Mark E Smith and his motley crew take their primal, minimalistic rock to Liverpool, Mike Chapple investigates.
You canÃ¢ÂÂt love The Fall. Like a feral cat it can look cute, but come too close and youÃ¢ÂÂll get badly clawed.
Yet they demand, and deserve, respect Ã¢ÂÂ and live, theyÃ¢ÂÂre still one of the most powerful, uncompromising forces in contemporary music as they proved once again.
Their primal minimalistic roar is intoxicating, a relentless steam-roller that can have you laughing maniacally with delight as the sheer force knocks you off your feet and sweeps you up in a great wave of rock. Stripped to itÃ¢ÂÂs pure, bare, bones.
Then, raging over the top of it all, is the voice of the bandÃ¢ÂÂs founder and sole survivor of 32 years, Mark E Smith.
A prototype for the man growing old disgracefully, when he dies from whatever gets him through the night Ã¢ÂÂ be it fags, drink, speed, sex, poetry, football or probably all six Ã¢ÂÂ his wrinkled, skeletal frame should be stuffed Jeremy Bentham-style with a plaque underneath declaring: Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs the way to do it!Ã¢Â?.
Because, despite the stage tantrums and eccentricities such as a chimp-style tendency to fiddle with the equipment Ã¢ÂÂ and typically there was plenty on display from Smith on this occasion Ã¢ÂÂ he and they, the band, still know how to do it right.
The Fall is now in its umpteenth incarnation, but certainly this one is up there with one of the best Ã¢ÂÂ that is, until Smith once again decides to dismantle it through another punch-up or divorce.
Pete Greenway (guitar), Dave Spurr (bass) and especially Keiron Melling, who lashed out with a savagely merciless display on drums, are a solid powerhouse held together by the Spartan keyboard work of Mrs Smith, aka Elenor Poulo. You suspect that despite her petite appearance, in this woman the Manic Manc has finally met his match. She may have even been instrumental in bringing them back on stage after hubby tetchily marched the band off just on the hour mark.
It was a good call, the night being rounded off with White Lightning and a couple of other favourites before Smith and Co trudged off without a word or acknowledgement.
The audience, ears ringing from the decibel level, would not have had it any other way.
They know the mould was broken when The Fall was made.