1985 Gigs

With Steve Hanley still on paternity leave and Simon Rogers  drafted in on bass for the last few dates of 1984 the new Fall line-up started with  four dates in England before departing for America. On return, and with Hanley back on bass, and Rogers moving to keyboards/guitar, a short UK tour began, after Peel Session #8 had been recorded. The UK tour culminated with a slot at the WOMAD festival.

A seven date tour of Germany preceded a second Peel Session (the ninth) leading to a lengthy UK tour interrupted by the groups’ first live UK television appearance on The Tube.

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16th June 1985   Clitheroe Castle, Lancashire

This free gig was transmitted live for Steve Barker’s On The Wire show on BBC Radio Lancashire. With Steve Hanley returning from paternity leave the group was back to a six piece with Rogers moving on to third guitar and performing the bulk of the keyboard duties.

The opening “Kicker Conspiracy” is missing from the live broadcast, as are the closing “Cruisers’s Creek” and “Oh! Brother”, however there are recordings available which include the latter.

Overall an excellent recording and a great performance and with the first plays of “Gut of the Quantifier” and “Spoilt Victorian Child” a good  indication of what would be coming from the group on the next studio album.

Notable for one of the only six performances of the excellent “Stephen Song”

19th June 1985   International, Manchester

On a cramped stage in the new venue (at the time) in south Manchester the group are in fine fettle with – as I recall – Brix tending to dominate. A reasonable audience recording with the vocals a little lost in the overall mix at the beginning but then settling down to create a good overall listen.

My abiding recollection of this gig was the three guitar attack on an amazing version of “Wings” , and the very lengthy version (nearly ten minutes” of “No Bulbs”

The second outing for “Gut of the Quantifier” is very impressive, and similarly the second performance of “Spoilt Victorian Child” is memorable, although Smith is a little out of kilter with the rhythm at times with his phrasing.

“Paintwork” also gets performed for the first time but feels a little lumpen in comparison with the album version. A very fast “Lay of the Land” concludes matters.

Overall a great performance with a good sound.

18th July 1985   Underground, Croydon


19th July 1985   W.O.M.A.D. Festival, Mersea Island, Essex

This survives as a complete video recording. The audio quality is very good apart from an occasional loss of sound.Visuals are from stage right and mostly concentrate on Mark and Brix with the occasional glimpses of the others.

An interesting experience. Notable is Mark prowling the stage, sipping on a can of lager, insulting his drummer and generally having the look of a man in control of his world. Musically it’s generally fine, one or two dodgy notes and some fairly tuneless wailing from Brix on “Disney’s Dream Debased” but here is a band at the zenith of its’ powers.

The highlights include an exceptionally brash “Couldn’t Get Ahead, Craig’s jerky robotic dance as he bashes out the riff for “What you need”, and Brix’s sexy little smile and movement as she plunders the “Smile” riff. Indeed “Smile” itself is a particular tour de force with great dynamics and a great work ethic.

A moment of abiding humour is Mark’s interrogation of the lack of drumming from Karl at the beginning of “Gut of the Quantifier” which like “Smile” before it is delivered with intense power and collective zest. The meshing of three guitars that this band achieved is a wonder to behold.

Jacket back on and some microphone stand twiddling leads to a sultry swinging and mesmeric “Petty Thief Lout” with some exceptional phrasing and exposition from Mark.

The encore break leads to the loss of the first few minutes of “Kicker” which seems particularly thrashy tonight – a lovely turbulent mess of a noise followed by an equally unforgiving charge through “Lay of the Land” – Brix rooted to the spot and moving with the beat, Craig prowling the stage like a caged beast sending out shards of chords.

Probably the best capture of this iteration of the group.

9th September 1985   Markthalle, Hamburg, Germany


10th September 1985   Soxs, Hannover , Germany


11th September 1985   Schlachthof, Bremen, Germany

This survives as a pristine radio capture, the guitars are a tad loud and drown out other instruments in places, but generally a very good recording. One gripe might be that MES is a little  tinny.

Most of This Nations Saving Grace performed  in a live setting and with much more brisk readings of key tracks. If you want to do a forensic analysis of the group live then this is the one to listen to. It is fascinating to hear, for example, the complex interplay between instruments on the slow parts of “Barmy”.

The highlight for me is a superb “Petty Thief Lout” which is a masterful piece of playing

Transmitted by Radio Bremen.

12 September 1985   Luxor, Cologne, Germany


13 September 1985   Zeche, Bochum, Germany


15 September 1985   Batschkapp, Frankfurt, Germany


16 September 1985   Hunky Dory, Detmold, Germany


3 October 1985   Riverside, Newcastle


4 October 1985   Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow


5 October 1985   Victoria Hotel, Aberdeen

There is no known recording of this gig.

7 October 1985   Coasters, Edinburgh


8 October 1985   Sheffield University


9 October 1985   Hacienda, Manchester

Seven tracks from this gig were officially released as part of Live At The Hacienda 1983-1985 (Cherry Red CRDVD67) on 25th October 2004.

10 October 1985   Leeds Polytechnic


12 October 1985   University of East Anglia, Norwich


14 October 1985   Hexagon Theatre, Reading


15th October 1985   Rock City, Nottingham

An very good audience recording exists of this gig.

16th October 1985   Pink Toothbrush, Rayleigh


17 October 1985   Leicester University


19 October 1985   City Hall, St. Albans


20 October 1985   Powerhouse, Birmingham


22 October 1985   Shelley’s, Stoke


23 October 1985   Bournemouth Town Hall


25 October 1985   Bristol University


26 October 1985   Mandela Hall, Sussex University, Brighton


31st October 1985   Klub Krackers, Liverpool

A phenomenal 88 minute plus spectacular – a good audience recording with some limited chatter. The sound is generally great but there is annoying feedback in places, and at times the volume of the band causes a bit of distortion.

Some notables here tonight with the last outing for “Wings” for a long time, and run-outs for “Totally Wired” and “Rowche Rumble”.

Matters commence with a hyperfast “Mansion” on tape which slows down and fades into spoken word and then a collection of violent chords. A stunning version of “Wings” commences things proper. This version of the band, as I have said on more than one occasion, had this song down to its core brilliance, driven by Burns unforgiving drumming.

“Bombast” suffers a little from wow and flutter from the recording and the drums seem to drown out the rest. A laconic “Clear Off!” feels a little restrained amongst all of the other numbers tonight and the over use of cymbals and sharp keyboard tone seems to lose the core of the performance somehow.

Things are rectified with an amazing version of “Gut of the Quantifier” where I think we hear the first outing of Mark singing “Bourgeoise Town” in the intro, a rant about the North West of Nowhere and then a consummate performance with brinkmanship on the tension buildng and release, and chaotic guitar sound taking the sound to somewhere altogether alien. Internal rhythmic turns make this a maelstrom of intense sound,

For technical reasons “I feel Voxish” gets two outings, I assume because the monitors have failed at some point – as MES conducts a period of volume increasing in a self deprecating fashion – at this point on the recording a young lady starts whittering on next to taper. However one should not complain as version2 is somewhat superior to its shorter predecessor. Said female continues to shout unintelligible things which tend to detract from what is an immense wall of sound.

“What you need” is initially, like “Clear Off!” a little lost in the overall intensity of the gig, however Hanley saves the day with the trademark bass twang and the double keyboards add a unique sense of purpose, and as it develops it becomes a relentless festival of repetition.

Unfortunately the good “Dktr” is cut short but is welcome prior to his visit prior to the sharpish end and demonstrates again the power of this iteration of the gruppe in layering the sound into laminal walls of noise.

A strange ultra fast 46 seconds “Paintwork” (I think) precedes “L.A.”, It has the bones of the riff but there is some unintelligible ranting from MES which implies it is something else. Very good reading of the latter which holds together well as the guitars weave riffs around rock steady beat and driving Hanley riffing.

The three guitar line up with Rogers could play some amazing stuff when on full tilt and never more so tonight than on a blistering “Damo” which has complex interweaving lines which slowly collide and collapse into a memorable coda.

A memorably sloppy “Wired” is a mass of unforgiving rhythm, the fact that Brix forgets to drop the beat on the response makes it all a bit power pop, but I’m being churlish, this is wondrous stuff, a thorough going over in fact, probably one of the best versions on record. The Fall at their best.

Matters conclude on a similar high with the ghost of Nervous Norvus chasing MES around the hall in an unforgiving mad dance, for some reason the very clear vocals on the preceding track are lost, one can only assume the taper has moved to the rear of the hall?

Highly recommended – some exceptional performances here despite the aforementioned glitches and noisy adjacent crowd.

9 November 1985   Great Hall, Lancaster University


11 November 1985   Hammersmith Palais, London





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