Friday, November 23, 2007

The Fall / Miss Halliwell Barfly Birmingham Thursday 22nd November 2007

Miss Halliwell. Remember that name. I will. For fans of The Fall, The Buzzcocks, Billy Childish...all class acts in my book...Miss Halliwell are a must hear. God help anyone who supports The Fall, after all the guy's a legend and his admirers are a loyal bunch (which don't always make for the most receptive audience), but Miss Halliwell were bloody impressive from start to finish, lyrically and musically. Sure they've got some rough edges and a few people didn't get it, but that's what makes performances like this really special...if you ain't dividing opinion then you might as well be Westlife. It looks like they've only been going a year or so as Miss Halliwell (in a previous incarnation some (?) of them were The Racists) - even less with their current line up - but I loved 'em. Lead Halliwell, Matthew (Halliwell...that's handy innit?) has a wonderfully sneery sort of voice, perfectly suited to the often caustic lyrics, drummer Sarah powers the whole thing along like Meg White on speed and CN Support (the stand stilliest man in rock) provides some darn funky bass. I've just listened to their two My Space tracks about 20 times and I'm still not bored. That is the mark of something glorious my friends.

Miss Halliwell put me in a great mood for The Fall. I've seen them just once. Of course it wasn't them. Mark E.Smith changes his band as often as I change my socks. Annually. So tonight was a totally different band to the one that graced The Foundry /Goldwyns back in 1997/8-ish. No matter, the one thing Mr Smith is good at is recruiting shit hot musicians and he's not lost his touch...his marbles maybe...but not his touch. The band took to the stage first then Mark entered from the left. I have to say I was a little shocked at first. He just looked a bit frail...a bit confused. Of course he's always had that sense of randomness (last time I saw him he wandered off stage and went behind the bar whilst the band carried on playing) but I doubted whether he'd even make it onto the stage this time. Of course, he did. And once up there he wandered about it like some glorious drunken uncle at a wedding, shouting into not one, not two...but at one point three (three...count 'em!) microphones. He has this technique (I believe it's deliberate) of tangling up the mic leads, knocking down the mic stands, tangling these up with the leads, then dragging the whole shebang around with him like Marley's ghost. He always fiddles with the band's stuff a lot too, jabbing the keyboard, removing the mic from the drum and finally, turning off then unplugging the guitarists amp. He wandered off stage a few times too, even performing an entire track from inside the dressing room. This was just after he'd nicked the drummers cymbol, plonked it in the middle of the stage then hit it - full force - with one of his mics. Unsurprisingly the mic thought 'Fuck this...' and broke into several large chunks (one of which now has pride of place in my collection of gig rubbish) in a vague effort to save itself. He also got one of the roadies (I think he was anyway) to sing part of one of the tracks. In other words t'was business as unusual. The diehards lapped it up, the curious first timers were astonished and it all went down as another legendary Fall gig in a career that's now in its 31st year. Amazingah.

NB: Interesting to read the comments on The Fall message board re last night's gig too. Some loved it, some were underwhelmed. Plus ca change.

No comments: