An extract from You Must Get Them All: a brief overview of The Fall's gig at Blackburn in September 2002, Eleni Poulou's debut performance with the group.
A notable gig took place on 22nd September at King George’s Hall, Blackburn. Not only would this performance go on to be released as a DVD and, in varying forms, on no less than three live albums (see Appendix 3), it saw the debut of two new keyboard players. Most significant was Eleni’s first appearance as group member, the beginning of a 14-year stint, but in addition Ruth Daniel joined Nick Dewey in the ‘in-The-Fall-for-one-day’ club. Daniel was invited to play after performing with her band Earl in Manchester.
At the end of the gig he asked me if I would be interested in playing some keys for The Fall. I said ‘I’d love to,’ but didn’t really think it would go anywhere. I rehearsed with the band (minus Mark) in Sankeys and learnt all the songs in one rehearsal. Then I was rushed out of the building when Mark arrived. This was because his girlfriend was also playing keys for the band and I gather that the manager hadn’t told Mark that I was playing. So, I turned up at the gig, still unsure whether I would be playing that night or whether Mark would fire me, before even really hiring me! But it all worked out fine, I played the gig and loved it. It was a top laugh.
The ‘he’ that Daniel presumed was the manager was, of course, Ed Blaney, who – six months after his resignation and estrangement from MES – was once more involved in the group’s affairs.
The Blackburn gig was filmed and released on DVD as A Touch Sensitive. Presumably because of the filming, it was a lengthy performance (around two hours) and the group resurrected several oldies. They were in raucous form, but on the older songs they sound a little ‘rocky’ and one-dimensional. Although they make a decent fist of ‘Mere Pseud Mag. Ed.’, ‘The Classical’ lacks subtlety and suffers – despite Milner’s best efforts – from not having two drummers. Ruth Daniels acquits herself well in her sporadic appearances. Eleni doesn’t appear until ‘The Classical’, to which she adds some jarring keyboards. Steve Evets makes a bizarre appearance during ‘Touch Sensitive’. Fag and can of lager in hand, he starts off by yelling ‘buy the car’ before proceeding to drown Smith out by shouting out random song titles. He does, to be fair, make a more successful contribution to ‘Big New Prinz’ before Smith ushers him off stage. Ed Blaney also pops up to sing the first part of ‘I Wake Up In The City’. Throughout, Smith seems relatively sober, sings with focus and behaves himself, although he spends a lot of time squatting by the drum riser, rifling through his lyric sheets. He also unplugs Pritchard’s guitar during ‘Free Range’. ‘Hit The North’ makes for a shambolic finale, featuring both keyboard players performing together plus Blaney and Evets taking a drumstick each to the drum kit as Milner ploughs on determinedly.