Written by Cal Cashin
A gig for which the frontman is mostly absent from the stage; unorthodox? Yes. But what else is to be expected with The Fall? The Manchester band blessed an army of admirers with a set as unique and classic as the Oxford Street venue itself.
On the eve of the release of their latest and thirty-second album, New Facts Emerge, legendary Mancunian post-punk band The Fall took for the first time in their history to the stage of The 100 Club, marrying one of the UK’s most iconic venues with one of its greatest, most unique, and most prolific artists.
Fronted by the eternal figure of Mark E. Smith, the band’s only constant member throughout their forty year history, the band are tonight supported by Goat Girl, a band of South Londoners whose raucous garage rock sound owes more than a little bit to The Fall’s pervading influence.
Goat Girl’s set sees frontwoman Clottie Cream’s razor sharp voice deliver surly lyrics atop a thunderous rhythm section and a choice selection of woozy, narcotic guitar riffs. A smorgasbord of noisy, sleazy and undisputedly catchy ditties.
Following Goat Girl’s sonic bombardment, the lights dim; Andrew Weatherall’s DJ set fades to silence; The Fall take to the stage. Mark E. Smith perches atop an amplifier before he barks “hello, we are The Fall!”
The Fall’s outlook on playing live is not one of a heritage act, despite releasing literally dozens of great albums. Instead it is the outlook of visionaries; almost all of their set is new material from the new record, with the bulk of the rest coming from 2015’s Sub Lingual Tablet.
The attitude which personifies this group is one that is often sought after in rock ‘n’ roll but much less often delivered; they genuinely don’t care what people think. For the bulk of the set, Smith bellowed out the lyrics to the new album’s songs whilst sprawled out on the stage, hidden away behind the amps on which he’d previously perched.
A storming version of 2015’s Dedication Not Medication saw him stagger onto his feet once more and deliver the lyrics venomously.
Whilst Smith delivered the rest of the set from the dressing room, the band themselves continued to plough on through the set, with a baffled crowd getting more enthused by the second whilst the band’s playing got more and more frenzied.
Despite the fact that a closing quartet of classic songs; Blindness, Fall Sound, Bury and Mr Pharmacist; couldn’t lull Mark E. Smith back to his post, it saw the group at their very best, welcoming a barrage of stage invaders and fans belting out every single lyric.