The Fall / Islington Assembly Hall
Stuart Gadd headed out to see these Mancunian legends in the flesh
Genius can't thrive on mediocrity - the Fall's Mark E Smith clearly believes this more than a modicum. He's the Brian Clough of indie - if it's over for you in The Fall, no matter who you are, then he will sack you. Over his 35 year career a constantly revolving door of fine players, including Marc Riley and Smith's ex wife Brix, have come and gone, Brix admittedly being asked back by Smith after their marriage was over. Never mix work and relationships eh?
With a fine Fall line up tonight you can only hope that the conspicuous number of youngsters in this sold out crowd are paying attention to what makes good Fall line up's., namely, taking the most rudimentary elements of rock and roll, then making them stranger still.
And the paradox of The Fall - those many line up's - is that they always seem slightly new. With their opening song, apparently called 'Irish' and which sounds a future classic, a possibly familiar spag western element is transposed somewhere Shane Meadows esque via death-grip rattling bassist Dave Spurr's industrial sound, a blitzkrieg that's 4/4 beat transfigured into the menacing and riddling.
Then Smith's on during the song, later fiddling with his lieutenant's amps, once turning off guitarist Pete Greenway completely ( to his credit the player remains stone faced, whilst Mark is the gimlet eyed dijn ). And at one point Smith's behind the amps, doing his barking demagogue vocal, reading / slurring off sheafs of paper while 'Bury Part 2 and 4' unleashes Bo Diddley doing 'Hound Dog' chords and mixed age moshpit mayhem as Smith's wife Elena Poulou emits B-movie death rays from her keyboard.
Smith looks in much better health than at the Fall's gig at Koko last year. The signs for the future then look good, the rattling good garage oldie ' Mr Pharmacist' showcasing a surprisingly chipper Mark, who later throws his microphone into the audience for an encore of 'Psychick Dancehall'.
In a venue normally more suited for wedding reception punch up's, a still weird ceremony unfolded which involved both the old faithful and those new to the group. If The Fall are now an institution, they're still reassuringly a mental one.