The Fall - Sub89, Reading - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

The Fall - Sub89, Reading

by Steve Reynolds Rating: Release Date:

As part of Reading's Outside: Inside Festival this summer, the organisers have managed to snare the wit and abrasive charm of Manchester's The Fall for a gig at the Sub89 club. The band have always been about the main commander in chief, Mr Mark E Smith, and over the last four decades more than 40 members have come and gone - some so in the blink of an eye. The current line-up is still in The Fall mode of old with an urgent and oblique sound keeping with the tradition of edgy torch-bearing guitar music.

If you've never seen them before you'd think what's on offer is just four musicians playing on stage minus a singer who hasn't showed up, but then a dishevelled 50-something bloke volunteers, resulting in much spouting off of incoherent lyrics for the next 90 minutes. Their current set pulls a large chunk from their excellent 2010 album Your Future, Our Clutter interjected with some new material and the odd old gem - 'Mr Pharmacist'.

Smith is a character who's more than carved out his own niche with his trademark rambling delivery, in full flow on opener 'Nate'. He spends part of the set singing off-stage, shuffling around by the monitors looking like he's reading forgotten lyrics off sheets of paper. He even passes the mic to a member of the audience who barks vitriol much to the agreement from Smith. It all makes for an entertaining and ramshackle show from him while the band is more than content to pound out the songs.

Musically, The Fall are a well rehearsed outfit and are tighter than a drum throughout. They are amiably led by head axeman Pete Greenway, who twists and contorts his guitar through such beauties as 'Cowboy George' and tonight's highlight, 'Bury Pts 1 + 3'. The groove on the latter is resplendent with backing vocals and heavy synth riffs from Smith's wife Elena. At times, Smith is more than happy to take a backseat as the band belligerently plough on through.

They're certainly not to everyone's taste but tonight there's a rich vein of material played by a band right at the top of their game. Go see them soon before Smith starts delivering his vocals via the internet!

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