I turn up early at Balne Lane Working Mens Club in anticipation of grabbing an interview with The Fall frontman and end up catching the band sound checking. It’s a fair old racket they are producing, but there is one key element missing. Mr Mark E Smith is nowhere to be seen. I’m told by the tour manager he’s ‘wandered off’ and he’ll try find him. 10 minutes later a familiar face pops out from side stage and the band instantly halt their noise, like a piano player in a western when the new sheriff in town walks in the saloon. He looks around and pauses for thought. ‘Turn mikes up’ he says. The band members then quickly test each microphone. He’s happy and leaves them to it.
Later that evening, Balne Lane is full, with bodies and anticipation. Which Mark E Smith would we get tonight? Would it be 30 minutes of angry grumbling before a swift disappearance? Well, after 5 minutes of them hitting the stage I realised that any chance of me giving this the ‘normal’ review treatment had completely flown out of the window. There’s plenty I could talk about. Mark singing with two or threee mics at once throughout, throwing them aside when he’s bored. Turning up the guitarists amp (at the right points too, in my opinion), stealing a mic from keyboardist and wife Elana in the middle of her chorus, holding some handwritten lyrics for the guitarist to sing to, the most diverse moshpit I’ve ever seen with young girls and old hippies bouncing around, and just the pure heaviness of it all, the almost non stop, incessant drum and bass driven sound that is still bouncing round my head now, almost a week later. And then the encores; the first with Mark sat in the small room at the side of the stage, completely out of view. Then the second, where he rejoined, and shouted out - I’m sure I didn’t imagine this – ‘I Love you all’. Wow.
It was chaotic and incomparable to anything else I’d seen. And impossible to recount in words really. Its one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments. And if you weren’t, why not? The whole thing about them being so many years old, and so many albums old, and onto their 50th member or whatever – it all seems nonsense, because I saw the passion of a band doing their first ever tour, a brand new band full of confidence and focus.
And we did get that exclusive interview. It’ll be in Rhubarb Bomb Issue 1.3
Words: Dean Freeman / Photos: Joel Rowbottom
p.s. A MASSIVE amount of respect is due to Mr Christopher Morse, who managed to book The Fall to play Wakefield in the first place. Good work. He’s promoting nights at The Hop in Wakefield now, so keep an eye on what he’s got coming up.