Kersal Social Club
Sept 22nd 2012
The Salford music festival is a great event.
Put together by Fall associate, Ed Blaney it’s a run of gigs spread across miles of Salford- the city that get ignored by its very noisy neighbour Manchester. With great off the wall venues miles apart this is not an easy festival to run around but that’s part of its charm.
Many of the gigs take place in lost corners of this sprawling city, venues that are little used or are very local hubs and this is one of the keys to the whole event- taking the music out of the hipster enclaves and presenting it back to the people.
Tonight’s event in a social club in Kersal is the most perfect example of this. The venue is a fucker to get to, in a lost corner of Salford that used to team with life when the race course was there before it was knocked down. Ghostly huge old pubs stand on the corner as testament to its former glories. The social club is a classic design, all half chewed lights on the outside and a chip van in the garden. Inside its pretty big and has the nicotine stained air of rowdy drunken seventies nights and gravel voiced comedians.
Tonight it’s the Fall, in what is there almost perfect, mythical backdrop- playing their Fall noise in the working mens clubs is part of their myth and indeed part of most northern bands myth of the late seventies when the towns and cities of the north west were hardly teaming with the amount of venues they have now. This was a real rites of passage to take your obtuse take on the post punk comedown into the frontline of northern entertainment.
First on tonight are Preston’s Evil Blizzard, a band who are really aptly named with their blitzkrieg of dark matter sound. They have certainly cranked their music and weirdness level since we last saw them last year, a gang of prog heads who like to make a grinding noise, the band sound marvellous. Three basses and a singing drummer, this is a grinding, relentless bass heavy grind that is fantastically effective and very hypnotic. They create a stir taking the stage in orange boiler suits and alien rubber masks- it’s an effective and spooky trick making the band look like UFO boarding bank robber pranksters on a smash and grab raid from the planet Zog- they also sound like this.
The noise is unrelenting but it has form and the songs are really well played, they go down a storm and even get a stage invasion. Their grinding noise is so perfectly northern, so magic mushroom, so darkly heavy yet comically strange that they somehow seem perfect in the social club environment supporting he Fall.
Before the Fall come on Meriel Malone takes the stage, the Yorkshire based poet holds the mic and entertains the crowd with her words laced with wit and poison.
There is something about tonight that is perfect Fall. The band take the stage and start jamming around a loose riff and the audience move to the front, when Smith enters the stage its like going back in time. This could be the Fall in 1979 or any decade in their natural environment. This is the future past. The Fall defy time and have always been out of place and after a year of not seeing them it’s great to hear their twisted musical narrative again.
Little has changed in this world in the intervening decades. Like the social club they remain defiant and timeless, if the social club still has the same wallpaper and the same defiant sense of entertainment that has little to do with intervening years- the Fall are, weirdly, the same. They are one man’s idea of music that is thankfully untainted by the intervening years of fashions and whims. Mark Smith remains indestructible, his intellect still intact, his spirit not poisoned and his hair remarkably the same- a fine thatch that has never gone grey (even though there is anew song called Grey which they did not play tonight about getting older)- he remains indomitable and spiritually unbroken by the years.
God knows what the Fall represent now. Tonight they just sound like a fantastic clattering racket, all those constant parts we love are there from the fast songs of Fall-o-Billy and the chaotic covers of a very powerfully dealt Mr. Pharmacist and the always great Strychnine. There is the booze stained run through the rarely played fan favourite Container Drivers from one of the greatest Fall albums Grotesque, the grinding weirdness of tracks like a stunning Cosmos 7 from the great late period peak last album Ersatz GB. and two great strange new songs called something like Irish and another one called Hitman!
It’s all great stuff, Mrs Smith stands there dressed to the nines and with her handbag and great keyboard textures, the band keep out the way and keep it tight and the place has an air of riot about it.
Tonight is very chaotic- rowdy audience members dance on stage during Container Drivers, Mark Smith is even spotted breaking into a smile as the band clatter through the set.
There are no curveballs; it’s almost like a celebration of the Fall spirit in their spiritual heartland. The heartland that is the so called wasteland that stretches out miles away from the trendy Manchester city centre, a place where the real mavericks lurk and stagger up to you and talk their crazed eyed genius as the band’s glam racket thunders away in the distance. The heart of the real north.
This is the real palace of genius a place where time didn’t stand still because it didn’t exist at all. The Fall define timelessness. They sound like the future and the past all rolled into one and they still don’t sound like anyone else.