The Fall – Dublin – live review

The Fall
Button Factory, Dublin
18 July 2012

The Fall play to a big but slow-to-get-going crowd in Dublin on the first of three Ireland tour dates.  

Stefan Murphy is part of a long tradition of great Dublin songwriters,cut from the same cloth as Phil Lynott, he’s a more punk Damien Dempsey. He is the Mighty Stef, however he is often amplified by a collection of great musicians that have been playing with him for a good few years.

The band would be as at home on a traditional Irish music line up, as a rock, or a punk one, and they blend these elements into a idiosyncratic style of their own. They are perfectly suited to the same bill as the Fall too, and whether Stef is beating the crap out of his guitar on solo nights, or joined, as he is tonight with the full band, the shows are always memorable.

The set takes in material from all three studio albums, the most recent of which was 2010’s “The Mighty Stef and the Baptists,”an album recorded with Irish band Humanzi. His voice is powerful, bluesy and soulful, yet very Irish, and his stage presence forces total attention.

His songs are honest, personal, and totally captivating. Why he isn’t better known outside Ireland defies logic. Although massive success has evaded him yet, it hasn’t swayed his motivation, and you know it’s only a matter of time before it happens.

He gets an enthusiastic response from the crowd, and has them well prepped for Mark E. Smith and crew.

Speaking to two Fall fans after the show, who had traveled over from Bristol, they were completely ecstatic about the support, and were looking forward to getting their hands on some Mighty Stef albums today. It always feels good when an act you really like wins over some new fans.

There is a bit of wait for Mark E. and crew, although it’s not excessive as it has been in the past. The post punk outfit have been going for 36 years now, and show no signs of slowing down.

The last few years have seen the band play less dates, so we’re delighted that they have decided to play three here. Dublin is the first night of their short stint around Ireland, which will also takes in Galway and Cork.

The last time they played in Dublin, it was to a sizeable crowd in a smaller venue. The fact that they’re playing three dates this time round, the Button Factory seemed like a big venue.

Testimony to the band’s enduring popularity, the venue was wedged. The crowd however, although having shown their appreciation in ticket sales, failed to get going. There was an air of disinterest, especially where I was standing.

The nonchalant response from the crowd seemed to be picked up by the band, and Mark made some comments about it. He also left the stage a couple of times for long periods, leaving the band to fill in.

When he was on stage he was focused, looked healthy, and sounded great. It was a good solid performance, it just didn’t veer towards some of the more epic shows witnessed over the years. As is typical of the Fall, the set relied heavily on newer material.

They play a new track, “Gapa”, which sounds great. “Nate Will Not Return” from the criminally underrated Ersatz GB sounds excellent, and features alternative lyrics to the recorded version.”Taking Off” from the same album sounds equally brilliant.

If Mark seemed unimpressed with the crowd, Eleana is enjoying herself. She takes over vocal duties on Reformation Post TLC’s “Systematic Abuse”, whether this was pre-planned or not remains to be seen, but she does a great job, and the version isn’t lacking because of Mark’s absence.

“I’ve been Duped” from” Imperial Wax Solvent, and “Bury pts 1 & 3” from “Your Future Our Clutter!” sound magnificent, and Mark’s hilarious intro to”Cowboy George” from the same album provokes a lot of laughter.

Older tracks that we are treated to are Grotesque’s “The Container Drivers”, and their cover of the Sonic’s “Strychnine”

The close with The Real New Fall LP’s “Theme from Sparta FC”. It gets the biggest cheer, and sounds fantastic. Overall, the set was too short, especially when you factor in Mark’s disappearing bouts, and we are left craving more.

In fact, most are reluctant to believe it’s actually over. It feels like the crowd were slow to get into it, and when they finally were, it was too late.

The gig can’t be faulted really, but another few songs would have been greatly appreciated.

All words by Ray Burke. You can read more from Ray on LTW here.

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  1. I get a sense of deja vu reading this – not I hasten to add any fault of the writer as its very well written, but the fact that most Fall gigs seem to follow the same pattern, with Smith disappearing off stage at least twice at length and the set being of a short duration (last time I saw them I would be surprised if MES spent more than 1/2 hour on stage).

    Its a shame as the records are still good but I think I’ll leave seeing them live until the performance picks up a bit.

  2. I think that’s a very generous review. A fifty-ish minute on/off set, admittedly with some cracking tunes, just seems a little disrespectful, especially after a 240 mile round trip.

    I feel a bit mugged.


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