Saw The Fall on Thursday night. Dave Graney supported. 24 hours earlier it was U2 and Jay Z.
U2 at Suncorp were ok. They new stuff is bland, like everything since Pop. Their classics were brilliant, as much as the atmosphere as the songs. Adam Clayton's posing with tong firmly in cheek was what I expected. Overall they were okay but nothing special. Glad I saw them, but not in the top sets I've seen.
Jay Z had more energy, and his band with its double drum section and real live brass was hot. I only recognised about 4 songs, and I'm not really into his genre, but there was a palpable energy in his performance, like he and his band knew they had to work at it. It was funky, and the only way to get funky on stage is to work damn hard.
Dave Graney was the expected support act to the Fall. The Hi Fi bar is a good venue - smal to medium, with a small enough crowd to let you sit on a step if you wanted. Graney has been on my to see list for years. He was what I expected - a mixture of Soft 'n' Sexy and bland. He didn't play any song I recognised except I recognised the template of every song from the post-major label albums I've heard. I'm glad I saw him, it was a pleasure, even if it wasn't one of the top sets I've seen.
The Fall though. Like Jay Z's band they had energy and they were tight. Unlike Jay Z, Smith didn't speak to the crowd but was just as charismatic by wandering the stage when not singing and turning up the bass amp or hitting the keyboard with his mike. Yet again I only recognised about four of the songs - I've missed the last 3 Fall albums, and frm what I've read Smith pefers to keep to recent material than an endless revisitation of past glories. Full credit to him.
U2 did the same of course, playing a lot of songs from their newest albums, but unlike the Fall, there is a dramatic drop in quality with U2's newer and older material. Also, the Fall's continued momentum and 28 studio albums have meant it is hard to focus on a small number of older songs when so much new material is released every year. U2's scarcity means it's poor quality comes into sharp focus. Their most powerful song on the night was Miss Sarejevo, and I was wondering why they haven't released more side-projects in the intervening years. They deserve to keep releasing new music, but maybe a continual flow of lower profile releases would mean they can properly relax into their musical dottage, rather than releasing high-profile but ever poorer major albums.
U2 are now in the stage of their career as the Eagles and Rolling Stones. The Fall have been a working rock band since the late 70s, who have to continue to release music and to tour to make enough money to live. Maybe that's the difference. Or maybe Bono + The Edge (with Eno etc) just ran out of ideas, while Smith has always had a unique of lyric writing and while working with 60-odd different musicians over the years has kept the music fresh even if not necessarily revolutionary. A friend of mine reckons The Fall have written the same 3 songs for 30 years - if so then it is the differing musicians and dabbling with different technologies over the years have made them sound continually new. The Fall will never be The Eagles or Rolling Stones. There is no expectation of being anything other than what they are. And they are pretty much as they always were. U2 have an expectation based on who they were but can't convince me who they are is anything interesting. I am interested in who they were, and it was great to hear that in the gig, but new U2 I can leave.