The Fall: Still Rising, Nottingham Rock City

What do you get if you get Tony Wilsonesque Mancunian pretention mixed with punk? Mark E Smith and the Fall – a band I’ve been meaning to see for the last 20 years but never quite got round to it. But the wait was worth it last night at the Rock City as the Fall’s latest line up tore through an hour long set like they’d been together since the mid-70s. The reality is, if you play an instrument and you hang around long enough in Manchester, you’ll probably end up in the Fall at the some point. That’s not to say standards have slipped – in fact on the evidence of last night – the absolute opposite. Peter Greenway is their latest guitarist and with the combination of Smith and his wife Elena on keyboards, as they release their latest album ‘Your Future, Our Clutter’ the band still showed they have much to offer.
While Elena states she doesn’t recognise the term ‘punk’ that’s what comes to mind– the way the band thrashed them out and had the crowd in the palm of their hand is pretty reminiscent of punk. Smith’s inability to convey any of his lyrics in a decipherable way was also pretty close to punk, as is his constant wanton subversion of the music to keep it ‘real’. He wanders around turning off the guitar or the bass at the amp, or basically plants his hand down on the keyboards at random, uses two mikes to increase the feedback and generally does his own thing and doesn’t care. The fact that he looks like a tired old granddad who should know better makes a Fall gig a great place to be. Smith’s total interaction with the crowd was when he handed the mike to a fan to sing one of the songs and when he took pity on some of the fans at the front and handed them bottles of water. That was it. He didn’t acknowledge anyone really other than when he abruptly called the gig to a close by popping on his leather jacket and tapping the bass guitarist on the shoulder as if he’d had the last pint and now it was time to go home. The band promptly downed tools and walked off. Fantastic.

On top of this, there was one of the best atmosphere’s at a gig I’ve ever experienced – people really seemed to get it, enjoy it and have a good time and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. You can catch them for the rest of the month and you will walk out and be asking yourself two things a) why has the keyboard player married Smith? And b) the Fall are fabulous.

Throughout May, the Fall are playing:
London O2 Shepherds Bush Empire (7); Aldershot Palace (8); Brighton Concorde 2 (9); ATP Minehead (16) and Wakefield Balne Lane Working Mens Club (21)

By Stu on May 5, 2010

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