A Guardian Book of the Year
A Rough Trade Book of the Year
Reader’s Digest Editor’s Choice
A Dagsavisen Book of the Year
NME Book of the Year nomination
Penderyn Whisky Music Book of the Year Shortlist

‘If (Mark E) Smith was the group’s jabbing index finger, (Steve) Hanley was its heart. Hanley’s voice in this memoir of his two decades in The Fall is as guileless and coolly measured as I would have imagined from his bass playing, even when he’s describing the most chaotic and unpleasant scenarios – of which, unsurprisingly considering Smith’s central role in the narrative, there’s plenty… Hanley and cowriter Olivia Piekarski adopt a weightless present tense style that underlines the book’s major (unwritten, though obvious) caveat – though unflinching in its detail, there are no retrospective judgements or recriminations here. What’s past is past. The present tense approach also highlights Hanley’s sense of bemusement as events unfold around him… The Big Midweek is as vivid and true a picture of band life as I’ve read since James Young’s Nico, Songs They Never Play on the Radio, a similarly candid account.’
– The Wire

‘There’s a certain doggedness required to play the bass: a sonic obligation to carry the weight of others while keeping things together. It’s no surprise, then, that the recent biography from Steve Hanley, The Fall’s bass guitarist from 1979–1998, exudes a robust stability. Written in concert with Olivia Piekarski, Hanley’s book peeks behind the curtain of one of the most volatile bands of the last 50 years, yet manages to do so without descending into a diatribe against the spectacularly cantankerous front man, Mark Edward Smith. Consequently, The Big Midweek provides a captivating portrayal of an iconic band’s rise to fame from the perspective of a steadfast insider. Hanley’s ability to walk the reader through bedlam while sustaining objective distance is commendable, lending the text credibility in a genre that too often collapses into egocentrism, nostalgia, and retribution. One of the more sincere and endearing band biographies available, Hanley’s book is enjoyable to read from start to finish, striving to maintain a solid rhythm throughout — the foremost quality of a great bass player.’
– Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Hanley has ditched common rock memoir histrionics in favour of a deadpan tone that recalls a bass-wielding Alan Bennett. The Big Midweek is a vivid and sensitive testament to an enthralling (anti-) musical family and the glorious chaos they can rightly call their own.’
– Austin Collings, New Statesman

The ultimate insider’s account of the first (and arguably richer) half of Fall history. Hanley is not only a gifted and tireless bass player—he’s also a pretty level-headed guy with an inexhaustible supply of goodwill, the patience of Job, an excellent memory, and a gift for storytelling. The book is loaded with quotes and often reads more like a novel than a memoir. Hanley begins by colorfully describing the mid-’70s music scene in Manchester. He then goes on to document all the comings, goings, hilarious anecdotes, and violent tantrums in vivid detail.
Mark Fleischmann, Sound and Vision

‘Whether you are a fan of the band or not, this is a fantastic rock’n’roll memoir. A wonderful reminder of what it once meant to be in a genuinely dangerous and groundbreaking group.’
– The Idler, Book of the Week

‘A gripping, hilarious, uncomfortable and sobering read. 9/10.’
– Vive Le Rock

‘Genuinely brilliant. Utterly essential for The Fall fan in your life. The book has such a great tone. Genius idea to use present tense throughout, you feel like you’ve been in the Fall 20 years by the end.’
– John Niven

‘Fabulous, loving and indispensable book.’
– Kevin Sampson

‘One of the best books I’ve read by a rock musician ever.’
– Dave Simpson, author of The Fallen

‘Juicy details are plentiful, laying flesh on the bones of some of the great unanswered questions about The Fall.’
Manchester Evening News

‘Steve’s framed the book as a voyage of self-discovery, but it doesn’t read as some forced feel-my-pain confessional or rock biog cliché. [The book] is calm, free of hysteria, and avoids self-conscious literary flourishes in favour of the kind of measured, effortless sounding tone that actually takes a lot of thought and effort to achieve.’
– Stewart Lee

‘Hanley’s memories of the 19 years he spent in the band mercifully never veer into either idolising Mark E Smith or badmouthing him. Smith described Hanley as “The Fall sound” but, after reading The Big Midweek, the group’s history and the vision of its single-minded leader thankfully remains intact and mysterious. Throughout, there’s hitherto-unimagined foreign travel, hero-meeting, studio fall-outs and shrewd, down-to-earth comments from Hanley’s father. Anyone who’s been in a band will identify with 90 per cent of this book.’
– Record Collector

‘A brilliantly written account of what is was like to be in the middle of the mini maelstrom of the Fall but also what it was really like to be caught up in the punk time-bomb and beyond.’
– Louder Than War

‘Atypical though The Fall may be, as an eye-opening account of the songwriting process and the claustrophobia of the tour bus, this is a must for all music fans. It’s also a source of insight into why, despite bust-ups, cigarettes flicked into eyes, and nightmarish recording sessions, anyone would dream of staying in a band years after the fun has stopped.’
– Editor’s Choice, Reader’s Digest

‘A frightful, fascinating, mercilessly revealing and yet deeply respectful report from 20 years in the band. One of the best books of its kind, and Olivia Piekarski deserves an international prize for best ghost writer.’
– Dagsavisen (Book of the Year)

‘Hanley largely avoids rumour and relies on firsthand accounts, and most helpfully adds personality to the largely serious faces that adorned the records over the years. An indie band that never made it big, nor brought in flourishes of cash, is a hard thing to trudge through for nineteen years but if you’re paying attention it was the music, both in the book or outside it through the timeline of albums, that you can understand what made Hanley last so long. God bless Steve Hanley for every one of those years.’
– Over The Ocean

‘A teenage Mott fanatic, I should imagine (Hanley) is familiar with Ian Hunter’s Diary Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star; I’d hope he would appreciate that The Big Midweek is more than its equal for wit, demystification and quiet pride in the job done. Saluté Shanley! A must-read.’
– We Are Cult

‘A wonderful book and very funny indeed. It’s not only the best and most entertaining book about The Fall, but among the best music books I’ve read.’
– The Fall Online

‘This book has been meticulously crafted to provide real insight into The Fall… an amusing, poignant, candid and sometimes uncomfortable recollection. You don’t have to like The Fall to enjoy this book, you don’t even really need to like MUSIC to enjoy this book! It’s a gripping tale of forged and broken relationships, friendship and betrayal.’
– Marc Riley

‘A long and detailed account of exactly what it was like to live ‘inside’ the indie-rock institution that John Peel famously enshrined as ‘the mighty Fall’. ‘Inside’ is a telling preposition for Hanley’s and Piekarski’s subtitle, for The Fall during Hanley’s 19-year stretch was often more like a cult than like a pop group, even a wilfully uncommercial one. Mainly this was because of the personality of Mark Edward Smith, one of the more obtuse characters to emerge from the nexus of northern punk. Hanley seems to have endured years of unpleasantness at Smith’s hands because the only viable alternative was working in his own dad’s pie shop. ‘The only reason we’re not fighting back is because we love being in the band,’ Hanley writes in the present tense that makes the book so gripping. Not because of Smith: ‘In spite of him.’ Later, with grim persistence, he asks: ‘Why should I pack it all in just because of him?’ ‘You Englishmen with your stiff upper lip…’, Brix Salenger remarks after joining The Fall and before marrying Smith. The Big Midweek is the upper lip loosening, especially when Hanley writes sweetly of the stresses of juggling the band with young children – evidence that even laconic bass players have feelings.‘
– The Guardian

‘Very well written with more than a few laugh-out-loud moments and miles better than your average rock memoir.’
– Brooklyn Vegan

‘The most enlightening of all The Fall books to date.’
– The Lions Share

‘Most of the stuff I read goes way back. Although I just read a book about The Fall, which is REALLY good – Steve Hanley’s The Big Midweek, but that’s a rare foray into the 21st century for me.’
– Vic Godard

‘Exquisitely details Smith’s tyranny as a bandleader.’
– Washington Post

‘Books about life in indie bands are plentiful, but the good ones don’t take up too much shelf space. So a new memoir by bass player Steve Hanley, who spent almost 20 years in The Fall, along with partner Olivia Piekarski, easily grabs the laurels – and you don’t need to like or even particularly know The Fall to enjoy it. The Big Midweek is unsparing, but remarkably free from bitterness, and it’s great on the details. It’s as well written as any rock and roll memoir.’
– The Register

‘Cripes! I’ve got several books on the go right now (including Iain M Banks, Carl Sagan, Arthur C Clarke and David Stubbs’ book on Krautrock) but THIS has eclipsed them all. Of all the books on The Fall, this captures the heart of the thing just as Mr Hanley’s superlative bass playing once defined the heart of the band over several classic incarnations and immortal albums. Of all books on MUSIC, this takes is place alongside the best by dint of its resolute honesty, humility and solid honest to goodness craft; it’s up there with Deke Leonard’s book on The Manband for definitive insider illumination. Even if you’ve never heard of The Fall or Mark E. Smith, buy this book for a heart warming human journey into the life-lessordinariness of exceptional musicianship replete with host of great characters, and told with a keen eye for detail and an unassuming inspirational modesty that characterises his playing.’
– Sedayne, Amazon

‘Steve Hanley has seen one of British music’s most perplexing and brilliant institutions from the inside and lived to tell the tale. This is the absorbing, eye-popping, hilarious story of growing up in the feverish heart of The Mighty Fall.’
– Stuart Maconie

‘All the reasons why you should never join a band but also why it’s impossible not to. Bless them for going through it so the rest of us mere mortals can enjoy the greatness that is The Fall.’
– Jim Glennie

‘The Big Midweek is an honest, disturbing and at times hilarious look into the inner workings of a groundbreaking band. How ironic that the quietest member of The Fall, the silent, stoic, dependable beating heart and ‘engine room’ of the band, was the first member to open up about one of the most influential and under-appreciated bands to ever come out of England. I loved working with Steve – he was my rock for all the years I played in The Fall, but I never knew what he was thinking. That’s why this book is such a gift for me.’
– Brix Smith Start


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