Tuesday 19th Apr
O2 Ritz, Manchester
If you were to quiz the average person in the street on their knowledge of influential bands to come from Manchester, the chances are that you would get answers including the likes of The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Oasis. The Fall do not often figure at the top of everyone’s memory.
Now 31 albums into a career that began in 1976, the band headed back to their home city to headline The Ritz. Mark E Smith has been the only constant member since their original debut was released; staggeringly the band have gone through 66 members in that time – quite a turnover. Supported by local band Cabbage, who brought their own brand of post-punk to the table, it was almost like watching the grainy footage of The Fall from 30 years previously.
The current line up is the most consistent it has been during the history of the band. The new additions have made for a live show which is both modern whilst still playing homage to the sounds of yesteryear. Missing on the night was regular keyboardist and and vocalist Elena Poulou who was nowhere to be seen, Smith occasionally stumbled over to the keys and filled in.
(Mark E Smith - Photo: Melanie Smith)
Playing with a set that comprised mainly of new offerings, the opening tune was the outstanding Venice With The Girls, which mixes a lot of the bands early influences nicely with many of the more contemporary sounds.
Mark E Smith has lost none of the stage presence which made him an icon of the punk scene in the 70's. He wandered round the stage turning up amps and scrambling through his pages of lyrics much to the delight of a much wiser crowd than would normally be seen at The Ritz. Also giving airings were favourites such as Wise Old Man and First One Today, both equally well received.
Having never seen The Fall in the past, it was unclear of what to expect. Previous conceptions ranged from reading reviews where the band had been slated, to being informed by those who have seen them when on form describing the experience as being one of the best gigs they'd ever been to – my judgement was a bit more reserved. The band have changed styles numerous times, but the passion of Smith is still evident and makes for strong show. The Fall seem to be getting better with age and show no time of stopping anytime soon.
Catch them while you still can.
(The Fall at O2 Ritz Manchester - Photo: Melanie Smith)