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The Fall

Queens Hall, Edinburgh
4 stars
Fall fuehrer Mark E Smith and Salford bard John Cooper-Clarke have intermittently shared bills for the best, and sometimes worst, part of thirty years. Tonight, alas, Cooper-Clarke’s scheduled support slot on The Fall’s highest profile Edinburgh date for years is cancelled after the poet is declared AWOL following a domestic spat with his wife. Such are the life meets art domestic travails surrounding the national treasures that The Fall have become. Expectations are rocked even more by whispers of a truncated twenty-five minute set in Aberdeen two nights before due to a flu-ridden Smith bailing out early.

Any fears of a repeat performance are dispelled by the band’s prevailingly muddy workaday chug punctuated by Elenor Poulou’s increasingly World In Action theme tune style keyboard lines. Smith eventually enters imperious as ever for an oddly playful hour, in which his professional grump’s mask slips enough to reveal him clearly relishing the adoration lavished on him. On Fifty Year-Old Man he ushers reluctant guitarist Pete Greenway to the microphone to pick up any vocal slack. During Pacifying Joint, mischief gets the better of Smith as he passes a microphone to the front row, some of whom eventually spill onstage for a hero-worshipping cuddle.

On Reformation, Sparta FC and a thrilling Blindness, it’s plain that The Fall understood the base transcendent power of repetition long before the dance music revolution. And when Smith leans on the keyboard to make a typically tuneless din, Poulou steps back with the indulgence of a long-suffering wife resigned to her hubby’s botched DIY jobs. The two share a moment that’s the rarest of sights at a Fall gig; the look of love.

The Herald, October 14th 2008

ends

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