The Fall, Hammersmith Palais, London, April 2007
The venue immortalised in The Clash song ‘(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais’ very last gig. Although (I think) Damon Albarn’s band The Good, The Bad & The Queen got the press for playing the last gig there, it was in fact Mark E. Smith’s The Fall that actually had that honour on April 1 2007, and the show was released as the live album Last Night At The Palais. I’d been there once before to see Fat Freddy’s Drop in 2005, and it was quite a different space for London - not an old, multi-tiered theatre, but more a single wide dance floor across the width of the stage with a few mezzanine levels around the back and side. It could get crowded and hard to get around in, but still provided a great view from the back. Have to say, I think this was the best gig of The Fall I saw in London - they were stripped and tight (best bass & drum combo for ages), and Smith himself was in cheeky excellent form, and the two recent albums Fall Heads Roll and Reformation Post TLC provided some of their best tracks for years. A mate, Jav, also came with me because he lived just down the road, and he was curious about this band I always talked about. He was the man who expanded my mind with a load of techno and electronic music, so I was convinced he would love the kraut rock, repetitive rhythms at the heart of any good Fall line-up. I was right. Show started with ‘Senior Twilight Stock Replacer’ (which is a job I used to do once, so that was nice), and leapt immediately into a stinking version of ‘Pacifying Joint’. Also hurled in were a couple of obligatory older songs: the 90s ‘Wrong Place, Right Time’, and the Big Bopper cover ‘White Lightning’. For me the track I was dying to hear live finally, and that was played magnificently, was ‘Blindness’. Driving, rolling, droning, ranting, ten minutes plus… excellent! After that song, the band & Smith left the stage, I am not sure if an encore was teh plan, but there was a bit of a lull, and some aging punk geezer (who probably now reads The Daily Mail and invests in Spanish time shares) scrambled up on stage, grabbed the mic and proceeded to deliver a tirade at the band for not respecting the crowd or indeed, the venue’s final night. The Fall’s response was to play a furious version of ‘Reformation’, which is mostly instrumental, until MES emerged 2/3 of the way through to bark his vocals. Love a bit of tension. Then he laughed and made some dig at the stage bouncers - “Thank you for allowing us… in your… security area”. Goodnight. Goodbye Hammersmith Palais. ‘Blindness’ live. Awesome.