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Electric Picnic 2010 - The Fall

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ATL | 22:44 UK time, Sunday, 5 September 2010

Crosby Stage, Sunday 5th September, 9.15pm

Describe in a tweet: Business as usual for the Mancunian warhorses.

What happened: It used to be that the Fall were a dangerous, mercurial prospect, pushing the boundaries of what could be expected from a "rock" band. Over thirty years later, The Fall are a very different prospect, with Mark E Smith's once notorious behaviour now very much in the "predictable" camp. Turning the amps up and down to his own personal preference, tinkering with the drumkit, removing microphones from the other members of the band...it's all been done before.

And the frustrating thing is that it really detracts from the whole experience of seeing the Fall. The current lineup are a streamlined rock machine, fully living up to Smith's repetitive Krautrock fantasies. But every time they hit their stride, Smith's 'antics' completely puncture the mood created by the band. Just as they start to get locked in to their groove, he'll wander around the stage with his hands in his pockets, gurning, or turning his back on the crowd as if in some kind of attempt to keep all the attention focussed on him rather than the band. And this attention-seeking behaviour keeps it rooted purely as a spectacle, rather than as a performance by a decent rock band.

As it goes on, you start to wonder why Smith even bothers with this in the first place. If he's as bored by everything as he looks, why doesn't he just do something else? If he can't be bothered making any effort at verbally interacting with the audience (most of his "vocals" consist of unitelligable mumbles and yelps...we're pretty sure we heard the phrase "West Germany", but we can't be sure) then why doens't he just stop?

As the Fall sink further and further into parody, perhaps it's time for Mark E Smith to completely re-assess what the concept of the band is. After all, as we face a situation where people will queue up to see this car crash of a performance, regardless of what actually happens, would it not be true to say that the Fall now represent the very orthodoxy and herd mentality they were intitially set up to rage against?

At the moment, if Mark E Smith had an answer, it might be difficult to understand what it is.

Electric Dreams: Er...

Ants at my Picnic: At one point, Mark E Smith is reading the lyrics from a sheet of paper using a magnifying glass. GET SOME GLASSES, LAD!

EP Rating: The Fall: 7/10.  Mark E Smith: 0/10.

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