I can’t really say that this was a first. As every Fall fan knows, there is always a risk factor whenever you go to see live Mark E. Smith and his troops. Depending on Mark’s mood, mental/physical state and other unpredictable factors, on a good day you can witness pure, mind-blowing, rock brilliance in action but sometimes what you get is a spectacular fiasco. And, quite often, a bit of both - all part of the charm of a typical Fall gig.
Unfortunately, this time (and in stark contrast to the band’s previous gig at the same venue) what started very promisingly, with the band firing on all pistons propelled by the two dueling drummers, ended up in improvised shambles after Smith’s unexplained walk off the stage just before the half-hour mark of the show.
The rest of the band, led by Elena Poulou with the help of new drummer Darren who took over vocal duties for a couple of tracks, made a brave effort to continue and played for another half hour, but, let’s face it, this ship cannot be steered without its captain.
From the proper, first half of the gig the standout track was a powerful rendition of "Mister Rode" which sounded better than the recorded version from the recent "The Remainderer" EP, the opening "Victrola Time" and the cover of Frank Zappa’s "Hungry Freaks Daddy". From the improvised, Smith-less, second half (the Fall-tribute part of the gig or, perhaps more appropriately, the post-Fall gig) the track that fared best was the cover of "White Lightening" with Darren doing his best M.E.S. impression.
As Smith once famously said, "If it’s me and your granny on bongos, then it’s a Fall gig". But, what do you get without him in the equation?
|The Rattler Proxy, live @ Gagarin 205|
The show opened with a 45-minute set by local act The Rattler Proxy which owes a huge debt to Suicide. The laptop-processed beats and ominous sounds are the backdrop for the Alan Vega-style yelps and screams of the singer who spent most of the time on his knees or rolling around the floor. An interesting performance, although the songs could use a bit more variety - just an idea, but how about adding a guitar to the mix?
Here’s what The Fall (and the post-Fall) ended up playing (not much relation to the planned set list):
Victrola Time, Hungry Freaks Daddy, Wolf Kidult Man, I’ve Been Duped, Strychnine, Mister Rode ...and without MES: Remainderer, White Lightening, Cowboy George. Encore (sort of): Amorator, Theme From Sparta F.C.
The Fall - Mister Rode (live @ Gagarin 205, Athens, February 1st, 2014)