"All those whose mind entitles themselves and whose main entitle is themselves shall feel the wrath of my bombast".
Attending a gig by Brix Smith and other ex-members of The Fall playing Fall songs from the classic era certainly opens you up to the bombast of your more purist Fall fan. Playing a set of old songs somehow isn't part of The Fall ethos and it seems highly unlikely the cantankerous, and somewhat unlovely, Mark E Smith would approve of this venture. Even as it lightly tops up his coffers.
I had my doubts too but a quick glance at YouTube and the promise of a Friday night out with good company in the redoubtable Lexington convinced me it'd be worth going. So glad I did. I knew within the first few bars of US 80s/90s that I'd done the right thing. By the time the song was a minute old I'd already decided it was the best 'Fall' gig I'd been to in over a decade.
Brix, decked out in glittery boots and (hopefully fake) fur coat, is undoubtedly the band leader but the presence of Paul Hanley on drums and, specifically, his brother Steve provide a vital backbone. That rhythm section, those agricultural bass lines, they're something The Fall have been missing for some time now.
Leave The Capitol, 2x4, Dead Beat Descendant. Songs I'd not thought about for years kept flying at me. Reminding me of the pleasure I had when first discovering this band in the eighties and one, of late, I'd largely lost. LA, with its guitar oscillations like the blades of a helicopter's rotor, was immense and Hotel Bloedel an unexpected pleasure. Brix happily taking up MES's lecturing style and investing it with a brio that's long since been replaced by an alcoholic haze in her former husband. When they played C.R.E.E.P. a huge smile broke out across my face at the sheer joy of it all.
The set was liberally sprinkled with the band's own new material. Something I'd not expected and, in theory, would not have welcomed. They turned out to be another pleasant surprise. Veering from Adult Net style bubblegum infused punk to riot grrrl anthems, Brix positioning herself anywhere between Stevie Nicks and Kathleen Hanna, occasionally on Rickenbacker, occasionally on Gibson. Often leaving the guitar work to Steve Trafford and Jason Brown either side of her. When all three guitarists played at once it was some glorious racket.
She really seemed to be enjoying herself too. Bouncing around the stage and actually introducing the songs. It made a change to be able to hear the lyrics and to not have some irritable drinker fucking around with the amps and threatening people.
For an encore we were treated to Totally Wired before dropping into, suprisingly, Hip Priest which, finally, segued into Big New Prinz. Each band member leaving the stage in order until the two Hanley brothers finally got their moment in the spotlight churning out that song's grinding rhythm. They'd waited for, and earned, that moment. The guy in The Three Johns t-shirt certainly seemed to be enjoying it.
They were back on one more time for Lay Of The Land. A fantastic choice to end with though I think most of us could've argued for hours about what they'd missed. No Barmy. No Spoilt Victorian Child. No Oh! Brother. Oh well, plenty in the bank for next time.
Thanks to Gary Bhupsingh for persuading me to come, getting the tickets, and organising an all round super evening. After a fairly emotional week it was very much the tonic I needed.