Ahead of the band’s visit to Cork later this month, John O’Leary, founder of Freakscene, recounts the time he booked The Fall to play Sir Henry’s
Somewhere in some pub in Cork, someone will bemoan the fact that quality relevant bands don’t come to Cork. I can relate to that sentiment because I was that soldier. Unlike some of my fellow comrades I was better positioned to actually do something about it, so when I got a chance to bring The Fall to Cork I jumped at it.
It was a no-brainer, one of the most iconic bands to come out of Britain, Mark E.Smith was a living legend! I was a bit naive and they were not cheap, the band rider alone was a few hundred pounds. I was innocent enough to take it seriously, I even contacted them about the really expensive champagne they had specified, I got a concession on that, no flies on me eh?
Myself and Paul McDermott (my chief advisor at the time) had the duty of meeting Mark at the venue, Sir Henry’s, and taking him off to meet the late Uaneen Fitzsimons for a No Disco interview in RTE. On the way, Mark stopped to talk to Tommy and Rusty, one of Cork’s drinkers who is most noted for the fact that he is always accompanied by a sheep dog, often seen leaving off-licences together, Tommy with his drink and the dog with a bag of Taytos in its mouth. Mark had a brief chat with Tommy, gave him a few bob and on we went. I was impressed by the humanity of the man and a little relieved that there was a soft side to him as he is famous for his ability to cut you down in a nanosecond with a biting sarcastic remark.
He was in foul form that night, he stormed off the stage about nine times, slamming his live mic onto the ground each time, but the bits in-between the storming off bits were fantastic!! The next day the guitarist was kicked out of the band on the way to Belfast, I mean literally, the bus was stopped mid-journey and he was kicked out. For shame I can’t remember his name because I had gone drinking with him after the gig. All I can remember is that he was Scottish, he had a mini-strobe light, a toy mini-alien and a tiny keyboard on which he pretended to play. My girlfriend at the time (now wife, Aisling Byron) had a dance-off with him, it was Irish jigs and reels vs Scottish traditional dancing to this fabulous music performed by the alien. He sneaked us up to Mark E. Smith’s bedroom and standing at the doorway pointed at him unconscious in his bed declaring “there he is, the legendary Mark E. Smith”, so yes there was tension in the band that night!
Mark E Smith also sensed there was tension between me and the club owners at the time and pulled me aside to ask was everything alright – it was, but again I was impressed that he even cared. I lost £1,900 on that gig, there were about 300 people there with only about 12 people under the age of 30, so I no longer ask why don’t more credible bands come to Cork, instead I prefer to praise those that still do bring bands to Cork. I have no regrets, we brought an iconic act to Cork and we have the boasting rights forever and not a bad tale to tell either.
The Fall play The Pavilion, Cork, July 21st, w/ Trumpets of Jericho & Wasps VS Humans