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20101213 - Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand

Mark E. Smith
Elena Poulou
Pete Greenway
Dave Spurr
Keiron Melling

Review of gig by "Adam Nuisance"

Got early morning flight to Auckland with besuited businessmen. Jo, fellow Chch Fall fan, had received correspondence from a bloke called Gary who was also gonna be at the gig and we thought might be on the same flight as us. Kept an eye out for him as we waited for the plane. Identified a couple of possibilities. Stewardesses: Tara, Cara and Lara. Catch bus into town. One of possible-Garys does the same. As we're heading inwards, Jo spots the venue and says audibly, "Oh look - the Powerstation". Possible-Gary does not react.

Did various bits until late afternoon, then headed venue-wards . Get to 1st hostelry (the one mentioned in the Facebook event invitation) ridiculously early. Pub empty apart from one bloke, who happens to be wearing a "Sparta FC #2" T-shirt. It turns out to be Gary, who flew on a later plane than we did. Engage in various Fall-related conversations before moving to another pub, just over the road from the venue. Also meet up with a couple of other people there, inc Dave from Melbourne who is going to tape the gig and has supplied top-quality recordings of the previous Oz dates. I thank him for his sterling efforts. He shows us how he attaches the microphones his glasses in order to record the gig.

Pub getting v busy circa 8pm. Decide to go to venue early in order to get a good stage-front spot. Grab such a position as the support band, Street Chant, strike their first notes. They make a good racket and are obviously thrilled to be there. 2 lasses on guitar and bass, energetic lad drummer. Then 40 minutes of Safi. Erk! As he strikes up, notice the Fall group exit the dressing room and leave the venue. Am in textal contact w/legendary Fallnetter Steve Dean, who gets to the pub we were at just after we leave. Receive message that reads (and I quote) "Mes is in t pub wv us.". Bah! Gutted.

Jo's never seen Safi before and I have trouble prior to the gig describing what he does. He is great for short bursts (say, 2 minutes) but a long-haul is just excruciating. One trick pony, dull, etc. Much abusive heckling from the Kiwi audience. I'm assuming that he's used to it by now and can quite see why MES puts him on beforehand. Think Jo didn't like him much, either.

Group play for approx 80 minutes. There are a plethora of reviews of the gruppe's performance upon the Net. Herewith a few mental notes I made from the gig:

- Elena carries her keyboard on. Not the usual lumpy Moog but some tiny grey box. It doesn't work to start off with - much consternation as the rest of the band starts playing and she's still trying to connect a working power lead. Harsh words with venue sound bloke.

- The usual great shiver-up-spine moment when MES wanders on.

- Many gesticulations to the sound both throughout the set - especially in the encore - to turn MES' vocals up.

- Group playing hard, but seemingly relaxed. Quite a few smiles, even from Peter on the far side of the stage. Elena ever-present at the centre of the group's performance throughout.

- A multitude of the usual knob-twiddling/mic entangling/microphone into bass drum antics.

- MES seemed to be more incoherent than previous gigs I've been at. Shaky on his feet, too.

- MES got Dave to sing a line from one of the songs. Can't remember which.

- One amp stage-right starts to gently smoke about halfway through, causing a couple of worried looks from Dave & Elena. Venue bloke turns it down. MES turns it back up a few minutes later.

- MES wanders off to the dressing room at one point, only to almost immediately reappear to sit at the side of the stage, drumstick in hand, tapping out the beat. He had an immense toothless grin.

- Safi acts as roadie several times as no-one from the venue would venture out onto the stage and attempt to unravel the chaos of mic leads and stands.

- Elena pulls MES back from the front of the stage when he was leaning forward by grabbing the back of his trousers on several occasions. Every time he wanders over to her side of the stage, she prepares to grab him. He grins at her several times.

- Microphone is thrown into the crowd at least twice. Elena encouraging punters to sing along. Whoever did the duty in "Reformation" wasn't bad.

- The best video I recorded was of MES doing his keyboard mangling-exercise during "Reformation" (with Elena doing vox whilst crouched down). Unrtunately, it has corrupted and won't upload to YouTube.

- As MES wanders off during the last number, members of the support band creep into the dressing room with a copy of "Grotesque" to him to sign. They are rapidly ejected - running! - mere seconds afterwards.

In all: excellent. Up there with the Exeter gig I saw last year, if not better. Never really understood "Reformation" as a recorded entity but it is immensely hypnotic in a live context, I've found.

Met up with various Fallnet luminaries afterwards - Steve Dean, Conway, Alan Hamilton (wearing a v cool Fallnet T-shirt). And Steve's mum, who he also brought to the gig! She seemed to enjoy it. All too brief, really. Only thought of doing a group photo after the occasion, sadly.

Chuffed that Jo got to see the group play live, after some 20 or so years of waiting.

Wandered back to digs after milling around outside for a while afterwards - felt about 20 degrees C at midnight. Hot & sticky night.

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