The Kazimier, Liverpool
13th May 2015
With their new album due out on 25th May Sean Diamond caught The Fall live in Liverpool a few days ago.
Enjoy The Kazimier while you can folks, it won’t be around for much longer. As part of a ‘redevelopment’ plan (to the tune of 40 million nicker) a kindly local property firm have decided to turn the city’s Wolstenholme Square, the site of the historic Cream nightclub and home of the venue for the past seven years into a hive of shops, ‘luxury’ apartments and leisure facilities, with the full support of the greedy, corrupt fat cats who make up much of Liverpool City Council. Not content with solely demolishing this tiny piece of musical culture, Elliot Lawless (a man with the most appropriate choice of surname this side of Eric Pickles) and his mates at Elliot Group also have their sights set on the Baltic Fleet, a creative hub which plays home to District and Camp And Furnace, two of the city’s best independent venues, as well as the Baltic Bakehouse, possibly the finest sandwich shop I have ever set foot in! Being old converted warehouses, it looks likely that these magnificent buildings will be cast aside in favour of ‘progressive’ modern architecture; yuppy flats and those big tall shiny buildings which never seem to get used. It’s a sorry state of affairs, the city that spawned The Beatles, the biggest band the world has ever seen (and is ever likely to see) slowly being turned into a Wanker’s Paradise, with the people that care seemingly powerless to do anything about it. On the plus side there have been highly vocal campaigns from musicians and music lovers to save Princes Studios (also at risk of redevelopment) and The Lomax (closed for three months under questionable circumstances). It’s heartening to see People Power in action, only together can we make a difference. Right now though, with the Tories back in power and the UK becoming ever more socially divisive the future’s looking pretty fucking grim; the more we make a stand, the better the chance we have of reversing things. To quote Marxist socialist Punk-soul brothers The Redskins, Let’s Make It Work!
Right. Rant over, let’s move on to the gig. On first are a Northern five piece shouty, punky, technoey bunch of rabble rousers; a long haired drummer and lead guitarist situated above the stage, an attractive female bassist, a tall, wiry punk rocker and a well-built, slightly scary looking chap in a hat. The last three all share vocal duties and it’s all rather exciting; a mutant cyborg stew of Pop Will Eat Itself beats, Rage Against The Machine guitar licks and Atari Teenage Riot shouting. In short, it’s like the nineties all over again, but in a good way. No idea what they were called, but apparently they’re supporting Theatre Of Hate in town soon. Grow a goatee, dig out your big shorts and Naf Jacket and prepare to turn on, tune in and drop out. Or ‘cop out’ as Norman Cook might have it. Sorted!
The band strike up, a garbled Beefheartian blues howl erupts from the back of the stage and we’re in; ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the wonderful and frightening world of The Fall. City Hobgoblin Mark E. Smith and his ever changing back up of merry minions have been complaining to the high heavens for almost forty years now; 31 studio albums in and he shows very little sign of either slowing down or growing old gracefully! Although clearly not as inebriated as the last time I saw them live, wandering round the back of the stage, retuning all the instruments and amps whilst all the while looking barely able to stand, there are still moments of gleeful madness; singing through two mics, inviting band and audience members to sing alongside him and shaking hands with the front row, as well as making disturbingly weird noises with his mouth mid-song and pulling lizard faces. Quite normal behaviour by his standards, if the truth be told. Thankfully the music is as potent as ever. Daren Garratt and Keiron Melling dazzle with their dual powerhouse drumming. Smith’s wife Eleni Poulou sizzles with her intense 60s Garage Band keyboarding and insistent vocals, while Pete Greenway’s rockabilly psycho guitar lines and Dave Spurr’s solid rhythmic bass playing add method to the mayhem with the feverishly unbridled passion of a six week old puppy, loyal to their master and barely containable in their excitement. Much of the 70 min set is based around new album ‘Sub – Lingual Tablet‘ (which I am yet to hear), with one song, ‘Dedication Not Medication’ burning an indelible mantra into your brain like an aural tattooist’s needle.
To the casual observer, you’ll either like The Fall or you won’t. That’s all there is to it. Mark E.Smith has a disarmingly penetrating self-knowledge on a par with Nietzsche’s, you’re never going to change him. He won’t pander to your tastes or sensibilities; if you get it, great, if you don’t, fuck you. It’s accessible to those willing to delve in, lyrically he often betrays a cynical black humour in stark contrast to those who like to portray him as a miserablist (his stage persona tells you he is anything but), a surrealistic world view and bizarrely prolific work schedule which is closer in spirit to black artists such as Kool Keith or Lee ‘Scratch Perry than many of the ‘festive 50’ type copycat indie bands of the eighties and nineties. His debt to Beefheart (his clearest musical influence) is represented tonight in a compellingly shambolic cover of ‘Dropout Boogie’ from Safe As Milk, the good captain’s debut long player. Never a ‘Greatest Hits’ band, the only crowd pleasers come in the forms of ‘Bury’ and ‘Theme From Sparta F.C.’, the fact an artist with a back catalogue as Smith’s has chosen not to settle into complacency and workmanlike ‘classic album’ tours is surely confirmation of the man’s Maverick spirit and progressive outlook. Memo to property developers and city councils, if you’re reading : THIS is how you do progressive thinking! Not that you care of course. You’re probably not even reading this, are you?
Thanks to Estoy Libre for kindly giving us permission to use his photo. Follow him on Twitter as @SepLad.
All words by Sean Diamond. More work by Sean Diamond can be found in his Louder Than War archive.