The Fall, The Undertones at Epic, in Magdalen Street, Norwich, on Wednesday, October 10

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Unfortunately the perils of a young daughter meant that I arrived too late for Dingus Khan and Bearsuit. Never mind, as there is plenty more live music over the coming days...

Despite The Undertones being without original singer Feargal Sharkey, Paul McLoone does a fine job of reviving these punk classics. Hoping to hear the few Undertones tunes that I previously knew, I wasn’t to be disappointed.

Here Comes the Summer? Check. My Perfect Cousin? Check. Jimmy Jimmy? Check. But the one everyone is waiting for naturally arrives towards the end. No matter how many times I hear Teenage Kicks it still sounds fresh and exciting to these ears.

The fact that The Fall arouse this much crowd anticipation before they even play a note, goes a little way to understanding this unpredictable and remarkable band.

How long (if at all) will they play for tonight? Taking in the unlikely surroundings and impressive setup of the venue, the sizeable crowd are conscious that if singer Mark E Smith has the hump or has had a few too many drinks, tonight’s show may be short-lived.

But the band emerge (fairly punctually too) to that familiar Fall sound that John Peel famously coined as being “always different, always the same”.

After 35 years and almost twice that in past members, Mark E Smith is getting quite good at prowling the stage, like an unhinged, leather jacket-clad velociraptor, whilst his super-tight band batter out their unruly noise.

I’ve Been Duped and Bury are highlights of the set and this incarnation of the group, which has now been together for five years, produce a pummelling sound enhanced by Smith’s incomprehensible mumblings and on-stage antics.

With Smith reading his deranged lyrics from scraps of paper and constantly tweaking the volume of the guitarists’ amps, seeing The Fall live truly is a unique experience.

The band swiftly return for an encore of Reformation which, thanks to the large video screens either side of the stage, reveals Smith yammering away from behind an amp like a naughty school boy. A rousing Theme From Sparta FC, the surreal “sing along hit” bizarrely used previously as the music for BBC’s Final Score, gets the crowd into a flurry. This effortlessly rolls into a stomping finale of Mr Pharmacist, a track which it’s easy to forget is more than 25 years old.

A great curtain opener for the Norwich Sound and Vision Festival and the next three days of live music.

3 comments

  • Spot on review from someone who clearly understands the John Peel ethos. Bearsuit were excellent, the Undertones were fantastic. I've seen the Fall so many times since the mid 80s and every show is as you say “always different, always the same”. A great night

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    Lardofale

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

  • Shame on you Sammy for making excuses and not being at the gig from the start. Dingus Khan were superb and warranted a larger following and also a review from your good self.

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    A fine city

    Friday, October 12, 2012

  • @A Fine City My friend said I made a mistake by arriving late and pulling the 'baby bathtime' excuse. Next time they play in town I will do my best to catch, and possibly review them.

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    Sick Bookies

    Friday, October 12, 2012

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