Entertainment, Manchester, Review

Review: Mammoth All Dayer at Arts Club Liverpool

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By William Morris

Image: Club The Mammoth

The discordant punk ramblings of Mark E. Smith and The Fall (originally from Salford, Manchester) recently came to the Arts Club, Liverpool, attracting a crowd of diverse ages, yet not so diverse style.

The venue, a Victorian building previously owned by the Royal Institute of Arts & Science that now frequently hosts alternative music of varying forms, is a small and low-scale venue offering a tightly-knit and inclusive gig experience. There will be no idol worshipping of the people behind the music when the stage is hardly above knee level and when the acts are so close to the audience that you can almost smell them. It has become somewhat of an adage that frequenters of punk and alternative music prefer small venues because it displaces the separation of audience and musician and makes it almost impossible to view the act as some sort of commodified demi-God on a 10 foot all-encompassing stage playing to the lowly mass of fans.

The gig was an all day rout of punk and rock bands with the likes of Eagulls, Hookworms, Cabbage and Goat Girl, among others. With two stages of bands playing at parallel times it was impossible to witness everything. Catching the end of Goat Girl, followed by Eagulls, and then Cabbage, and lastly The Fall was my route.

Eagulls played their swirl of tunes, accompanied, in between songs, by vocalist George Mitchell’s microphone pressed against his tape machine. The tape deck was putting out a miscellaneous airy jangle of electronic whirls that created an ethereal atmosphere, drawing in the crowd into semblance with the band. The band’s rather unique sound reminds me of the darker side of The Smiths mixed with a post-punk drive. Imagine ‘How Soon is Now’ mixed with Joy Division and Shoegaze, accompanied by tense and resonate vocals.

Mitchell’s peculiar dance, that was more akin to a swayed rocking, embodied the band’s sound. In between vocal duties, he took alternating swigs from his bottle of red and bottle of water. And in fact he was the only one in the band that didn’t have the look of an accountant or PhD student, as one of my friends put it. Eagulls are one of the most underrated bands of the moment; they have a distinct style that amalgamates previous styles into their own atmosphere.

After this, on the upstairs stage, Manchester band Cabbage played through their most renowned tracks to a frenzied crowd of moshers. As they walked on stage, they immediately went into their discordant post-punk that is reminiscent of other similar acts but, at the same time, not quite like anything else. Their idiosyncratic style comes from their explicitly directed political lyrics and the chaos-inducing hectic stage antics. Primary vocalist Lee Broadbent came on stage in a huge black coat with the hood pulled over his head, akin to some strange alternative sith lord. Vocal duties for the first song were given to Joe Martin but Lee took this opportunity to remove his coat, as the song moved forward, and then his jumper.

At a previous gig, Cabbage have been known to bring on a leashed man in a gimp suit in some strange homoerotic gesture. Similarly, stripping completely down to their naked bodies is not unusual for the band, although Lee didn’t go that far this time. Instead what happened was endless stage diving from Lee, popping back up on stage when vocals were necessary and, at one point, he climbed the scaffolding on the side of the stage and held onto it with one hand and microphone in the other, singing his lines to a boisterous crowd. I’m sure the rest of the band would have followed suit but were encumbered by their instruments; that’s not to say that there was a lack of movement from the rest of them.

After an interlude of X-Ray Spexs, Dead Kennedys, Ty Segall, Minor Threat and The Stooges from the DJ, The Fall, minus Mark E. Smith, came on-stage and began to operate their instruments into that very unique Fall sound. Mark E. Smith’s lyrical ramblings were heard through the speakers and, after a few minutes, he came out from behind the curtain to cheers from the audience. Smith, seemingly as drunk as ever, joined the band to go through their newer releases. None of their pre-noughties songs were heard but the crowd didn’t seem to much care, although one or two old songs wouldn’t have hurt.

Smith, as always, could be seen messing around with his band’s instruments, changing sound levels on amplifiers and messing with microphones, or as some would call it ‘live mixing’. Perhaps an earlier edition of The Fall would have got annoyed, but the current band are well past that. Or indeed perhaps any future career prospects outside of The Fall –if old band members are anything to go by. Throughout the set, Smith’s penetrating glare was fixed on the audience and, at one point, I thought he was challenging me to a staring competition and of course, he won. According to the man himself, he has a look that can make people cross the street.

Although Smith is known to rule his band like an iron fisted dictator, often making impromptu firings, this Fall have been relatively consistent for the past few years and their sound is noticeably improving compared to some rather lacklustre Fall albums just a decade ago. Smith had an arpeggiator synth set up beside him and near the end of their set he sent out a cacophony of sound to accompany the discordant rhythms of the band. At times it’s hard to tell whether Smith is an incoherent rambling lunatic or a lyrical genius, but that is the nature of the band’s sound and indeed Smith’s personality. They ended their set by leaving one at time, drummer first and then Smith, while the bass and guitar droned on for a few minutes until it was just one lonely guitar and then it was over. The Fall’s live performance was as good as ever and they are definitely worth checking out, even if it’s impossible to decipher most of the lyrics if you don’t know them.

The Mammoth All Dayer was organised by Club The Mammoth. For more information about future events, visit their Facebook page. For more information about upcoming gigs at Arts Club Liverpool, visit the venue website.

William Morris is currently in his third year studying English. When not reading or keeping up with politics, he enjoys listening to music and playing guitar. Akin to other students in Manchester, he likes to spend weekend evenings in local pubs and music venues and is always on the search for more music to listen to.

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