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Manchester Ritz

The Fall


Review by John Harris

Five Hundred yards from the In The City HQ, there’s not a pony tail or Armani suit in sight. This is The Fall’s so-called anti-seminar organised months before anyone appreciated how big Tony Wilson’s baby would be, but seized as a neat opportunity for Mark E’s men to re-affirm their status as Manchester’s musical aristocrats, wilfully detached from the vulgar circus going on down the road. He wouldn’t have it any other way. Always a completely self-contained talent (remember his protests that The Fall were proud residents of nearby Salford rather than a Manc band?), Smith has succeeded in becoming indie-rock’s Neil Young, utterly separate from the vagaries of musical fashion, but a crucial presence who’s consistently leagues ahead of his more in vogue competitors.

After all, The Fall do everything with bags more panache than the rest of the pack, as tonight’s highlights attest. They use sequencers, juddering dance rhythms and slabs of guitar noise to come up with something as stunning as ‘Free Range’, which towers over anything created by the likes of EMF. They deliver a suitably venomous reading of the Manchester skit ‘Idiot Joy Showland’, summing up the Mancunian condition far more eloquently than any of the baggy bunch ever did. And they inject everything from the broody menace that long hair oiks with loud guitars will ever come near to.

For The Fall’s first local performance in a while, tonight, is surprisingly low key, a fact made more surprising by the us against the seminar hype that should have made the audience’s mood a little more celebratory. The lukewarm vibes are also attributable to the fact that The Fall play very few oldies, only reaching into the far flung past for ‘Big New Prinz’ and US 80’s-90’s’. the faithful bawl for ‘Hit The North’, ‘Dead Beat Descendent’ and ‘Living Too Late’, but Mark simply scowls, pulls on his tab and carries on being a contrary git. And they quietly love him for it.

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