The Fall, There’s Someone in the Pond, Dingus Khan at Norwich Waterfront, 15 May 2013, and Balaclava Kid and Dad at Norwich Arts Centre, Live Happenings NNF13, 15 May, 2013.
What a special line up of bands in Norwich on a midweek, unseasonal spring evening. Having seen The Fall about six months ago at Epic for the John Peel Sound & Vision Festival, after a gap of quite a few years, it was a great pleasure to see them back in the city again so soon, on part of their Re-Mit tour.
Like at their last visit they were once again supported by Dingus Khan. I’m afraid I involuntarily groaned inwardly when I saw their name on the bill, quite unfairly I think. I just feel this is a band not to be seen too frequently and this would be the third time of seeing them in those six months. To their credit though they really won me over again, I thought they could fall into the category of unusual act with a novelty value that soon wears off but they did OK and I think they also won over the majority of the audience too. For anyone who hasn’t seen or heard them before this group from the badlands of Manningtree make quite a cacophony, all dressed in white boiler suits, apart from the singer who appears to wear a blue velvet dress, they have three bassists and three drummers with a lead singer who is quite the showman, he seemed very eager to jump into the audience … somewhat ironic given he would later climb from the audience to the stage during The Fall’s set. More on that later.
The following act was the oddly named local act There’s Someone in the Pond. These bass-heavy noise merchants are a trio dressed all in black and red De Stijl-era White Stripes had me thinking of an offspring visceral racket of The White Stripes and Gang of Four, influenced by the care of the Au Pairs at the home of The Cramps! It had a bit of an 80s indie vibe to it, possibly heightened by the 80s dinginess of the venue but mixed with a generous helping of 60s scuzzy garageness too. It’s the first time I have seen this band, Tom on guitar and vocals, Fliss (formerly of Violet Violet) on drums, and Jack on bass – I would certainly like to hear them again.
And so onto the unique band that are The Fall. Having seen them countless times over about thirty years, I cannot recall ever seeing them play with the same line-up twice, so this was a first and real uncharted waters. It’s a good decision to stick with the band, they are tight and very powerful but also retaining that looseness that is part of The Fall’s appeal. Mark E. Smith, when he finally came on stage was in fine form, clearly well-lubricated he was prowling the stage, looking down his nose at the audience in the way that only he would be able to get away with, and fiddling about with the monitors. It was a blistering set, occasionally MES would bark into two microphones, grabbing mics from all over the stage and misplacing them, and sang the entirety of one song sat at the back of the stage behind the monitors.
Closing the set, of about an hour or so, with Strychnine and Theme From Sparta FC the audience howled and begged and demanded more. Finally, the band did return to the stage, minus Smith, and let the audience sing along, eventually a couple of members of Dingus Khan rather enthusiastically and very drunkenly got onto the stage and larked about, before finally being wrestled off by security. At that point the previously smiling Elena walked off and the band finished. It was not a sour note but a typically shambolic way to finish a Fall gig and another reason to remember it well but I don’t think Dingus Khan are doing themselves any favours with these antics. A very fine gig indeed, not quite up there with the Epic gig last year which was absolutely magnificent, but it isn’t far behind. The band seemed to be enjoying themselves, as much as they ever allow such things to show anyway.
After this I just had time to make my way to the other side of the city for the Arts Centre late night sessions for the Festival. It was packed and really difficult to get in, as they were at capacity and had a strict one out, one in policy. Thankfully I eventually succeeded, just in time to catch Balaclava Kid and Dad perform the new song jam upstairs at the bar mezzanine at about 11.40pm. BK & Dad have rapidly become one of my very favourite Norwich bands. This duo perform a sonic cacophony of noise like no other band I can think of. Leo, looking every inch the guitar rock god, tall, all in black and with a huge mop of hair he gets the most amazing sounds from his guitar with incredible use of pedals and loops, and of course great talent, coupled with some amazing and powerful drumming. It was only a 15 minute set but it left an indelible impression. Incredible and unique band.
It was lovely to round off the evening here. Although most of the gigs I have seen at the Waterfront have been really good there is something about the main hall of the venue I don’t like very much, I much prefer the studio upstairs. The NAC seemed really welcoming with familiar faces everywhere so it was nice to chat and catch up with lots of friends in this fine atmosphere.
It’s odd to think that the previous evening was spent in the confines of the Theatre Royal listening to the pure and emotional voice of Mariza and her band, the contrast could not have been greater!
review and photos by richard shashamane (c) 2013