written by Chris Familton
Over 34 years The Fall has experienced countless members, 28 studio albums and a unswerving commitment to caustic repetition and poetic wordplay. Of course the only constant through the whole adventure has been Mark E. Smith who has carved out his own reputation as a stubborn, hilarious, belligerent and intentional aggravator both musically and by personality – but without him The Fall would not be The Fall.
Dave Graney was up first to serenade the masses with his lounge jazz and crooning blues. His current line-up is two guitars and bass and as a trio they worked seamlessly together with Graney playing rhythm and his guitarist providing the solos and colour to the songs. New songs like My Schtick Weighs A Ton, All Our Friends Are Stars and Are We Goin’ Too Fast For Love all typified Graney’s devilish way with words and showed a nice dark musical tone.
Prior to the arrival onstage of The Fall we were treated/subjected to a series of video mashups with the unique angle being that each of them mainly used a single video and looped, cut and dissected the sound and vision to create a jittery, twitching – and during the Elvis Presley one – a hilarious new version. Though at times impressive, the novelty factor quickly wore thin and the crowd began ‘encouraging’ him to leave the stage.
As The Fall appeared it felt like the walls of the Metro Theatre were sweating, such was the oppressive and nearly unbearable heat in the room. Either they forgot to turn the aircon on or it wasn’t working. Either way it made the next 90 minutes a physical endurance test. If anything the conditions did suit the sound and attack of The Fall though. Theirs is a relentless excursion into repetitive post-punk nihilism that occasionally surfaced for air with blasts of garage rock. In particular their cover of The Sonics’ Strychnine hinted at one particular area of influence on their sound.
Mark E. Smith was the undeniable focus of attention as he shuffled and swayed around the stage, hijacking his musicians amps and instruments when either something didn’t sound right to him or merely as a source of personal enjoyment and mischievousness. The band, after 3 years together, are clearly used to his antics and their stoney-faced determination to keep playing, regardless of Smith’s self-amusement was as entertaining as their ringleader himself. As he wandered the stage he used whichever mic took his fancy and it almost seemed like he’d never seen one before, such was the look of disdain and irritability that he gave them.
The Fall weren’t here to play a greatest hits set and anyone expecting that clearly doesn’t understand the bands modus operandi. The new album Our Future, Your Clutter featured heavily with the set opener O.F.Y.C. Showcase, the majestic Bury Pt 3, Cowboy George and the Jesus Lizard sounding Chino to name a few. There was no Repetition, Totally Wired, Telephone Thing or Hit The North but they did dig back into the back catalog with their cover of the garage rock classic Mr Pharmacist from their 1986 Sinister album.
You sense that The Fall are essentially the same as they were 30 years ago with Smith’s totally unique delivery and take on the English language. He knows how to surround himself with musicians that are there to serve his art and to that end they created a garage rock, post punk and krautrock canvas of the highest quality for his Pollack-esque rants and raps. John Peel summed the band up peferctly… “They are always different, they are always the same.” Long live The Fall!
this reveiw first appeared on FasterLouder