The Fall

COSMO GODFREE falls arse-over-tits for a deranged 54 year old and his cronies.

british music cosmo godfree frank skinner john peel post-punk Punk rock the fall The Junction

Tuesday 15th November, The Junction, £18

[rating: 4/5]

“Always different, always the same.” That’s what the late, great, John Peel had to say on the matter of his favourite band, and indeed The Fall hold the honour of having recorded the most ever sessions for his legendary radio show.

Cited as an influence by bands ranging from Franz Ferdinand to LCD Soundsystem, this is a group with a number of fairly unique points about them.

Their discography is particularly unwieldy – Ersatz GB, released this week, is their 29th(!) studio album since forming in 1976. Lazy fuckers like Klaxons would do well to take note. Lead singer Mark E Smith has been the band’s only constant member, and operates a temperamental ?revolving door? policy of musicians to complement his singular vision.


The Fall – Reformation

Tuesday’s gig highlighted some of the potential sticking points with the band. Mark’s vocals, for instance, are pretty much incomprehensible. Even when you can get past his barks and growls, the lyrics are incredibly abstract. I mean, I know a bunch of Fall songs, but I’m almost never sure what the hell he’s on about. With lyric sheet in hand, you can fully appreciate his witty, caustic and downright surreal rants, but understandably it doesn’t really work too well in a live setting. However, this is just a minor problem, made up for by Mark’s bizarre onstage presence and a great set list.

The band take the chance to showcase most of the new album, which pays off, as it contains some of the hardest rockers they’ve penned for years. Mask Search takes us into a dirty rockabilly groove and even finds the time to lash out at Snow Patrol. White Lightning is a bit of a fail, as Mark hands the mic into the crowd only to find that the guy is incapable of overcoming his nerves or coming in at the right moment. Fierce renditions of Greenway and Latch Key Kid more than compensate.


The Fall – Theme From Sparta FC

I was a bit wary before it all started, having heard tales of Mark’s grumpy/bored/pissed approach to playing shows, but tonight he seemed to be enjoying himself as much as the crowd were. From distracting the guitarist to knocking over his own mic stand, fiddling with the bassist’s amp to playing impromptu keyboard solos, he stumbled mischievously around the stage. Nobody’s equipment was safe from his wandering hands.

Finishing on the fantastic Theme From Sparta FC was a smart move – it has the benefit of both being instantly recognisable (somewhat of a rarity among latter-day Fall tracks) and boasting a killer riff. The general impression afterwards seems to be that we caught Mark in a particularly good mood, which just left me wondering what he’s like at his most shambolic. To be honest, probably best that I didn?t find out.