The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Patrick Smith , July 3rd, 2014 13:09

Patrick Smith heads down to Under The Bridge in London to bathe in the glory of The Fall, imperfections and all. Photo by Nathan Wind

"This song means something / Every song means something"
The Fall - 'Bury'

Contemporary reviews of live Fall shows tend to return to the same qualitative benchmark when assessing overall quality; was Mark E. Smith "on form," did he "have it" (whatever "it" is) and was he "engaged." Such a reductively singular form of appraisal and assessment does the most recent incarnation of The Fall – Melling, Garratt, Poulou, Greenway, Spurr – a huge injustice. Certainly Smith is the only constant within The Fall; however, tonight at Under the Bridge, this fearsome version of the band provides a fantastically sinewy stability to counterpoint Smith's deconstructive lyrical delivery.

'Amorator' begins proceedings tonight, with Melling and Garratt providing relentlessly pummelling dual drumming syncopation. Smith enters from stage right – in classically delayed fashion – staring/glaring through all in attendance. Slipping into 'Hot Cake', Smith purrs the lyrics, interlocking quite beautifully with Poulou's wandering synth. Rhythms cresting, the crawling bass line and drums waver on the edge of arrhythmia. It takes a little over eight minutes to confirm that "The Fall 2014" is a rejuvenated Can-esque behemoth.

The next two songs provide a nice juxtaposition of The Fall new and old. 'Jetplane' is most certainly the closest we'll get to a duet-cum-love song from Poulou and Smith; vocal duties shared, the lyrics speak in fantastically absurd fashion of intercontinental romancing. 'Sir William Way' feels distinctly like a number culled from the Perverted By Language-era of The Fall: anti-music and anti-lyrics, we find Smith at his most Joycean. The version of 'Mr. Pharmacist' that follows is a delightful shambles; as the drums dip in and out of sync you're reminded that occasional transcendent imperfections are really what make The Fall – and perhaps all such percussive/rhythm-reliant music – so enjoyable. New track 'Two-O-One-Four' is a number that's soaked in Suzuki. Something of Fushitsusha's Allergorical Misunderstanding also sneaks in at the start, before giving way to Greenway's ceaselessly circular guitar riffs.

Some classically drawled spoken word work from Smith introduces the next tracks 'Bury' and 'Remainderer', both providing waves and waves of euphoric interplay between this geed-up incarnation of The Fall. It surely can't escape anyone in attendance tonight that the band is bathing in a new-found sense of musical pleasure. 'Mister Rode' finds an initial cacophony of sound being slowly parsed apart by Spurr and Greenway, whilst 'Reformation' climaxes with Greenway's guitar sounding like a circular saw, splitting open the rest of the band as Smith begins to attack amps and drums. Smith wrenches the words to 'Wolf Kidult Man' from his mouth, before dipping into a second rendition (much better than the first) of 'Mr Pharmacist'. The Fall are back. That's a sentence that has been rolled out many times over recent years; however, this behemoth seem to believe it themselves tonight.

"Every day of your life/You persevere, boy"
The Fall – 'Wolf Kidult Man'