The packed, glass domed venue is primed for The Fall to wreak their unmatchable brand of sonic carnage. The previous night in Brixton was, apparently, below par, but tonight Mark E Smith’s crew are on headspinning form.
On the opening Mister Rode, Smith is a gloriously deranged folk hero and wizard of Prestwich - audible but not visible. This becomes a recurring theme throughout the night as utilising a succession of technology our hero performs on and off the boards. “The poor c**t’s a legend and he’s not allowed to smoke onstage,” seethes one fan.
No matter. Face screwed up, squinting out at the crowd, chewing gum (and words) like it’s the first meal he’s had in weeks, Smith is never less than a reassuring force of vituperation, a living embodiment of the much-vaunted (but seldom located) truly anarchic spirit of rock’n’roll. He goads audience members, one of two drummers and Korg keys-playing girlfriend Elena, to have their say into the mics.
But there’s a definite method, even showmanship, to this saboteur, knob-twiddling madness. A thumping Sparta FC aside, the set locates The Fall’s golden period firmly in the present, the barbed brilliance and splenetic uproar of Dedication Not Medication and Quit iPhone.
Predominantly post-40s and male the audience nonetheless contains younger boys and girls. This means dancefloor mayhem marks the path to the climactic encore of 2007’s revitalised mission statement Reformation.
The Fall, then (and The Fall now ), turning chaos into euphoria. Still magnificent and unique.