Monday, 24 April 2017
666 The Smiths
First viewed : 8 May 1984
Spooky numbering for this post as the programme began with a song called "Handsome Devil".
I distinctly remember watching this at home but initially was wondering what I was doing there during term time. Then it clicked that the date was the second Tuesday in the month and therefore I was back home for a meeting of the Littleborough Civic Trust committee. I had sat on it since 1981 ( initially co-opted as a junior non-voting member ) and not only retained my seat but at the 1983 AGM took on the role of editing its quarterly newsletter less than a year before I was due to go to university. Looking back now , twenty years after finally relinquishing my committee seat and with a significant proportion of that committee no longer with us, it seems colossally stupid to have maintained that level of commitment throughout my university days and perhaps one or two of the other members should have expressed something more than slight bafflement at my priorities.
Anyway back to The Smiths, a recording by the Whistle Test crew of a concert by the group at Derby's Assembly Rooms venue from December 1983. At the time the group were getting a bit of flak for short sets but this meant it filled the slot between 7pm and the time I had to set off for the meeting at 8pm perfectly. My mum actually watched it with me because, having seen them on Top of the Pops with the gladioli, she thought they were "funny". I hadn't got fully into them at this point and sadly didn't go to see them when they played Leeds in February but this was definitely a staging post in becoming a fan.
They played most of the debut album, although significantly not "Suffer Little Children" and one or two other tracks that were mopped up by Hatful of Hollow. Obviously Johnny Marr couldn't replicate the multi-layered guitar sounds on record having only one pair of hands so the sound was leaner with Andy Rourke's bass more prominent. The highlight was undoubtedly the encore of "You've Got Everything Now" with a stage invasion - including a Robert Smith clone who seemed to have turned up at the wrong concert - which frequently pulled the mike away from Morrissey's lips as well as divesting him of most of his shirt. It's a terrific document of a great band on the way up.