist airing his views a second time. Seems that the only way he's ever going to be happy is if he gets transported back to somewhere around 1985. Living in the past, yer can't beat it.
>Very docile audience, average age seemed to be about 40.
There was a similar crowd at Salisbury on Friday, but at the front there were a couple of 14(ish) year olds looking forward to their first Fall gig. They knew all the lyrics to the new LP and the history of the band, and left declaring that The Fall were 100 times better live than on record. Another member of the audience who used to follow The Fall round in the early 1980s and got to know Smiffy at that time (MES shook his hand half way through the set on Friday) left thinking it was the worst Fall performance he'd ever seen (admittedly he hadn't been to a Fall gig for a number of years).
There's a lot that can be said for docile audiences. Enjoyment levels of the people at the front was increased after the ejection of a 40 year old who was flailing about more because of bad acid and the need to attract attention than his appreciation of the band.
Hastings, The Crypt, May 8
No reviews - it was supposed to be alright
Sheffield University, May 9
first half good - 2nd half a bit ropy ...
"kill kill" is "kill your sons" and i take it that is the lou reed song ?
no jet boy
touch sensitive hurricane edward this perfect day folding money mad dog on my own he pep antitdotes and therein (was ARSE - on acoustic guitar, for goddsake) shake off anecdotes the joke ol gang
kill your sons big new prinz (tom can't play the beat, but it was okay when you listened to what you were hearing, and not what you WISH you were hearing)
ten houses (sung by the guitarist)
as i have said, mark's hair is now given a number 4 on the front to even it out ...
mark was good but there was a distinct lack of excitement ... maybe yorkshire folk are behind on the new stuff ///
Cheltenham, Attic. May 10
Cheltenham was another fine gig, not quite up to Friday's high standard perhaps, but fun nonetheless. Both of the new covers ("Jet Boy" and "Kill Your Sons" (or whatever it's called)) got an airing, "He Pep!" became "Crying Marshal" lyrically, etc etc. MES managed to get virtually all the words out of time with the music in "Touch Sensitive", a phenomenal feat. No different material from other nights.
Cambridge Junction, May 11
>From: "Paul Walsh"
>Supported by Rico - would be easy to slag them off as mere grunge but they
>were actually good - the phrase "soundbath" kept popping into my head as
>the waves of sound broke over me. Wouldn't buy the LP, tho'.
>Crowd - on the low side in numbers. Met a friend of mine who seemed pleased
>we'd turned up "it was 20 single blokes like me until you lot arrived" was
>his take. Eventually about 1/3 to 1/2 full.
>The Fall - weird intro tape that sounded like it was played backwards - so
>good they played it about 3 times - someone shouting "time gentlemen" and
>we'd have been complete. No Julie, MES in a smart lemon shirt and suit
>looking about 10 years younger than the Dingwalls gig last year - bassist,
>guitarist and drummer looking very ordinary. Well maybe not the drummer,
>who looked like a drummer. MES didn't fidget or mess about very much during
>the set - did his usual tricks of banging the keys on the keyboard and
>adjusting the mikes to point at the drum set - but actually seemed
>The songs - mostly off Marshall Suite as you'd expect. 'touch sensitive'
>about 2 songs into set - version of 'foldin money' that sounded very good
>live - 'antidote' - some older material 'he pep' and then - amazingly - a
>version of 'jet boy jet girl' by The New York Dolls (c.1972) and 'kill your
>sons' off 'sally can't dance' by Lou Reed (c.1974). MES in a glam racket
>Short set - 40 mins or so - very muted reaction from crowd but band did 2
>encores - think crowd sussed that if they were very quiet then they'd get
>an encore - cheer and they might not - sort of an anti-encore really.
> >It won't go down as one of the all time classic Fall gigs, which I think
>was down to the audience/venue rather than the band who were very tight.
>Quelle irony, huh?
>yeh, good gig.........
>......mmmmmm perhaps too good, kind of dissappointed that MES didn't make me wonder what the f..k i was doing there.....where is thati-want-me-money-back-and-mcbride-got-me-here-under-false-pretences feeling?
>didn't know half the set, he-pep in a pseudo-techno stylee with strong vocal from guitarist sounded fresh, and committed.
>first encore big new prinz was wicked, polished, loud, bloody excellent.
>dodgy bass on spencer (deliberately non-hanley solid ??) countered by 'special' guitar twitterings - when MES finally waded in the whole sound thought it was dropping into a track by REM that I can't quite place (off green) - soon changed to a great rendition.
more please, or should that be less ? strange really.....
There was an unoccupied keyboard on the stage, implying the recent or temporary departure of J. Nagle. The sound of drum/bass and guitar was wonderful, that dark brown noise that I've always loved about them. They played and therein lies the difference with acoustic guitar and brushes, lovely rockabilly. I thought they were gorgeous. Very docile audience, average age seemed to be about 40. Antidote was thunderous. MES didn't smile this time but the guitarist sure was happy.
Quick report to add to the others. There were maybe 150 people. Old-looking crowd -- significantly more so than in recent London gigs. Venue didn't exactly look empty but there was breathing room for all.
Good versions of The Joke, Big New Prinz (well, you might argue it was New Big Prinz), F-Olding Money, And Therein. Absolutely terrible underkeyboarded version of He Pep! Enjoyed the new covers.
Funny moment during He Pep! when MES noticed the smoke machine that was running and came up with new lyrics "Turn that smoke machine off / I'm not that desperate yet" as he wandered over to abuse it.
My companions, neither of whom had seen the Fall since 1993, needed some persuasion to come along but came away saying it was better than they expected. They commented on the smugness of `that guitar player'; he was apparently beaming `Look at me, I'm in The Fall' across to them. The new Fall are definitely better now they've had practice and got their own material to perform, but they still lack the drive that Hanley gave them.
Cambs: good solid gig
Southend Chinnerys, May 12
Southend: stormer. Four sets of encores (Smithy present for all of them). Young people in audience. Rico v. good. Big New Prinz the highlight as usual, Bound also got an airing.
Their new tactic of starting a new song about three-quarters of the way through the previous one is great - even the ropey ones (He Pep, Hurricane) fly past.
I agree, Southend gig was great one. It was really small venue and absolutely packed. Have they played Bound before in this tour? Cracking song, shame about the bland version in MS. Last night was somehow resembling Leicester gig. Maybe the small venue gets the best out of the band.
Luton Venue 21, May 13
MES wore the same trousers that he's worn at every Fall gig I've ever been to (those black ones with the pleats and the cheap black belt), but as usual wore a watch I'd never seen before (a huge digital thing that probably dates to 1981).
Silly people in crowd "dancing" (ie charging about) knocked me into the bass speaker in front of the stage during Ol Gang, just as I'd picked up my beer. This was my last bit of beer for the night and the bar had closed. I was upset, but not as upset as I was when I realised it used to be the music that left me winded, and now it takes a thump!
The venue was quite odd, it was very new and shiny with a shiny circular bar with lots of lights almost in the middle of the hall. It had a youth club sort of feel to it, but at the same time was a pretty comfortable place for 30 and 40 somethings to watch a gig in. The stage had three steps going up to it, the width of the stage, like something out of a Busby Berkeley musical, but sadly MES didn't make use of them. Anyone attempting to climb or jump up them was warded off by a burly bouncer, whose main activity however, seemed to be collecting plastic beer glasses in one place at the end of the steps. The beer was surprisingly good, Grolsch was available at any rate and the taps were very shiny, of course. There was plenty of room at the front because I reckon half the people there had never heard of The Fall (Luton is the kind of place where people are so pleased to see a touring band they go anyway).
Interesting drunk in the pub beforehand was standing next to me at the bar, swaying back and forth very gently, mumbling something incomprehensible every time the barmaid said anything to me. He was not in the band.
Weather cloudy, a short drive with no incidents, and remarkably we found the venue very quickly without having a clue where it was.
I'll tell you about the music later, michael,
The last time I saw The Fall was at The Ritz in Manchester last Christmas, they were awful...not tonight, a great gig, energy, powerful playing and MES givin' it some. The set really flowed with the more asbstract tracks like Hurricane sounding like interesting soundscapes rather than a baggy racket......all the "Marshall" tracks were spot on and delivered with a real punch in the guts......the stripped down "And therein" sounded like it should always have been played like that...."Big New Prinz" was a corker, MES spitting out the words like they'd just been written and if he didn't get them out , there'd be trouble...."Jet Boy", a New York Dolls classic was done to perfection.... the crowd were up for it and gave them the reception they desrved......it wouldn't have been a Fall gig if someone didn't get a lashing and this time the roadie got it for the dead keyboard (is this a stock requirement for The Fall?) which, never the less MES made him play (can't remember which song).....Jacket on, jacket off, twat the mic, stalk the stage, check yer nails, tonight Mathew, MES & co. were the mighty Fall........
So anyway, The Fall came on and played an interesting intro, a gentle lilting thing with lyrics derived I think from Birthday Song (including "even though you are in the wrong town, I am with you in the next room") and The Crying Marshal. Then I think they went into something else I didn't really recognise. The lyrics were something about "his brother was a kick boxer, it was the kick boxing championships that week", and I remember hearing something like this last week in the middle of Kill Your Sons, but this wasn't Kill Your Sons.
Then they hit Touch Sensitive, which was absolutely fucking blinding and went on for about a minute and a half. After that the order is blurred in my mind, but it included a 30 second rendition of Hurricane Edward, He Pep (with a keyboard player), a two minute version of The Joke, during which MES had to go over and grinningly count the drummer back into time, a brilliant Big New Prinz, another great And Therein, and a fantastic rendition of Kill Your Sons. Antidotes was enormous. All the songs seemed to be about half the length they were in Birmingham (which were half the length of the records). It's lucky the tour ends soon or there'd be no set left. The only low point of the set was Ten Houses of Eve which was a mess musically and which Nev completely ruined with his singing. I'm getting a tad worried by Nev, who is just a little bit too cocky I reckon for a mere musician.
The keyboards were working, but they were mixed very low indeed and I don't think Mark could hear them, he gave up trying to play and hit them with the microphone instead.
Incredibly, we got not one, not two, but three encores, although something seemed to be going not to plan. At the end of the second one (Anecdotes), MES threw the microphone on the floor before walking off. When they came back on (and these musicians were milking the applause a bit, maybe they dragged him on), they ran through something new, which was somewhat truncated by MES stamping off and signalling to the rest of the group to come off as well, which they did, although Nev struck a couple more chords.
Maybe whatever that was about will affect tonight, but I shouldn't think so. I think this tour can definitely be called a success.
London Forum, May 14
Thoroughly enjoyed the Forum gig, despite less than wonderful sound. Great to see the place packed (after recent times, I thought that I'd never see so many people gathered in front of The Fall again). Apparently, they were better at Leeds, but I wasn't there to judge. Striking thing was the efficiency of it all. Song: bang. Another song: bang etc. etc. Yes I know.... Fall and efficiency do not usually appear in the same sentence, but that's really how I can best describe it.
I felt exactly the same at the Birm/Chelt gigs.
The band seem to have 'got their act together', and the short 'Hurricane ed' and 'PEP' seem to blend in well with Marshall material. And the accoustic 'And therein' is mighty fine.
Quite a shock for the Fall to perform a whole tour without incident..
Well what a surprise.
The Fall have turned into an indy band.
Previous to this I would have said that live Fall songs were dragged out too much and were 'muddied' with too much bass and drums, now the songs are too short! and apart from the Forums crap sound things are a lot better balanced - hell I could even work out what Mark was singing.
Fiona is right about the delivery though. Short sharp and to the point. I suppose I didnt like the all new efficiency, a bit of singing from off stage, knob twiddling and bemused looks between band members might have been nice to see.
Sorry but of course I can never name half the songs or remember the order.
F-Olding Money was disapponting cedrtainly not as good as recorded. Seem to lack punch and didnt have that Rockabilly rolling to it.
Touch Sensitive was too short.
3 encores the last of which lasted 15 secs? and I was the only person I knew who recognised it - Chicago now! it sounded brilliant and I was so looking forward to hearing it and then somebody hit Nev with a beer glass (yes I didnt understand the flying beer glasses either) and they left, though I think they were going to leave anyway.
Rich's tour summary, of sorts......
And so the whole thing was wound up at the Forum. A further reminder of why I dislike London so much - you always meet smashing people there, but you can end up in cavernous venues with godawful sound.
The Forum was packed, as people have said. I moved around loads - far right, front, left, middle, back and the sound was echoey as hell all over. Speth had done a really good job all the way through the tour, so I think it was just an unequal struggle with the acoustics. Channel 4 were filming it which struck me as equally pointless really - if they *are* doing a tv prog, then splicing in a few minutes from a random gig with terrible sound and Mark losing his voice isn't really going to demonstrate anything. Can we do that again loves? I had to go just at the end of Big New Prinz, just as the plastic glasses were starting to rain down (which seems to be another London thing eh?). The band weren't bad at all, it was completely unjustified.
So, out of the five dates I saw, they'd have to go in the order: 1. Southend 2. Luton 3. Leicester 4. Cambridge 5. London
Southend and Luton really showed just how much it's worth travelling to somewhere crap to see them. The band did a terrific job - dead tight but good enough to vary the songs as required. They gradually drilled themselves into starting the next song early, and it worked well - all the sets were short but packed with songs.
Tom & Adam - these two work really well as a rhythm section. The bass returns to the background (where, to be honest, it often was in the Hanley days) underpinning the sound - the drums way up front and solid as a rock.
Nev - seems to have lost the apparent smugness of earlier gigs, and all the better for it. At Leicester he looked a bit bored, and the only really got animated for Antidotes - later on though he got to add a bit more with b. vocals. In Ten Houses, despite looking alarmingly like James Dean Bradfield (and Gez reckoned this as well), him singing the first half of the song worked. As the tour wore on, his kecks seemed to become baggier by the day. Highlight was the Rock'n'Roll riff thrown in at Leicester.
MES: remarkably cheerful, considering his voice became more shredded towards the tour's end. I hate to list these things, but take them as pointers: no (well, very little) amp-knob tweaking, no shoving, no long absences. Only one "play that one again". Not at all malevolent.
Song highlights: all of them really. There's hardly been a time in the past where I've enjoyed every song in a Fall set - there's always been two or three stinkers. Here I guess that He Pep should have been dropped, and probably Hurricane, but Mad Man.Eng Dogs was great, even On My Own & Birthday. The new covers - I wonder, I wonder? That Kill Your Sons fitted him like a glove.
So, after a run of a dozen gigs, all of which were good or better, we're left with all personnel intact. Can't help thinking it's shown people a thing or two.
From The Times:
Mr Grumpy enjoys himself
The Fall Foundry, Birmingham
Although these Mancunian punk veterans have always had a high turnover of personnel, with the combative singer Mark E. Smith as the sole constant, their recent history has been unusually stormy. Smith was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend, a former Fall member, last year. He also recently sacked his entire band, replacing them with three young unknowns. Despite these ructions, the band's latest album, The Marshall Suite, finds them on impressively robust form. At the Birmingham Foundry on Wednesday, Smith arrived to rapturous cheers from a crowd clearly relieved that this increasingly erratic elder statesman had bothered to turn up at all.
The new-look Fall played in tight formation, never risking any flashy diversions which might arouse the ire of their pugnacious paymaster. Smith, meanwhile, delivered a characteristically garbled stream of boiling vitriol, surreal social comment and barely comprehensible doggerel. Highly literate yet defiantly primitive, the singer's mongrel lineage owes as much to the Northern sarcasm of John Lennon as to the livewire intensity of punk rock.
Subtlety was not much in evidence, with the pre-recorded piano ripples of On My Own providing almost the sole respite from bludgeoning basslines and hacksaw guitars. Far more characteristic was the recent single, Touch Sensitive, a burly garage-rock bruiser brimming with acidic sneers and jeers. A handful of grinding dirges blighted the set's mid-section, but otherwise Smith sounded as wired and inspired as ever. Unlike most bands, the Fall have not mellowed with age. Indeed, it is a testament to Smith's commendably anti-commercial instincts that he has maintained an almost unlistenably raw sound for two decades.
In the past, Smith has dabbled in everything from electronic beats to experimental jazz arrangements, but as middle age approaches he increasingly resembles one of those bellicose pioneers of the early rock'n'roll era. In Birmingham he even appropriated the obscure rockabilly composition F-Oldin' Money as if it were one of his own.
They may be past their prime, or simply in mid-career flux, but the Fall still embody an untamed spirit of fractious dissent in British rock.
Alan's Marshall Suite vs Levitate comparison:
shake off is as good as ol gang as the standout track
marshall is as good as inch as the big techno noise track
bound is as good as masquerade
antidotes is as good as inch
anecdotes is as good as hurricane edward
birthday song is way better than I come and stand
inevitable is way better than levitate, which is shite
mad eng is way better than tragic days
foldin' money's about as good as mummy as a cover
on my own is about the same as everybody but mesel'
touch sensitive's about as good as ten houses
in fact, the two albums mirror each other quite well
but maybe you're right and doc shanley swings it in lev's direction.....
not to mention the 'bonus' disc - levitate's third movement
990509 Leicester, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, Salisbury reviews; NME fave songs bit
990426 Guardian interview, Brix interview, more album reviews, MES' radio session
990419 more Marshall Suite reviews, NME chat, live at Sound Republic XFM session, tbly#15 out
990411 Couple of Marshall Suite reviews, Live 77 details, 1985/1987 interviews
990330 Touch Sensitive reviews, Marshall Suite details
990320 Shake-off lyrics, tour details
990314 MES Escape interview
990308 Ashton Tuesday reviews, Falling Through Time part 1, Dragnet reissue
990302 Ashton Sunday and Monday reviews
990221 LP announcement, Inch reviews
990214 not much
990207 various stuff
990128 Peel Sessions CD review
990118 Uncut pieces, Marcia interview, NZ art collection
990110 NME LA2 review, modern rock sociology
990103 Manchester Ritz reviews
Old stuff: Nov 1997 - Dec 1998
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