LIVE REVIEW: The Fall, Salford Music Festival

By Ian Ferge

On a really warm September Saturday we came across a street mime artist which prompted the question “Daddy why is that clown sad?” To which I replied, “he’s not sad, he’s acting”,which led to the inevitable, “why?”. People not accustomed to Manc screwball rock and roll act The Fall tend to ask a similar type of question.

The Fall played three gigs at this year’s Salford Music Festival; two at the Lowry, which sold out quickly, and this one at Lower Kersal Social Club.
This had got all the promise of being the perfect gig: The Fall aren’t on until after 11pm, there’s ample free parking right next to the front door, and the venue is intimate but half full, so it feels spacious, and there’s no queue at the bar.

What can you say about The Fall which hasn’t already been said? Not a lot, but how about this one– The Fall make The Grateful Dead’s long strange trip look like a stroll in the park I am keen on The Fall, not a totally mentalist obsessive, but I do like them. I like my heroes to be older than me, which obviously gets more difficult as time goes on. And throughout my life, The Fall have always been there; recording, gigging and releasing records. They’re like a shortcut back to Peel and my teenage years.

At this gig there seems to be a couple of new songs, with seemingly nobody too sure exactly what they are. Maybe they’re just old ones reconfigured. It is The Fall. That’s what I like, something new; some surprises thrown in– an always-working band. The band; guitar, bass, and drums – probably Pete, Dave and Kieron are excellent and tight; providing a brilliant rhythmic pulse for the Mr and Mrs Smith combo. Elena looks great and provides backing vocals, keyboard depth, and even a great handbag, which is something M.E Smith could never bring along.

Mark E comes onto the stage last and looks a tragic, drunken figure, yet manages to keep it together for the gig and deliver a stunning performance of sorts. And I wonder is this an act? Initially he fiddles with sheets of paper, as if reading his lyrics; but he does this at every gig. Throughout the gig he fiddles with mics, leads and stands, but again he, if reports are to be true, does this at every gig. There are about four songs as encores which he sings from out of sight, off stage;  a fairly normal thing to do now. So whilst I hate to see my heroes disintegrate, who can touch him as a one-off performer?

They play among others Refurbish, Wolf Kidult Man, Container Drivers, and Bury. On the subject I once walked from Huddersfield to Bury; twenty-seven miles, it nearly crippled me. During the encore they played Sparta FC, and finish with Mr. Pharmacist. Another top gig from The Fall. Thanks for keeping it going. I’m Not From Bury, the Fall, Lower Kersal Social Club, 22.09.12

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