The Liquid Room, Edinburgh
When dancer Michael Clarke began throwing shapes to The Fall’s garage guitar growl, it wasn’t, as he has made plain since, an attempt to co-opt a sliver of post-punk cool. It was simply because of the band’s relentless, repetitive rhythm. However unlikely Fall fuehrer Mark E Smith’s liaison with German techno-head duo Mouse On Mars for their Tromatic Reflexxions album may seem, then, the pairing is more logical than you might think.
Live, the trio’s wonderful incongruities are heightened. Manning a console at the back of the stage, Mouse On Mars’ Jan St Werner and Andi Toma, two sexy German boys at the peak of the game, are already cooking up enough of a bass-heavy electronic storm by the time Smith slopes on looking like he’s walking in slow motion.
As they bounce through the bulk of the album, the effect is somewhere between a club-land PA and a wedding karaoke. Where Smith’s usual band are slaves to Smith’s penchant for messing up the sound, St Werner and Toma can absorb such knob-twiddling into their sound with ease. And if Smith won’t sing, well, hell, they’ll just play a sample from earlier in the set.
Most of Smith’s time onstage is spent with his back to the audience as he reads from a sheaf of lyric sheets, oblivious to his wife and Fall keyboardist Elenor gleefully camcording proceedings from the balcony above. For the bulk of the set, though, Smith stands at the side of the stage, on the stairs, or however far his lead will stretch. Which, given that in Mouse On Mars he looks to have finally met his match, isn’t far at all for an experience both breath-taking and hilarious.
The Herald, September 26th 2007