The Fall doesn’t get to Los Angeles much: they’ve been denied entry into the States, they’ve cancelled shows and leader Mark E. Smith has sacked the entire band mid-tour (or just as likely, the band quit). And let’s face it, they’ve never been known as paragons of consistency. Off nights may just be the price their fans pay for the times the Fall has been brilliant; Los Angeles happens to have been on the receiving end of more than its share of the former. But at the Echo Friday night, Los Angeles got to experience one of the seminal British Punk bands at its best.
Originally scheduled as part of All Tomorrow’s Parties, when that festival postponed, the band had to scramble; this show was booked into the Echo at the last minute. Perhaps the uncertain nature of the evening inspired the band, for they delivered a powerful, hourlong set that left even the famously dyspeptic Smith smiling.
Famously prolific, releasing 76 albums and 32 singles (with almost as many different lineups) over their 25 year career, Fall concerts tend to concentrate on current material. But at the Echo, they mixed recent tunes such as “Dr. Buck Letter” and “Sparta F.C.” with classic 1980s songs including “Mr. Pharmacist,” “Mere Pseud Mag. Ed” and “I Am Damo Suzuki.” Performing with a rare precision, the band nailed the song’s spiky clangerous wayward funk, topped by Smith’s cantankerous and nearly unintelligible Mancunian sneer.
Celebrating their silver anniversary, the Fall sound more alive and contemporary than the Punk vaudeville of their contemporaries, i.e Sex Pistols or the Buzzcocks. In fact they’re more alive and contemporary than most bands half their age.
The Fall are scheduled to play New York’s Knitting Factory on July 6 and 7.