You probably think this song is about you.
Sadly but also funnily about The Fall is that I’ve often felt, and still do, that he’s singing about idiot-joy people like me – the traits of me. The will-be member of the league of bald-headed men; look-back bore. And this has coloured, obviously, my relationship with a particular album – something like falling out (I know) with a friend – or probably better to use his ‘acquaintance’ term. That, for example, Paranoia Man in Cheap Shit Room, caught me when I was being practically that; and the lyric that stays in my head: What do you fear? Being found out. Then why do you always give yourself away? And its being complicating that it’s from the beautiful Extricate – an album that feels, and will always feel, as optimistic, fun-filled and uplifting as life quite possibly was for me then when I left England (to be a British person in hot weather, naturally). Sometimes good, and sometimes bad; it’s not a stable friendship: one to which I am always resigning. How 1996’s The Light User Syndrome caught me so badly at my very worst, that I can’t re-listen to it. As if it’s in any way about me.
I have only ever seen the Fall in May.
In May 1987 I saw The Fall three nights in a row; London, Norwich, Colchester. (At the latter found out that Coventry had beaten Spurs in the FA Cup Final; Leeds made it to the semis that year.) My memory is that the set on the tour was mainly Bend Sinister. Hey, genius, maybe it was the Bend Sinister Tour. Next time was at Leeds Uni in 1993 (a frightening crowd), and we were up to The Infotainment Scan. Helpfully my CD version here has an inner sleeve collage of old tickets: Thursday 13th May (those 1987 dates ran: 14th, 15th, 16th May.)
This May, 2015, I went to Wakefield with my old friend Andy T. (with whom to other parts of Yorkshire for Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, Johnny Marr, and Morrissey also). We were nearly very late for The Fall this time. In the pub. Actually did miss the walk-on.
Some beats are bigger than others.
It’s the rock n’ roll that underpins it all. In 1985 the Beggars Banquet Sampler album introduced me to The Fall via Spoilt Victorian Child, then Jane from Benfleet came with This Nation’s Saving Grace… and immediately these unsectionable workers had me hooked. The collage sound and things being unplugged suddenly and the jokes and Curly-Wurlys – with beats and riffs that go on forever. Then The Wonderful and Frightening… as my first own-bought Fall vinyl – and we’re off. I’m off.
Fall Heads Roll: Roll-on, Roll-off…
In Wakefield, MES scowls, growls and pauses and shouts over the thumping, the buzz-keyboards and the double-shift rock n’ roll of Pete Greenway downstage on guitar. A shot of What About Us? feeds every extended, extended section – unplayed, but its motorway-ness is present in the coming album of the set. This is another hardcore Fall for me, converging with what I’m after in recall of the relentless I found in Perverted by Language; in Container Drivers; in Jawbone… and whilst it’s true, it doesn’t matter (because I love The Fall) that I left a favourite behind at Code: Selfish.