These two The Fall dvds that Hip Priest has released are another evidence asserting that music dvds are a fan affair. If I’m definitely not a Fall hardcore fan since I do not run after every piece of music the band releases, I guess I’m a Fall fan anyway. That’s why I really appreciate at least one of these dvds.
There is nothing spectacular here, there is no bonus whatsoever but I’m really happy to have volume 1 in my possession because it is a unique document for a Fall fan. There is nothing appealing in the artwork, there is no sleeve, just the gigs: Access All Areas is composed of four discs, each one containing a concert cheaply filmed from the pit. Vol.2 is not as interesting since disc 1 is a concert from 2004 in which the band plays 8 songs from The Real New Fall lp and disc 2 features a similar set list to the two other gigs. The three concerts were filmed during 2002 tour. The only song which appears four times is the inescapable ‘Mr Pharmacist’ which never fails to cause an explosion in the pit.
Considering the four dvds, disc one is the most interesting insofar as it documents Mark E. Smith at his utmost detachment which verges on indifference and disinterest. The man has already proved what he needed to, yet there is something that keeps him going on, there is something which made him and his crew record the insanely addictive The Real New Fall lp, their last album to date and assuredly their best one since 1988. What is sure when you watch these gigs is that he does not show anything from what drives him.
During winter 2003-2004, the seminal Mark E. Smith was injured and subsequently toured with the help of crutches, underlining his deadly singular charisma. Many concert reports mentionned that he had to sing sitting down. In this concert (Punkcast 2004 – disc1), he arrives on stage on crutches, impressively indolent. Then he spents the whole gig sat down next to a round bar table with two microphones and a beer within reach as if he was nonchalantly squintining at passers-by in order to pass the time. His ‘I couldn’t-care-less attitude spoils a couple of songs – he doesn’t bother to rant ‘Theme from Sparta FC’ high on energy chorus for example – but it definitely adds an acid drop of detachment and tension. His motionlessness generates more autistic neurosis than usual when he plays with his mics, as if he was pondering over his indecipherable lyrics without even paying attention to the crowd. He seems harrowed and hagard, looking 15 years older than he actually is, definitely conveying uneasy weariness. His fellow band members help him with the vocals; sometimes he seems to stop singing to check if the others do the job. Remember: He is the Boss. Let’s specify that Smith’s casualness do not decrease the show’s energy because the band is on tenterhooks but it adds a poisonous aspect to the energy and a touch of tension to the atmosphere.
Let’s forget vol.2 but Vol.1 is really appealing although highly superfluous.
-SEB ‘we shouldn’t eat so much frozen food my dear, it’s not healthy’ WOOd.
/dec 15th 2004/