THE SMITHS INDEED
I saw them last year in the smaller Cardiff Barfly and wrote a glowing review, but even I was surprised to find that they could now comfortably fill a venue twice the size. There is no doubting the fact that their lead singer has all the obligatory mannerisms and idiosyncrasies of Mr Stephen Patrick Morrissey, but what I had forgotten was how darn good the rest of the band are. Special mention should be given to their equivalent of Johnny Marr whose note perfect recreation of that quintessential Smiths sound sets the back drop for the night.
This tour was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Meat is Murder and therefore the first half of the performance was a run through of the whole album in chronological track order. Mozza took to the stage in dark shades, suitably bouffant hairdo and effeminate blouse and promptly proceeded to win over the crowd by distributing flowers to the front row. Good God, even his speaking voice sounds like the great man.
So without further ado they were straight into Headmaster Ritual. Now if I have any criticism (and it is only a minor one) it is that I am not particularly enamoured by every track on the album. Some are definitely classics, but there are others which leave me rather cold. And ultimately this means that when they return for the second half of the show, and do all the Smiths tracks we know and love, certain great songs have to be omitted due to time constraints (e.g. no Ask, Cemetery Gates, Hand in glove or Boy with the thorn in his side). Still I have to say that seemed to matter little to the sway of people losing themselves in the delights of Rushmore Ruffian, That joke isnt funny anymore and Meat is murder.
A quick change of garb brought back the band to produce a set of the Smiths Greatest Hits. Its only at this point that I realise how many truly great numbers Messrs Morrissey and Marr actually wrote, as one slice of perfect indie-rock followed another. And so Cardiff is treated to note perfect renditions of Panic, Girlfriend in a Coma, Heaven knows Im Miserable Now, What Difference Does it Make, William it was Really Nothing, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Shoplifters of the World Unite and a few b-sides such as Jeane and Is it Really so Strange especially for the hardcore Smiths fanatics that seemed to make up a goodly proportion of the audience.
Finally, and after another costume change by Mozza into a rather fetching strawberry coloured cardigan, four tattooed boys from Birkenhead once more take to the stage and Cardiff is metamorphosed into Manchester of 1985. A fresh bouquet of flowers ushers in This Charming Man, and a type of mass hysteria takes hold of the crowd to the extent that people actually believe that they are watching the real Smiths. People clammer to get onto the stage to pay homage and the bouncers are kept busy repelling the steady stream of friendly invaders. By the opening strains of How Soon is Now? the audience is a swaying mass of fanatical adoration and the evening is climaxed with, for me, the Smiths greatest moment with Please, please, please let me get what I want.