Derby Victoria Inn, 19th December
Then went into The Victoria Inn where sat me, an alcoholic called Dave, and The Fall minus Smith.
Dave (leering)- Are you all in The Fall then?
Someone- We're going to be The Fall, later.
nicety of distinction
Smith at bar later, looking well, saying how much he liked Derby. Then went into usual schtick about not liking musicians, saying that playing Derby was good for their discipline 'cos when they went to New York they just go on about how cool it is etc.
Anyway, down to the meat- this is a very approximate list in no particular order other than first and last...
Touch Sensitive Kill Your Sons (? this is what i took it to be, my head was very near speaker and Smith is prone to mumbling) He Pep! The Joke The Caterer Inevitable Ten Houses of Eve Antidotes F-'oldin Money Bound Tom Regazzi Shake-Off (? I can't remember whether they played this, I think they did) Perfect Day Ol' Gang Big New Prinz
maybe more- I was very drunk- there were a couple I didn't know, but they were good. and my brain is determinedly telling me that they played Ivanhoe's Two Pence but I don't think they did, maybe Levitate.
AND IT WAS EXCELLENT.
Good small venue.
All the Marshall Suite stuff sounded fantastic- antidotes, bound, and inevitable sounded really well imagined highlighting what i like about the album. Lots of really different but related sounds. Tom Regazzi was suitably cartoon reggae menacing lots of going up and down hills. The Caterer was brilliant- there's a lot more space in Fall songs nowadays- this weird individual's soliloquoy I find quite affecting- they're a lot simpler in lots of ways, both in words and music, which makes them even stranger and the gig really brought this out.
The Joke, f-oldin' money, perfect day, were really invigorating, not the best ten houses I've heard and I miss the bass a bit in Big Prinz, a lot more guitary this but still good. Ol' Gang was excellent. And Jung Nev's shouting is a damn sight better than Mike Bennett.
The crowd were excellent too, lots of yelling for more. A band at the heighth of their powers, lots of new worlds being spun in new ways- absolutely fantastic.
Myself and Sinister Andy were in the Brunswick near a large group of people, some of whom were in Fall t-shirts but none of whom I recognised. One bloke with big ears was particularly loud, I mean full volume constantly. I said to Andy, he must be deaf. A few minutes later Big Ears approached me with a camera and asked me to take a picture of the whole gang. When I'd done this he asked to take a picture of me "because you're so fucking gorgeous".
..this was Nev. In fact, I'd failed to recognise Tom and Adam as well. Obviously I hadn't bothered to memorise their faces as I never believed they'd still be in The Fall after a year. And maybe Nev is deaf. He certainly doesn't need that microphone they give him.
The gig was OK, but I can't say I was blown away by it. Touch Sensitive was a great start though, it went on for hours with Nev shouting Hey Hey Hey Hey, before old walnut-face appeared and started hitting Julia's keyboards repeatedly and hilariously. The effect of this was heightened by the fact that the keyboards were mixed ridiculously high. And in fact the sound was fairly atrocious all night - the bass was by turns inaudible and chest-pulverising and the drums might as well have been in Nottingham.
Like Tom, I'm not sure what the second song was, I thought that I probably should recognise it but it was such a mangled mess I think they must have written it on the night. This was followed by probably the worst He Pep they've ever played - the backing tape was so quiet that by the time the vocals kicked in you couldn't hear any beat at all. It was nice to hear The Caterer and Tom Ragazzi and Inevitable (the one track on the Marshall Suite that really offers something new), but I don't know if they'll ever write any new songs. Nev may come on like a cross between Keith Moon and Sid Vicious, but he's not a creative powerhouse - he's changed the rhythm of his playing on Antidotes now so that it is almost an exact replica of Kashmir. Ten Houses of Eve is now a total fucking mess as well.
Tom's set list is roughly right, but they did Bound as one of the encores, and they didn't do Shake Off. I didn't see them do Big New Prinz either, unless they came back on after all the lights had come on and played to a lucky few.
Smith was drunk (shock horror!) and fell over twice, but he was in a pretty good mood - I'd have put money on him taking a swing at the sound man. I wouldn't expect any of these pre-Christmas gigs to be as tight as the tour was in the spring - this one certainly wasn't. I try to be optimistic, but I can't see myself travelling very far to see The Fall in future. I've seen enough of the greatest hits packages.
michael, with a special mention for Smith's cardigan, which was probably bought for him from Littlewoods by Kay C in 1978
Sheffield Boardwalk, 20 December
Some great pics up at:
the PA was rubbish, the mix was rubbish, the lighting was dreadful. They had all front lights on full blast and was dreadfull. The crowd were the walking dead bar three chaps at the front. Again Julias keys were way too high and MES popper nearly everyones ear drums when he hit the cymbals with his mic. Late on we were again treated to his latest 'on stage mic stand sculpture' (which would have any shop stewards arse kicked by the heath and safety officials) after a bit of mic lead untangling mid song. And was the mic lead tangled under the mic stand in the first place you ask? Was it chuff!
according to a Derby Fall fan - the same set as Derby with a minor changes. - Shake Off added and No Big New Prinz. He didnt say that Sheff was bad in comparison but that Derby was good perhaps due to the small venue and the fact that it was strange that the fall had to walk through the punters in the pub to get on and off the stage.
Touch (MES took an age to appear)
a new one - Nev shouts a lot in it - It sounds like 'Hands up Polly' or 'Hands Up Billy' with a classic riff that was completely ripped from somewhere. It's probably a cover. I know what the riff is. It's 'Angel In A Hairshirt' (spelling?) by Butterglory. For those tape all the festive 50s - this song was in the late forties about 5 years ago.
GGE (EE) (GGG) E (EEE) repeated all the way through and louder on the chorus. (chords in brackets are double time)
And Therin A Past Gone Mad Foldin Money Hurricane Edward The Joke Caterer White Lightning Ten Houses Tom Ragazzi Antidotes Inevitable
(a call for 'Lay Of The Land' from a punter) Good call. They didnt play it though.
there were two encores -
MES again took ages to re-appear. Perect Day and Shake Off.
we got the new song that mentions 'Quebec' as another encore. "Then a looked outside the window" There are loads of lyrics to this one and I reckon is full of great Smith lines. This is a future classic I reckon.
Ashton Witchwood, 21 December
Usual trip over the fog covered moors with Peter and Ted, looking for Royston Vasey on the way. Haven't been to The Witchwood before. What a dump. Great. They seem to specialise in tribute bands normally judging by the posters for Nearly Dan, AC/DC or is it?, The Jamm, Gunz and Rosez etc. Gave us an enjoyable time inventing new tribute band names. Not many under 35 in the audience. What a superb show; best I've seen them for years - or do I always say that? Tight as a ducks arse and am I right in saying that Nev was born to be in The Fall? Smith looked quite well I thought and in good humour throughout; I'd swear he kissed Nev at the end. Saw Nev very briefly at the end to ask him what the first encore was called. He said he couldn't remember but seemed in good spirits and seemed pleased that it had gone well. He said that they were trying out quite a bit of stuff from the new album.
1st rate Fall. Magnificent.
here's a xmas cracker I took last night during the 2nd encore when he removed his sweatshirt and put on his leather jacket.
there's ten Ashton pics up now
Ashton Witchwood, 22 December
NO XMAS FOR JOHN QUAYS !
set list (as written):
and then (i think)
Fall drummer Tom Head sends all Fall fans his best wishes and an Xmas greeting - and a tip to watch Corrie on New Years Eve.
Manchester's second longest-running soap opera?
Pete Ferreira phones in with the following hot tip:
Two reviews of The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (£7.99) in today's Times and Guardian. No doubt they're on their web sites, but here are the MES-related highlights. Overall, they both reckon the book's not up to too much. Y'know, it's alright....
The Guardian (review by that cunt DJ Taylor - if you've ever had the misfortune to read his A Vain Conceit - an analysis of the Brit lit scene in the 80s - you'll know he knows fuck-all about anything):
"... but the flicker of excitement stirred by the sight of Mark E. Smith's name among the contributors is misplaced: the two-and-a half pages of "No Place Like It" turn out to be horribly slight."
"There are a few gems, however. Mark E. Smith of The Fall fame instantly nails three very different dreamers in the fragmentary No Place Like It."
Xmas NME time. The usual rubbish. Top 50 LPs of the year doesn't include The Marshall Suite, but Touch Sensitive makes it into the singles chart at 36.
From the Sunday Times, as part of their best records of the year thing. Stewart Lee chooses The Marshall Suite as his eighth favourite:
"Claims that Manchester punk survivors The Fall are really back on course have rung hollow before, but the new line-up coupled gamely with the refocused adenoidal carping of gonk-faced frontman Mark E. Smith to reassert them as the best British band of the past 25 years."
Someone sent me a clipping from what I suspect is one of the weekend magazines - The Telegraph? Anyway, it's poet Simon Armitage writing about his hero:
Mark E. Smith is the singer/songwriter with The Fall, who were formed in Manchester in the late 1970s, and their albums have provided a soundtrack to my life. They're not an easy listen; they've got a very repetitive bass line - I once heard him tell a guitarist: "Don't start bloody improvising" - and after terrorising parents and friends over the years, I've now learned to listen to them in the privacy of my own eardrums. Smith's face is sallow and drawn with this terrible little mouth that looks as if he was brought up sucking lemons. He dresses as if he's spent a fiver at Asda and got change from it. His lyrics range from mild disdain to pure bile, but they're very witty. I think his is a northern sensibility, this history of dissent in art, of being an outsider, the snarling underdog - I don't think I'd like him if he had come from Basildon. I've heard that he's a despot and a bully and I think he's sacked everyone in the band at some point. You wouldn't want him round for dinner, but to me he's heroic in the sense that he's managed to keep going in a completely uncommodified way in a business that's obscene in its gloss and glitz. I suppose what I admire is that he's authentic. He's true to himself and his beliefs, however cranky and unfashionable: someone described him as a reactionary republican. Being true to yourself is more important than living up to everyone else's expectations, even if that's difficult, especially if you're a writer. (***Continues in this vein for a bit - Armitage learning to be true to himself, his millennium poem etc. etc.) We don't live in an age of heroes any more, but when you see authenticity - which is a pretty rare thing - in someone you respond to it. I must have seen Smith perform 20 or 30 times but I've only actually met him once. We were on the same bill at a festival of the spoken word and music in The Hague. I went up to him and said something like: "I've got all your albums." He just looked at me and said, "And?" I felt satisfied with that. I didn't want to see any chink of light there. I wanted to be treated equally badly.
Simon Armitage is poet in residence at the Millennium Dome.
THE FALL LIVE 77 (Voiceprint / Cog Sinister)
"He gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, he hid not his face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6)
About sums it up really.
There are parts of this that are probably among the worst quality Fall recordings I have (this is actually saying quite a lot)- it is less clear, in parts, than that gig that was recorded from inside the soundman's bag after the dat machine was confiscated... the version of Louie Louie confirms that MES quote, "the first band I had couldn't even play Louie Louie".
When (or should I say if) you get it don't be put off by the dreadful sound of Psycho Mafia, it improves a lot from then on (apart from patches where it is only just bearable to listen to). But hey we're fucking obsessives and I'm just stating facts, don't for a minute think I wish this hadnae come out.
The people here (who generally like at least one period of fall usually from the early years) who've heard it, have been generally under-awed. In fact, wonder why its been released at all. Historical Importance is obviously only of interest to the truly obsessed. I suspect that really they haven't played it more than once (if that) because this really does grow with <forgive me> repetition. However they are mostly hopeless bastards who wouldn't know a good thing if it bit them. But Historical Importance is indeed what we have here because it talks on a lot of levels, not least through the two tracks that were to disappear into a time warp and arrive back in the Fall repertoire in '84 - Hey Brother and Cop It, now I think I can see why that was. Before I go any further I had better say that there are moments on here right up there with LAWT and Dragnet, in particular Frightened, parts of Futures & Pasts and Repetition these are every bit as thrilling as the versions you know and love already. Dresden Dolls has what sounds like hammond organ electro piano setting jazz riffs, most bizarre in fall context. Recurrent theme is "the spit in the sky lands in your eye"; at the end MES thanks the crowd for all the water, there is a lot of banter between songs to try and stop the spitting, a particular favourite is where MES says, "I don't know about you but I dont' get my mum to wash my shirts, I wash me own, I usually Cop It..." Now I suspect the canning of "Cop(ped) It" regards it's 'showaddywaddy's' no way would they have have fitted on any of the first 3 or 4 fall albums. Such a pop ref is also at the root of 'Oh Brother''s temporary hiatus - MES introdues it as "pop music for todays people, same old fried eggs, oh brother" then it launches painfully into the Don't Fade Away riff - I rather suspect they were jokes that the band dragged out of the cupboard because they were so used to austere recording time they went mad when BB started picking up the tab at the time of WAFWOTF.
Concluding with a version of Louie Louie that makes John The Postman's sound like something tight and thunderous after, "This is our bass players last gig... give him a round of applause... it''s like losing your left leg".
Just popped into my local second hand bookshop and came up with this glorious title: Christgau's Guide: Rock Albums of the 70's. He is a curious character, often elightened and eclectic, he has nevertheless chosen to give the records reviewed a disconcertingly schoolmasterly grade from E- to A+.
The Fall: Live at the Witch Trials (IRS '79) After dismissing this as just too tuneless and crude- wasn't even fast- I played it in tandem with Public Image Ltd. one night and for a few bars could hardly tell the difference. Of course, in this case the heavy bass and distant guitars could simply mean a bad mix, but what the hell- when they praise spastics (sic) and 'the r'n'r dream' they're not being sarcastic (I don't think), and in this icky pop moment we could use some ugly rebellion. How about calling it punk? B+
'I have always found sarcasm very funny indeed'
This here website has an article on The Fall that I haven't seen before- you all probably have.
Under albums that Smith is associated with I notice he is credited with mixing a track on a mix cd called Rocket Fuel (Stefan: looks like a 2xcd compilation that includes Plug Myself In).
also vox on an album by Vinx called The Storyteller
also vox on an album by Vonda Shepherd entitled The Radical Light, one of whose songs (Searching My Soul) was sped up and used as the theme tune to Ally McBeal. Apparently. Bizarrely.
Al spotted the following on the BBC site, this nice article by Joseph Gallivan:
fallcon on the radiohead news site, my friend has sent it to me:
also, there's tenuous fallcon in this cartoon:
if i had a cactus needle, you'd get one for finding the hidden treasure.
.. and from Ed's diary:
tuesday july27 1999 a pretty frustrating day, but now we've been doing this for so long, you realise it can't all be like last week. it starts well with a different version of 'how to dissapear' and 'everything in its right place'. we then get sidetracked by a couple of loose ideas for songs (one is very like the Fall). However we have definitely lost our way with ' you and whose army'- it was sounding great last week, so what happened today? time to go home.
all fuckfaces make some sort of show of not liking some grate fall songs, & also sa 'look they get worse' & 'markesmith is blotto' chiz chiz. wot of it I sa? it is farely obv. that these bugs are only plaing as the next moment they are all agog and sa 'here is newspaper report saing mes has gon upstairs' quick let us mak another list to celebrate ect.
Dave Harrop...was at the Wulfrun, Wolverhampton for a contemporary dance performance. No-one was sick except me when I stumbled across this bizarre bit of Fallcon in the student newsletter thingy:
Over 18s only, Female Trouble DJs
Every Friday, all drinks £1.80
70s Disco, Glam, 80s Credible and Incredible sounds: Abba, The Sweet, Spandau Ballet, Slade, The Rubettes, Duran Duran, Culture Club, T-Rex, The Fall, Adam and The Ants, Bay City Rollers, and Shalamar, Sylvester... Some Motown and Lots More.
and Anal's Xmas party....was run this year by an outfit called the christmas company...
"Following recent events the Christmas Company wishes to formally advise of it's intention and desire to dissociate itself with Gary Glitter. As a consequence the themed Christmas Parties which were to be hosted by Gary Glamour - a professional act of parody of the Gary Glitter stage show - will be replaced by the equally popular and entertaining show Elvis - A tribute. In the circumstances we trust that you will endorse the decision we have felt no option to take on the grounds of taste and decency." - The Christmas Company.
My new website is up and running. Mostly b&w photos, incl. MARK E. SMITH, jamc, PiL, more. Click on the radio image as well -- features an excerpt of an interview I did with John Peel a few years ago. Comments appreciated.
Subject: <fallnet> Shirehorses interview fluff
from the Coventry Citizen, 17th Dec 1999, by Richard Elms:
Surprisingly, the Shirehorses are musically very good. Yes, Radcliffe and Riley can actually play and prior to his DJ career Lard (a moniker earned by his expanding beer gut) was bassist with cult Manchester bands The Fall and The Creepers. It's a past he would rather forget.
Lard: So I played with a few comedy bands. I was very young.
Mark: The Fall's Mark E. Smith is basically an indie Russ Abbot.
991210 token Planet K review, Glow Boys
991125 not much
991114 not much
991101 few Glow Boys bits
991026 Dingwalls reviews, Flux interview
991014 not much
990930 more Dutch tour reviews, TBLY#17 details (tapes, t-shirt)
990920 most of the Dutch tour reviews, MES interview
990912 Reading, Leeds reviews
990830 Manchester, Edinburgh reviews
990820 nothing special
990807 few old reviews, F-'oldin' Money cover
990726 Glow Boys reviews
990720 Dutch, Belgium tour dates
990711 TBLY #16 details
990704 bits & pieces
990624 Meltdown reviews, Calvin Klein rubbish
990613 not much
990606 NME Forum review
990526 Wire interview, more reviews...
990517 Salisbury, Sheffield, Cheltenham, Cambridge, Southend, Luton, London reviews
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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