On 26th March 2007 at 16:45 giant gray stacks wrote...
Could the song you didn't know 'Hungry Freaks Daddy' been a version of the Zappa tune?
Live at Irish Centre on Wednesday, 21st March 2007
A last-minute change of plan means that I'm reviewing this gig rather than your usual correspondent. And the fact that bus timetables are a rough guide rather than an actual indication of when your bus might arrive mean that by the time I'm inside a packed venue with de-misted spectacles and thawed ears (my, it was cold at that bus stop), Piskie Sits are well into their stride. Sorry, lads. I did the best I could.
Anyway, the reviewer's logistical inconveniences aside, it's fair to say that Piskie Sits are not unfamiliar with the works of Pavement. They're on stage long enough for me to wonder how three guitars can make so little noise yet marvel at the quality of the sound (which is excellent), wonder whether they've heard the Lemonheads, and be full of admiration at their last song (introduced as "a single" on "a local label"). You'll have to do better than that, boys: try telling people it's called "What Is the Point?" and it's on Wrath.
So, in a bit, it's time for The Fall. The glutinous retread of an album track calls the faithful in the manner of a muezzin. The band shamble on, and the opening riff is laid down, with a preponderance of bass. It's "Reformation!" - mostly instrumental, with one of the two bassists coming directly from one of Jon Voigt's Deliverance nightmares. Christ, he's hairy. And immediately I notice the guitar tone: it's an absolute steal from about a gazillion 60s garage records, and it's absolutely perfect.
Things are off proper with "Pacifying Joint". Smith removes his jacket: business is meant. The half-sleeve black jumper he's wearing over his shirt doesn't have much of a shelf-life either. That comes of in no time too. (These things are only significant to seasoned Fall-watchers, but indicate a greater truth, more of which will become apparent later.) Smith even ends this song with a slurred "Thank you": they mean business tonight.
"Over! Over!" follows, and then we get "Fall Sound", a mad motorik thing. It's tense, lean, muscular, with a kind of hidden menace that only The Fall do. And it's at this point I REALISE something I've always known, deep in my heart: you only need one riff if it's good enough.
A quick run through "Theme From Sparta FC" is followed by a song I don't recognise ("Hungry Freaks, Daddy"?), but then The Fall have always done that: honing songs on the road - by the time the album's come out, you'll have heard all the songs if you've been to enough gigs. Whatever the song is, it's got the kind of authentic US 60s garage guitar sound they've been trying to get for years. Prudent move from Smith - get some Americans in. The same guitar sound adds a whole new dimension to "My Door", at the end of which Smith tinkers with a keyboard and is actually in tune. Wonders will never cease.
"The Wright Stuff" sees Eleni take vocal duties, while the bassist who looks like a scary backwoodsman (you listening Jon Voigt?) plays keyboards and a roadie who is the spit of Cousin It manages to break one of the bass amps. Smith reappears and ad-libs some lines about people "playin' fuckin' records", and then they're off in a huff, and I fear the worst.
But ... we are then treated - and I really do mean treated - to "Blindness", possibly the best song they've done in ages: again, just the one riff, over, over, and over again. But it's too short, and then we're into a streak through "White Lightning" and I feel a bit cheated until they do "Systematic Abuse". Ah. Now the short version of "Blindness" makes sense. Again, it's just the one riff, over and over again. But it's mesmeric, punishing, crushing, overpowering.
And we get two further encores: "Mountain Energei", in which the guitar sound is better than it has ever, ever been, and "What About Us", a song about Harold Shipman, in which the hand Smith normally keeps either by his side or in his pocket is used to make sweeping, expansive gestures while the band behind him pummel the shit out of - yes, you've guessed it - just the one riff. It's about as good as music gets, frankly. You can keep your fancy singer-songwriters, troubadours, pop muppets and people with haircuts. This goes to the core.
As I'm standing gaping, the lights go up and people begin to shuffle past me. Someone taps me on the shoulder: "We have to go". It's an unwelcome intrusion, but a practical one. I could have listened to The Fall forever tonight. They were that good.