The Fall/Milophobia, The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, October 14
A mere 21 years after I first saw them on ITV's long-forgotten The Roxy performing Hit The North (Part 1), I finally got to see The Fall. Would they match my expectations? Would Mark E. Smith be on good form? Would they play Sparta FC?
I would have to wait. Support came from Milophobia, who are due to release their debut EP at the end of this year. Their six song strong set was excellent from start to finish. I heard echoes of The Fall, perhaps a little more of prime US alternative rock, and saw a front man with start written all over him. Watch this space.
John Cooper Clarke had been ill and missed Friday evening's gig in Aberdeen, so there was a risk that we wouldn't get him...and alas, we didn't. Maybe another time. In the unlikely event that you're reading this John, get well soon.
Sandwiched down the front of the gig for an hour, would it be worth it? It was certainly a diverse crowd. Anyone expecting it to be just middle-aged blokes in their anoraks...wrong. Men and women, punks, folks drinking wine who looked like they'd come from Morningside, Edinburgh's posh district, some kids who looked like they were barely out of primary school...The Fall have a diverse crowd following them.
In a word, yes. From the minute the band walked on until they walked off, they captivated, utterly. Mark E. Smith walked on, and I think in a good mood. The devotion he inspires has not faded one iota.
The set was made up of a mixture of old and new, including 'Wings' from 1983 but also more recent numbers from this year's Imperial Wax Solvent, like Latch Key Kid' and 'Wolf Kidult Man'. And after a while, so blown away was I by the performance of the band and yer man, Mark, that I stopped trying to worry about remembering the song titles and just lost myself in the music.
Partly because Mr. Smith was so close to me that I could see the whites of his eyes. I was that close to the stage. Not trying to hug him, like some other folks, but close enough to touch him. Not that I would dare. He may be smaller than me, but I wouldn't touch him. He'd be my dream artist to sign, to interview. If it wasn;t for the fact that I'd be so in awe I'd probably balls it up.
With a back catalogue stretching back thirty years, almost that in studio albums and certainly double that in compilations and live albums, there's no shortage of quality tunes to play, and it never dips. The recent albums have been excellent, and if I wasn't really into ...Missing Winner, there's a reminder of a reminder of how good as 'Reformation' and 'Sparta FC' show that they are just as good as stuff from the Step Forward, Rough Trade and Kamera eras. They go off after 'Sparta' and come on and do 'Carrier Bag Man' from 1988's The Frenz Experiment. It's at this point I really understand why there are so many Fall live albums; they are that good live that it's justified.
I'm reeling as I drive home. When my wife tells me that there's bugs in the flat, I just get on and sort them. It's fair to say that The Fall have knocked me for six. I have been to well over a hundred gigs in the last seven years since coming to Scotland, and this is the best of them all.
The Fall -'Wings.' mp3
The Fall -'Sparta F.C.' mp3