The Fall - Moho Live [3/6/11]
The usual broken-refrigerator hum of a Fall gig bites the crowd into action, as one young, followed by one terrible support act leave the platform in front of an empty stage. Threatening and stiffened, clusters of unappreciative lager lumps move forward to claim their positions on the dance/jump floor and the few younger participants show their bravery by moving to positions corresponding to how many fingers were willing to be lost... or so the myth goes. This is the ten millionth Fall gig and it seems as if the crowd have been at the bar for most of that duration, like off-milk, the crowd are lumpy, green and thick-skinned. Deafening reverb floods the speakers as ears are mugged then deafened, ready for the oncoming Fall.
Mark E Smith slumps on as if hooked up to an invisible hospital drip, a typical entrance, slow-mo-ing casually, choosing which segment of crowd is most deserving to share his self-administered dose - an attitude akin to a faithless priest, nipping into his local after falling asleep during confession. The Fall are already half-way through their first song by the time Mr. Smith grips the mic and growls for a re-loop, beginning with a wet rasp of his sharp tongue, the band instinctly clatter into the crowd.
They are The Fall "NORTHERN WHITE CRAP THAT TALKS BACK!" A post-punk band that are past everything, Mark E Smith, post-apocalyptic along with the cockroaches; sagging with aged and defensive frown marks, his dry lips smudged above spikes of undercut facial hair, barking and gargling, sage and dismissive "Brrrrrrrrr-aaaaooo-OOOhh". Drug-induced hand gestures animate a stage of tangled wires, whilst obedient members react and superbly execute songs from the be-numbed and hectic masterpiece "Your Future, Our Clutter (2010)". YFOC undeniably the best Fall album of the last 20 years.
Elena Poulou, a literal supportive wife, stolidly preserves herself at the keyboard, icy in physicality as if stored in MES's fridge between sets, a chilling beauty, chanting and supportive. Almost above it all, well at least the sycophants in the front-row... dripping sweat, alcoholic aroma, lagered denim: a Snow White in front of seven hundred dwarves. The bassist, drummer and guitarist (not gonna pretend to know their names, if you're interested check it for yaself) are incredible; blistering, fierce, passionate and loyal, responsive to each whim of their tempered leader, ending their power filled rhythms whenever MES signalled at a song's sell-by date with a dramatic cut-throat gesture. This crowd of bone chewing werewolves transform to the sound of his trademark throaty rattle, from casual bald-headed males to creeping non-casuals lingering over the barrier to squalidly tug on any bit of MES's genius (more of the physical than proverbial stuff).
A short 30 minute set of joyous highlights included the anthemic 'Bury Pts 1 & 3', the new and ever-evolving 'Greenway' still shifting form throughout each personification of its head bobbing veracity and Dragnet's claustrophobic 'Muzorewi's Daughter' (1979) with MES adopting an even more grotesque cruelty of delivery - growling and yelping in juxtaposition with lopsided blasts of purposefully rough guitar noise. An encore of the teary and swellingly sonic 'Weather Report 2' had Smith either too choked up or too uncomfortable to re-appear buzz-sawing words of retirement to his hometown. A typical Fall gig, beautiful, underappreciated, not enough, yet more than we'll ever deserve.