"Well, what can you say about MES? He surveys the crowd like a mistrusting headmaster. He stares out into the distance, looking for troublemakers. Where is Prosser junior? "
The Fall – Sheffield Boardwalk – 'Could do Better'
Just as John Peels famous comment about the Fall being 'always different, always the same' is invariably trotted out whenever the band is being discussed, so it could be said that every review of a Fall album is always different, always the same. Every one contains the line 'their best album since x.' Were I to review Heads Roll it would probably have some kind of similar comment attached to it, (my review did! – ed) though I haven't in truth been keeping up with all of the latest stuff. Who can though? When I started writing this review, for instance, there were approximately 85 Fall albums out
there. By the time I've finished it the number could be well into three figures. I mean, someone is now releasing individual concerts on CD too. You can buy Preston 1979, or Oldham 1980, or something like that. If this is just the beginning of a plan to release all
of The Fall's concerts then it will make the genome project look as impressive a task as putting up a shelf on a Sunday afternoon.
Anyway, on with the show. Now then, Fall live shows are a little bit more random than their album reviews. What were we going to get in Sheffield? A white bed sheet obscured the stage. Projected onto it was Freddie Mercury, caught in an endless loop of about one second in duration. He's singing, but the way the loop works means that he looks in real pain. A drum machine spews out machine gun noises and the effect works well. But then we get Elvis, Michael Jackson and Barbara Streisand. It goes on too long. After perhaps
half an hour of this the band finally takes the stage. They're an impassive bunch. The playing from the get go is muscular and efficient. The band is tight. As for the singer...
Well, what can you say about MES? He surveys the crowd like a mistrusting headmaster. He stares out into the distance, looking for troublemakers. Where is Prosser junior? I'm sure he's making mischief somewhere, he could be thinking. I should perhaps clarify that
description – it is only MES' demeanour that has the air of the headmaster. There won't be too many of them in the country that actually look like him. MES comes on dressed in a white polo shirt and is quite frail in appearance, almost birdlike. But that doesn't work – I'm now picturing a sparrow in a working men's club, wearing a leather jacket and drinking a pint of bitter. Scratch that. What's MES up to then? Well, for a start he's damned if he's not having two microphones. At one point he gets a third. At another point he throws one across the stage. And all the time he's there, looking at us in the crowd, and without betraying his thoughts too clearly you know he's disapproving. He's thinking that we could do better.
There was a decent amount of jumping up and down, and there were big cheers for some songs (though it was a shame that I Can Hear The Grass Grow got the biggest one – I know that the album has only just come out but there are some great Fall tracks on it). But I know that MES wasn't happy with our performance. What about the band's though? Sometimes MES turned round just to check that no one was getting above themselves. Then one of the buggers did! He moved a mike stand so that he could sing into it! MES wasn't having that and so he nicked it for himself.
We were, of course, treated to the new album, along with a couple of old faves and it was a good show. But as for us – no, we weren't up to scratch, I'm afraid. The headmaster was disappointed with our performance. So much so, in fact, that he informed us that we were going to be called back to go through it all again tomorrow. For half price though, if we bought our tickets tonight. From what I could tell, there was no
shortage of people wanting to make amends for their lacklustre showing.
Words: Chris Dawson.