“If you’re in the business of the pursuit of novelty then you’re limited .
‘Mark E Smith’.
The following is an excerpt from my chapter on Mark E Smith from my (work in progress)
book titled 'Bathing Whiskey' It was 2002.....
The gig was at ‘The Electric Ballroom’ in Camden. Getting out of the ‘tube’ I was hounded by street dealers, a constant tirade “ you want Skunk?…Coke ?..Crack?”
‘No I’m alright thanks..’ I was meeting a friend outside the door. A real grumpy northern bastard. Perfect company. No sign of him. I call him. He’s still in his bar and by the sound of his voice he’s completely bombed. Great.. I tell him I’ll meet him inside. When I get my pass I find there’s a problem. There is no plus one, so I plead in order to get a concession for my wasted friend. Inside it’s relatively empty and the average age is old.
I’d never been to the famous ‘Ballroom’ before … looks like they let it rest on it’s past glories .. fuck’n tip .. The support band are on and I’m upstairs watching from a distance. Finally my arrogant mate shows.. sure he’s bombed alright and he ain’t got a nice thing to say about anything… His entrance begins with ‘arrrh Gerald fucking Jenkins the famous twat..can’t even get his mate into a Fall gig for free! Six quid I had to pay! ‘I tell him to shut up and calm down..’ look I’ll pay the fuck’n ticket and here money! Go and get some beers.’He’s not letting off though he’s so wasted he thinks he’s real clever going on and on about the fact he actually had to pay something to get in.
The show is fairly uncomfortable for many reasons.. Mark E’s malevolent posturing disinterest, compounded by my interpretation that the crowd all seemed fried and my companions constant jibber about the glory days and how they could never be matched for intensity, guile and err you know.. ‘The Golden Age’… He’s in my ear about his ex girlfriend who was at the last ever Joy Division gig blah.. Suddenly it picks up and Mr. Pharmacist is played. For the first time I am certain I am in the right place.. As John Peel has stated ‘You don’t know what you’re going to get . You might decide it’s not what you wanted but they’re The Fall it’s what you need!’
Yeah I’m happy alright, watching Mark up there being an awkward git, my friend being critical of everything. The world is crap… Fuck’n celebrate!
The energy in the band dissipates again and it goes into some sort of murky raw sound with funny singing over the top. Thankfully my friend seems to be coming down and manages to go to the bar and bring back beer. He hands me my can and tells me about how twenty years ago he was a massive Fall fan and would travel all over to see them, how he saw them here in the ‘Ballroom’ supported by The Smiths and half knew Karl Burns (Fall Drummer) .He had played bouncy tennis atari all night on drugs with him at some hotel in Lancaster Gate sometime in 1985 while Nick Cave flitted in and out of the room snorting offerings . I find this dead interesting as Karl must be the most sacked drummer in the history of a band. His Fall membership reads as –May’77 to Dec’78 split ,Oct’81 to Jun’86 split ,Jan’93 to Dec’96 split ,May ’97 to Apr’98 where the infamous onstage bust-up occurred in New York-Karl pushing Mark offstage, Mark pulling Karl’s kit apart and hurling abuse at him over the P. A . while the audience jeered the whole pathetic scene. Mark has been quoted as saying it is the best thing that ever happened to the band, they were all just old gits like him that were crap. My friends enthusiasm for tonight’s performance peaks as ‘The Classical ‘ from ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ is played, he looks at me and says this is brilliant ! (see attached lyrics) .