The Fall at Arts Club (21 Jan ’17)

My first gig of the year was for The Fall who were headlining a so-called ‘all dayer’ at the Arts Club promoted by Club.The.Mammoth.

Ticket

Ticket

Oddly, this all day gig had its first band playing at 5pm. However, this wasn’t much of an issue for me as I didn’t get there until 7pm, after a very frustrating afternoon at Anfield.

I headed upstairs first to the Loft, which was quiet and pretty empty, so I went back down to the main room which was rammed. Sadly, I only managed to catch less than a minute of Rough Trade-signed female four piece Goat Girl, so I can’t really say much about them, other than that I’d happily watch more of them next time!

However, here’s the video to their debut single Country Sleaze:

I was right by the door so went straight back upstairs at the end of their set to get a Guinness from the bar – always a treat to fork out £4 for a can…

I was in plenty of time for the somewhat doomy rock of Tigercub, who (as all the other bands up here) were playing with this stage’s headliners Cabbage’s drum kit, nicely emblazoned with “cock piss Cabbage” on the bass skin.

Tigercub

Tigercub

The impressively be-jumpered Jamie has a deep, strong voice, intoning what seemed like quite gloomy, psych-influenced lyrics. Bassist Jimi had a fine moustache and nice line in stage moves, while drummer James somewhat angrily kept the beat.

Those paying close attention will note that all three band members are called James, apparently the real names of them all. That of course makes me think of Band Of Susans, the rather forgotten early-90’s noise rock combo, who originally had three Susans in their line-up.

Overall they reminded me of something on Homestead Records back in the 90’s or perhaps early Sub Pop, with Jamie’s guitar sometimes recalling J. Mascis. Songs apparently came from new album Abstract Figures In The Dark.

It was then back downstairs for my big disappointment of the night, Eagulls, who were perfectly competent enough and certainly pleased the majority of the punters present, but whose industrial-tinged goth just didn’t move me at all.

Eagulls

Eagulls

Singer George Mitchell’s voice reminded me of the young Robert Smith of The Cure, while he wore an Ian McCulloch-esque greatcoat for much of the set.

There were certainly some hints of 4AD bands circa 1984 in the Leeds band’s sound, while I also got occasional glimpses of the guitar of Kitchens Of DistinctionJulian Swales in there too.

I’ve just discovered they covered Killing Joke on the b-side of an early single, which definitely makes sense.

Back up the apples again for Kagoule, who I’d seen last year at Sound City – you can see my short but hopeful review of them here.

Having just re-read that review, I could hear more of the professed Fugazi influence this time, especially on a great song called Glue.

Kagoule

Kagoule

They were nicely intense and spiky with vocals shared between the peroxide Cai Burns and bassist Lucy Hatter, who sang a new song (called It’s Not My Day?) which was much poppier but had some great minor key rhythm guitar.

Their final song made me think of punk era Adam And The Ants – no bad thing.

I then headed downstairs for Hookworms, having to forgo Cabbage. A tough choice, but I love Hookworms, and I had seen Cabbage once before, at least for a bit, at Sound City (review here). Hopefully, I will get to see Cabbage again soon as re-reading my review reminded me of how enjoyable they were.

Hookworms

Hookworms

I’d seen Hookworms twice before, once as a freebie Liverpool Music Week gig at The Kazimier back in October 2014 (review here), and then at Liverpool Psych Fest eleven months later (review here).

While waiting for them to come on, the DJ was spinning some good tunes, including the extremely fine Sugar Kane by Sonic Youth. The band came on at 9pm, with their beautifully intense motorik sounds helping to make my ears (metaphorically!) bleed, as I thought they would.

hookworms-tweetAs on previous occasions, I’m not comfortable naming the tracks they played, but the Spotify playlist below includes a few they played according to the Setlist website.

The DJ really came into his own between Hookworms and The Fall, with the highlights including The Stooges, Spacemen 3, Joy Division, Dead Kennedys, Fugazi, Ciccone Youth and X-Ray Spex. I was also kept entertained with a couple of compliments on my pale blue Reformation Post TLC Fall t-shirt.

There was practically a mosh pit during these songs where I was (front and centre), with plenty of people singing along to the likes of Holiday In Cambodia and Oh Bondage Up Yours!.

What can I say about The Fall? The mighty Fall, that is. Undoubtedly my favourite band who have been active in my lifetime. This was the nineteenth time I’d seen them, second only to Amsterdam/Ian Prowse who are on twenty.

I sadly had to miss them on their last visit to the city when they played the wonderful Kaz, so I was made up to get to see them for the first time in more than five(!) years, a very long gap for me.

Their recent output has all been of a pretty high standard, although with fewer real killer numbers than earlier in their career. Clearly, the band is not at the peak of its powers (which was probably in the early to mid-80’s), although the current line-up is a very good backing band.

MES is obviously no spring chicken any more (he turns sixty in March), but is still very capable of prowling the stage, fiddling with the band’s monitors and reciting (don’t think singing is quite the right word) his unique lyrics, often through two mikes at once.

I’d say MES was very unique if I wasn’t constantly aware of my late father’s grammatical fascism which means I know that’s incorrect English. Nice fascism, honest.

Anyway, the set included (I think), five new songs from their upcoming New Facts Emerge album (facts, not alternative facts…) and six others that I was aware of, as they were off recent albums, with nothing more than a decade old.

The Fall

The Fall

There was a thoroughly active mosh pit throughout their set, which meant I gradually edged backwards towards the back of the downstairs section. I was pleasantly surprised by the age and gender profile of the crowd – though somewhat baffled as to how ‘ver kids’ are even aware of The Fall, never mind fans enough to come along, let alone know the songs.

A surprising aspect of the show was MES handing the mike into the crowd on a couple of occasions for (fortunately knowledgeable) punters to take over the vocals.

All I can say really is that The Fall were very much The Fall, although they definitely suffered from the current (permanent?) absence from the band of MES’s latest wife Elena Poulou, with MES occasionally fiddling with some electronics in lieu of her keyboards.

Guitarist Pete Greenway, Dave Spurr on bass and drummer Keiron Melling have all been with the band for a decade, making this one of the most stable line-ups in history.

The Fall. “Always different, always the same” as John Peel said. They were on decent form, and I am looking forward to the next time already. They won’t go on forever, and if 2016 taught me anything, it’s to treasure your musical heroes and loves while you can, and go to see them live while they are still breathing.

Tonight’s t-shirt

As mentioned, I wore my pale blue The Fall t-shirt, while I also spotted Yak, Spacemen 3, The Velvet Undergound, The Doors and Echo And The Bunnymen tees, as well as an Eagulls bag.

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Playlist

Here is a lot of the music from the night on Spotify:

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