The Fall

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Four stars

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MARK E Smith remains irrelevant in 2016 and it is not racket science.

Those few perplexed who turned up expecting the euphoric chart-happy elecro-dance of club night at Oran Mor to hear Mark E Smith and co's swampy bass-heavy grumbles grinding out could testify.

It's the wrong door for a start; physically, aurally and historically.

To the X Factor generation, it will often come as a surprise that The Fall are used to critical acclaim. It seems to be an unwritten rule that these unrelenting, belligerent and single-minded grooves underpinned by  Smith's often indecipherably slurring drawl about something or other must been applauded very loudly.

The fact that after 40 years of existence, Smith will not play a 'greatest hits' if there can be such a thing, is testament to his position as an untouchable, omnipresent deity of British popular culture. He can get away with it.

Dundee's up-and-coming garage-indie upstarts Vladimir who are providing support, are to a man at least 35 years younger than the approaching-60 Smith, and cannot afford to be so self-indulgent playing a earbuzzing half hour of their best stuff including their anthemic newey I Try and their creative take of the Underworld classic Born Slippy.

Smith, all craggy features, suited-up with what looks like a cigarette burn on his grey trousers, coming across as a dishevelled spaced-out Modern Studies teacher without a school, stumbles onto yet another stage doing precisely what the hell he wants, whether we like it or not.

So he will disappear for periods to let the crowd take over 'vocals' and randomly play discordant notes on a keyboard that would have been played by his wife Elena Poulou had she showed up.


For just over an hour this small 500-capacity venue sees the best and the beast of Smith, those captivating repetitive drone riffs and ear-splittingly tribal double drums hold together a band that could easily Fall apart at any moment.

The set list cannot be stuck to such is the unpredictable nature of just 60 minutes with Mark E Smith.

But there is no questioning that Smith remains a man apart, a precious tour-de-force who cannot be immitated even though Shaun Ryder of the Happy Mondays may try.

The band members even support Smith physically as they help him on-stage for a rapturous encore of White Lightning.

May Mark E Smith remain totally irrelevant.