Recently embarking on a European tour, post-punk band The Fall played The Tramshed, Cardiff on the 3rd of February. Having arrived to the venue and greeted by the feedback harking from Kohhei Matsuda’s amp, guitarist for Jap Rock band, Bo Ningen unbeknownst to me that the support act would be the highlight of the night.
As Bo Ningen progressed through a set of 3 songs, all 10 minutes and undecipherable to the ear, just as punk should be, Fall fans half heartedly responded with despondent heckles and jeers. Albeit, the mood swiftly changed as frontman Taigen Kawabe immersed himself in the crowd, scaling the steel barriers and demonstrating some serious behind the head guitar playing whilst the strobe lighting engulfed the entire venue.
Having experienced mild heart palpitations from a lethal mixture of guitar feedback and strobe lighting, Bo Ningen swiftly ended their set to the response of cheers and whistles from the now prepared Fall fans. Slightly detracting from their rock and roll status, Bo Ningen were left unaided by the road crew to de-assemble their own equipment as the crowd looked on.
Originally planning to arrive onstage at 9:30pm, Mark E Smith decided to push forward the set time to 10:00pm, having firstly questioned this, I soon realised that Mancunian born Mark is notorious for having at best a callous attitude. Later, press were warned by one of many sound engineers that Mark had been drinking for “hours on end” clearly undeterred by the impending performance and that we were to back away slowly if he inched closer.
When Mark did arrive with fellow band members, Pete Greenway, Dave Spurr and Keiron Melling he showed virtually no immediate signs of being completely inebriated, besides a visible stain running down his trouser leg. Clearly un-phased, Mark E Smith proceeded to carry out his on stage antics, turning down all the amps, dragging mics across the stage and even whipping out a synth solo.
“Manchester has produced many men of this kind, Hard men with hard livers; faces like un-made beds,” sings Mark E Smith. The setlist merged both new and old songs, including their most recent release, “Wise Ol’ Man”, but despite the ingenious lyrics and cult status of The Fall, the performance was amateurish, with the band failing to engage with the audience.
Manon Williams is a photographer and writer – all photos by the author.