The Fall LIVE @ Under The Bridge, London 10.06.14

Mark E. Smith is The Fall.
Mark E. Smith formed the band in Prestwich, Greater Manchester in 1976.
Mark E. Smith has always been The Fall.
Mark E. Smith will always be The Fall.
Mark E. Smith has released 30 studio albums and numerous compilations and live albums.
Mark E. Smith is the ultimate Svengali, orchestrator, dictator, puppeteer, agitator, overlord; whispering in the ears of his “group” to tweak it, or “turn it up”. They comply. As any member of The Fall always has; otherwise they are out.
Mark E. Smith is a stumbling, rambling, shambling, incoherent drunk. If you passed him in the street his hectoring would annoy, yet put to the outstanding musicianship he currently has at his disposal it transforms into art.
Mark E. Smith has two drummers who create a cacophony of beats, thuds and thumps. Last year’s ‘The Remainderer’ is a thunderous curtain raiser.
Mark E. Smith almost takes someone’s eye out with his microphone. He carries on oblivious.
Mark E. Smith has a goatee. I know; it beggars belief.
Mark E. Smith has been and continues to be a huge influence on the music scene.
Mark E. Smith and The Fall are playing Under the Bridge, Chelsea Football Club’s stadium. The venue is like the club it’s under and brings to mind the band’s 2011 album ‘Ersatz GB’. The place is cynically festooned with photographs with blurb, memorabilia, old concert posters designed to look “authentic” and a large mosaic of John Lennon in the Men’s. Like the age we live in – one where you can “own” the entire back catalogue of an artist within minutes – this is history for cheats. No endeavour, this is fakery of the highest order. Great sound in there, mind.
Mark E. Smith is not a fake. Mark E. Smith is an astute cultural commentator, a poet and misanthrope.
Mark E. Smith is sarcastic, sneering and sloshed.
Mark E. Smith shocks himself into action with a rampaging cover of The Big Bopper’s ‘White Lightning’. It threatens to sober him up, it’s as if a switch goers off and he clicks into gear. The song has a hint of Duane Eddy’s ‘Peter Gunn’ and is emblematic of Smith’s influences with his own idiosyncratic input thrown into the mix.
Mark E. Smith’s wife and keyboard player, Elena Palou, plays whilst wearing what appears to be half a parachute. It does not affect her ability to play.
Mark E. Smith encounters a stray from ‘Made in Chelsea’ who clambers on stage. Dressed in pastel colours with decks shoes, he is quickly ushered back into the bewildered crowd.
Mark E. Smith rouses once more for a cover of the Sonics’ ‘Strychnine’ which again highlights the brilliant band currently trading as The Fall.
Mark E. Smith – absent from the stage for the final three songs – performs from afar. Encoring with ‘Theme from Sparta FC’, the band play on with Smith’s badgering, cryptic words beamed in. Lasting just over an hour, it’s a mad, bad and sad experience. In the words of another famous Mancunian, “That joke isn’t funny anymore”.
Mar E. Smith will be doing the same thing tonight. And the next.
Mark E. Smith remains as John Peel uttered: “Always different … always the same”.