The Fall - The Garage

Tonight’s show had Mark E Smith and co. concluding their four night, sold out residency at the 400 capacity The Garage to (for the most part) an adoring crowd. The Fall (to paraphrase #1 fan John Peel) are a group that have always been the same but have always different, and tonight was no exception.

With a rotating line up of support acts across their four nights, support arrived in the form of Manchester trio Shoshin. To judge by appearances would be a mistake as the drums kick in on their opening salvo, prompting a “Jesus Christ, I didn’t expect that!” from an aging hipster, blending together post-punk/80s New Wave Rock with Rage Against The Machine and System of A Down. Star of the outfit goes to drummer Sophie Labrey, one of the sharpest and most enthusiastic drummers seen in a long while, and the group succeeded in winning over the Fall-centric crowd.

For the main event, The Fall filter onto the stage to a rapturous reception. The band, the longest serving line up in The Fall’s 66 plus members history, is also one of the tightest that Smith has worked with. Smith’s third, and current, wife Elena Polou arrives as a breath of fresh chirpy air to the stage by the time the band roll into ‘Dedication Not Medication’. Leaving her coat and bag by the stage, as if forgetting that there was another night to play, but still seems to be the happiest person in the venue. The stage and the room, as always, truly belong to Mark E Smith. Prowling the stage, part incoherent drunken club singer and part lion in a zoo enclosure, with distorted vocals thanks to his two microphone approach. All the time managing to exude immense stage presence with minimal interaction with anyone at all. Lost in his own world skulking at the rear of the stage, or throwing piercing glares into the crowd, he knows he has the audience in the palm of his hand. “Why do I keep doing this to myself?” a fellow gig goer states, “It’s the fucking Fall” is his answer to himself. With a set list heavy from 2015’s Sub-Lingual Tablet, and February’s EP Wise ‘Ol Man, the atmosphere is positively tribal with thumping versions of ‘Dedication Not Medication’, ‘Wise Old Man’, ‘Facebook Troll’, before ending with the stomping encore ‘Psykick Dancehall’ from 1979’s Dragnet.

And with that, it’s finished. After a 45 minute blitzkrieg attack on the senses; Smith leaves the stage without a word, never pandering to expectations of delivering a greatest hits set that a band of The Fall’s length of service and catalogue could easily deliver. Instead a head swimming mix of repetition and menace is what we get; they were voted one of the ‘Top 50 Bands to see before you die’ and, with feedback ringing in my ears long into my tube journey home, it is something I can agree with.

1. My Door Is Never
2. Venice With The Girls
3. Tuff Life Boogie
4. Dedication Not Medication
5. First One Today
6. Wolf Kidult Man
7. Wise Old Man
8. Auto Chip 2014-2016
9. Cowboy George
10. Facebook Troll
11. Pledge
12. Psykick Dancehall

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Category Live Review

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