The Fall, Islington Academy, London, November 2005
“Good evening, we are The Fall”. Well, I was there. Mark E. Smith was there. And once again, the band line up was completely different. I had been exiled in the colonies since 1999 and unable to revel in Smith’s gabby Northern garage rock for six years. It was great timing to hop back on this horse; at the time the two most recent albums, Country On The Click (The Real New Fall LP) and Fall Heads Roll were both very good records indeed, so much so I dragged along a chum, Jay, to see The Fall for the first time because I was sure he’d like the selection available. What I had forgotten about was the punters themselves. Fall fans are basically pint swilling fan-boys. Big-bellied lads who go to EVERY show, up and down the country. They know the band, post reviews & photos on forums, steal set lists, rant, rave and abuse each other like you wouldn’t believe… and they are all middle-aged. Present company and all that. I think it is probably about as far from a hipster scene as you can get. They’d eat a hipster after the show. With brown sauce and chips. I think Jay was more mystified by these strange creatures and their passive worship of MES, more than MES himself. It was a fairly subdued crowd though, not a lot of banter or yelling. Not a favourite venue of mine - no soul, bit of a shit club. Band were tight though, belting out Fall Heads Roll’s best: ‘Pacifying Joint’, ‘I Can Hear the Grass Grow’, ‘What About Us’, ‘Assume’ and ‘Aspen’. Stoked to hear ‘Theme from Sparta F.C.’ live (then the theme music for BBC's Football Scores. Still is?). And for 80s throwbacks, they dug up the great cover ‘Mr Pharmacist’, which I think gets better vocally with age. Once gain, Smith bobbed around the looking like he’d just come in off the street, dressed anti-fashion, licking his dentures and cackling occasionally at his own jokes. But he’s still got it in performance mode, and he was again strolling round fiddling with all the guitar amp knobs, and dinking away cheekily on his wife, Elena’s, keyboard. Bless him. Today’s offering from the show, ‘Clasp Hands’ from Fall Heads Roll - a wee slice of the older style, honky-tonk, rockbilly Fall.