The Smiths Newcastle Mayfair 17th July 1986
This was the last time I saw the Smiths, and is also the concert which I remember the least, in terms of their performance. What I do remember is that the gig was quite violent, with a lot of heckles and some trouble in the crowd on the ballroom flood. A few guys down at the front were throwing pint glasses (some full of p*** I think) at Morrissey. At times quite a lot of beer and p*** was thrown on stage, and there was a lot of spitting, which Morrissey (quite rightly) didn’t take kindly to. During the last encore “Hand In Glove”, Morrissey was spit on again. This time he had enough, and he left the stage, leaving the band to finish the song by themselves.
Support came from the Stockholm Monsters, a band from Burnage in Manchester who recorded for Factory Records and were produced by Peter Hook.
Setlist: Bigmouth Strikes Again; Panic; Vicar In A Tutu; Frankly, Mr. Shankly; There Is A Light That Never Goes Out; Ask; I Want The One I Can’t Have; Never Had No One Ever; Cemetery Gates; The Boy With The Thorn In His Side; Is It Really So Strange?; Shakespeare’s Sister; Stretch Out And Wait; That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore; The Queen Is Dead
Encore: I Know It’s Over
Encore 2: (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame/Rusholme Ruffians; Hand In Glove
Archive for the ‘The Smiths’ Category
The Smiths Newcastle Mayfair 17th July 1986
The Smiths Newcastle City Hall 24th March 1985
This was, along with their incendiary performance on the Red Wedge tour, the best time I saw the Smiths. The tour was to promote their second album “Meat Is Murder”, and this time they called at Newcastle City Hall. The venue was pretty full, but I don’t think it was sold out. Support came from fellow Manchurians James, who were being touted as the “next big thing”. The Smiths came onstage to the music of Prokofiev’s “Romeo And Juliet” which was played at very high volume and accompanied by flashing strobe lights. The performance also used video of animals being slaughtered during “Meat Is Murder”. I had a seat close to the stage, and was surrounded by fans going completely crazy; fans were climbing over each other to get close to Morrissey and the first three rows of seats collapse under the scrum. as people had been clambering over the chairs to get closer to their hero. At one point in the concert Morrissey threw his shirt out into the audience; it landed quite close to me, but I had no chance of getting hold of it, a few guys started fighting over it; the shirt was torn to shreds. Morrissey was encouraging fans to come down to the front. The http://www.johnnymarrplaysguitar.com site quotes him as telling the fans “Come on don’t be afraid…..Don’t be afraid of the bouncers, they’re outnumbered”. “Shakespeare’s Sister” had just been released, and was introduced as their new single. I remember watching Johnny Marr, and realising that night just how incredible a guitarist he was.
A great gig from a band who at the time seemed to be unstoppable. Sadly two years later it would be all over.
The tour programme featured pools winner Viv Nicholson on the front cover (see picture). Morrissey had become fascinated by Viv, who had famously won the pools and went ahead to “Spend, Spend, Spend” it all, squandering the money on cars and high living, until she was eventually declared bankrupt.
Setlist: William, It Was Really Nothing; Nowhere Fast; I Want The One I Can’t Have; What She Said; Hand In Glove; How Soon Is Now?; Stretch Out And Wait; That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore; Shakespeare’s Sister; Rusholme Ruffians; The Headmaster Ritual; Still Ill; Handsome Devil; Meat Is Murder
Encore 1: Miserable Lie
Encore 2: Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now; Barbarism Begins At Home
The Smiths Newcastle Mayfair 7th March 1984
I was late getting into the Smiths. They had been in the charts with “This Charming Man” and “What Difference Does It Make?” and were soon to release “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”. There was a buzz about this band and the press were beginning to hail them as the “band of the moment” (Max Bell, The Times, 24 February 1984 in a review of a Smiths gig at the Lyceum, London). Bell went on to explain: “six months ago this Mancunian four-piece were breaking out of the club circuit. On Sunday they packed the Lyceum Ballroom with an air of reverential expectancy.” Bill Black (Sounds, November, 1983) declared the Smiths “a band verging on greatness”.
By the time I had decided I should go and see the Smiths, their concert at Newcastle Mayfair had been completely sold out for weeks. Still, I thought I’d try and get in, so I wandered along to the Mayfair ballroom on the night of the gig, only to find a massive queue outside the venue, waiting for the doors to open. I wandered up and down the queue shouting “anyone got a spare ticket” and soon scored one for face value. After a short wait the doors opened and we made our way down the stairs into the ballroom. The area on the dance floor around the stage was soon completely packed. I stayed up on the balcony, wandering around. Support came from Red Guitars, who were a left wing indie rock band from Hull. Their first single “Good Technology” was a minor hit.
The Smiths started with “Hand in Glove”, Morrissey sporting hearing aids, and a bunch of gladioli hanging from his back jeans pocket. There was some trouble in the crowd, and a few guys were spitting at Morrissey which caused him to stop singing a couple of times. Overall, however the audience gave the band a great reception, with the Smiths returning for two encores. When they came back on stage for the encores Morrissey was carrying huge armfulls of gladioli which were showered upon the crowd. This was the Smiths at their best, performing songs which have become classics. I remember everyone singing along to “This Charming Man” particularly the line “I would go out tonight, But I haven’t got a stitch to wear”. Happy days.
Setlist: Hand In Glove; Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now; Girl Afraid; This Charming Man; Pretty Girls Make Graves; Still Ill; This Night Has Opened My Eyes; Barbarism Begins At Home; Back To The Old House; What Difference Does It Make?
Encore: Reel Around The Fountain
Encore 2: You’ve Got Everything Now; Handsome Devil
Red Wedge tour Newcastle City Hall 31st January 1986
The Red Wedge concert at Newcastle City Hall in January 1986 is one of the most memorable gigs I have been to. Red Wedge was a collective of musicians, fronted by Billy Bragg, who set out to engage young people with politics, and the Labour Party in particular, during the period leading up to the 1987 general election, in the hope of ousting the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher. Billy Bragg was joined in Red Wedge by Paul Weller and The Communards lead singer Jimmy Somerville. Red Wedge organised a number of major tours and concert. The first and most memorable, took place in January and February 1986, and featured Billy Bragg, Paul Weller’s band The Style Council, The Communards, Junior Giscombe, and Lorna Gee. The core touring acts were joined by other guest bands throughout the tour.
The City Hall concert featured Billy Bragg, Junior Giscombe, The Style Council, The Communards, with guests Prefab Sprout and, as a big and very welcome surprise, The Smiths. It is The Smiths who stole the show, and their performance that night sticks in my memory as one of the best I have ever seen, by any band.
All of the bands performed short sets; a few songs each. The Communards were impressive, Jimmy Somerville’s soaring vocals were amazing, and the Style Council were also good. I seem to recall D C Lee guested with them and sang “See The Day”. Local heroes Prefab Sprout also went down well. John Hardy recalls their two song set on his North East Music History Blog: “But topping the local talent was the accoustic Paddy McAloon. The quirky ‘Dublin’ – a nostalgic carol to lost Ireland – his carressing croon and lyrical magic came through on ‘Cruel’, aided by the sylph like Wendy”.
But it was The Smiths who stole the show. There were whispers around the hall that something special was going to happen. Without any real warning, The Smiths were announced and stormed straight into ‘Shakespeare’s Sister, followed by ‘I Want The one I Can’t Have’, ‘Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ and ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ (“our new single”). There is something about a short set; it allows a band to focus and to maintain a high level of energy and passion throughout. The Smiths were simply phenomenal that night; there was a buzz about them at the time, and everyone was delighted to see them perform. But it was more than that. It was as if they had decided to put everything into those four songs; the power, the intensity, and Morrissey and Marr’s performance were a step above anything I had seen them deliver before (or since) that night. It was as if they knew that they were simply the best band on the planet at the time, and they came out with the confidence and ability to deliver a word class, stunning performance. We sat there, feeling that we were witnessing something special. It was that good. It was the best time I saw The Smiths, and a performance that will stay with me for ever. Perfect rock ‘n’ roll in four songs and 20 or so short minutes.
Johnny Marr said afterwards: “The Red Wedge gig at Newcastle City Hall was one of the best things we ever did. Andy and I had done a couple of gigs already with Billy Bragg in Manchester and Birmingham the week before…I was telling Morrissey about it and he was fairly up for just doing an impromptu show. So we drove up to Newcastle, without telling anyone. I walked into the sound-check…the other bands were a little bit perplexed as to what we were doing there. We had no instruments, so we borrowed The Style Council’s equipment and just tore the roof off the place. In the middle of the set we just walked on to this announcement and the place went bananas.” Morrissey said (NME, 1986): “…that was why we made a very brief, but stormy appearance. When we took to the stage the audience reeled back in horror. They took their walkmans off and threw down their cardigans. Suddenly the place was alight, aflame with passion!”
Laura and I went to see the great Johnny Marr last night at the equally great Leeds Brudenell Social Club. Johnny played two sold out gigs there as a warm up to some South American gigs. The Brudenell is an intimate club venue and the tickets for these gig sold out immediately. Johnny broke his hand a few weeks ago in a fall while he was running, and it was touch and go if the gigs would go ahead. However, his plaster came off last week, and he felt ok to do the shows. The set consisted of tracks from his latest album “The Messenger”, a couple of brand new tracks which will appear on his next album and the Smiths classics: Panic, Bigmouth Strikes Again, How Soon Is Now?, There Is A Light That and Never Goes Out. He also played a great cover of I Fought The Law (ala The Clash) and Electronic’s Getting Away With It. Really clear sound, great atmosphere, and pretty neat renditions of the Smiths songs. Great stuff!
Johnny Marr Manchester Ritz 22 March 2013
Laura is a big Smiths fan. She has seen Morrissey several times and saw Johnny Marr play with the Cribs, and loves anything to do with the Smiths. This was our first opportunity to see Johnny solo, so as soon as tickets went on sale, we bought a couple for this home coming gig, which sold out quickly. We drove down to Manchester yesterday afternoon with plenty of time to spare, to allow for bad weather. Diving wasn’t too bad, although it was very slow going across the M62 because of snow and long queues. We arrived in Manchester around 5pm and went for a pizza in Revolution. Manchester Ritz is a great, quite small, venue in the centre of the city. Laura and I have been there once before to see Suede, a few years ago. We entered the venue around 7.15pm, in time to catch support act Furs, a London-based band who played some pretty good 60s tinged music. Laura bought a signed vinyl copy of Johnny’s new album; The Messenger, and I bought a set of badges. Johnny Marr took to the stage at 8.30pm to a great roar from his home crowd. The Ritz looms large in Smith history, as it was the first venue they played back in the early 80s, a fact that Johnny made reference to. The set was a mix of songs from the new album, Smiths songs and songs from his time with Electronic, the dance supergroup that he formed with Bernard Sumner of New Order. The new songs are good, with a few pretty strong tunes, but it was (of course) the Smiths tracks that got the best reception from the Manchester crowd. Laura was particularly pleased that he chose to play London, as it is a relatively unknown Smiths song. Standouts for me were a great version of I Fought the Law ala the Clash (took me back), and an astounding version of How Soon is Now? Johnny handles vocal duties himself, and did a great job too. There was mega singing along and dancing to How Soon is Now? and There is a Light. A pretty special night, which we both really enjoyed. Johnny Marr finished at 10pm prompt; there was a curfew as the Ritz turns into a club night at 10.30pm on a Friday. The snow was coming down quite heavily as we drove back across the M62 and the journey was pretty scary; thankfully we got home safe around 1am. Setlist: The Right Thing Right; Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before; Upstarts; Sun And Moon; Forbidden City; European Me; London; Lockdown; The Messenger; Generate! Generate!; Say Demesne; Bigmouth Strikes Again; Word Starts Attack; New Town Velocity; I Want the Heartbeat. Encore: I Fought The Law; Getting Away With It; How Soon Is Now?; There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.