The Fall - HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh, Thu 3 Nov 2011 (3 stars)

The Fall - HMV Picturehouse, Edinburgh, Thu 3 Nov 2011

Band deliver fiery performance despite injured and semi-present Mark E Smith

'Mark has a really bad bruise on his feet so he can’t stand, announces keyboardist and better half Eleni Poloui. Cue blasts of effing and blinding from the angry mob.

The Fall are clearly back in town – but unlike their performance at Studio 24 last year, Mark manages to stay on stage for slightly longer – around the five-song mark. Despite a promising on-time kick off with 'Nate Will Not Return' aided with a cheeky grin – he slowly retreats backstage and carries on away from the lights before disappearing entirely.

The band are on fire tonight regardless, thanks to the return of their previous Stateside guitarist Tim Presley. They fill the rest of the set with some pretty intriguing instrumentals, clouded by various harrumphs, taunts and the occasional plastic cup. But then something unexpected happens, a moustached man from the crowd invades the stage (much to the encouragement of Poloui and co.) and carries out a mischievous Smith impression taunting, 'Where was Mark!' repeatedly over the mic before being escorted off by security, winning over the band and certain crowd members.

There’s always something quite delightful about the unexpected live nature of this band. Even after 30 years of polarising opinion and thus losing (and winning) fans in the process, it’s refreshing to know they’re still prodding the same pressure points. Immediately after the invasion, Mark is helped back on stage in his socks and cuts the tension with a blinding rendition of 'Mr Pharmacist'. High drama indeed, but that is to be expected.

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