The Smiths are a band that has some of the most fanatical fans in the world, despite the fact they broke up 30 years ago. A Smiths reunion is a dream for many but sadly that is all it will probably ever be. A dream. This goes some way into explaining the appeal of a cover act like The Smiths Indeed. In the 30 years since The Smiths broke up they have amassed new fans throughout the generations. Many of whom weren’t even alive when The Smiths were touring. Therefore, for a lot of people this is the closest they will ever get to seeing The Smiths.
The drummer, bassist and lead guitarist came out on stage first. Then like a true showman, the Morrissey of the group comes bounding on stage. He had all the Morrissey clichés checked: flowery shirt, tick, NHS specs, tick, beads around the neck, tick, flowers in hand, tick, and of course the quiff, tick. Although I can’t help but think that he looks more like Lee Mack crossed with Super Hans from Peep Show than he does Morrissey. But never mind.
However, when it comes to sounding like the Smiths, The Smiths Indeed are bang on.
They kick off the set with the classic Panic and the singer sounds more like Morrissey than Morrissey does today. The Smiths Indeed also come armed with props. While singing the lyrics ‘hang the DJ, hang the DJ’ the singer pulls out a noose and swings it about. The Smiths Indeed really go all out to put on a show to try and transport you to the mid-80s.
As well as sounding just like The Smiths, another beautiful aspect of a tribute band is because they themselves are Smiths fans, they know exactly what other Smiths fans want to hear. Often there is a disconnect between how an artist judges their music and how a fan judges it. For instance, both Morrissey and Johnny Marr view Strangeways, Here We Come as their best album. But in my opinion it is their weakest out of the four albums The Smiths did.
So, the setlist was packed with fan favourites. From the underrated Reel Around The Fountain to the legendary How Soon is Now. Although if I must have a small grumble, it would be that there was no Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, or Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before. However I came prepared knowing that it would be impossible for them to play all The Smiths songs I love. (Because that would pretty much involve playing every Smiths song).
Furthermore, The Smiths Indeed also managed to deliver that magical thing The Smiths had. Being both minimalist, and grand at the same time by having three encores. It might be a bit much being a tribute act and doing three encores. But why not? If you get to be Morrissey then be full Morrissey. During the first and second encore my friend and I joked with each other that the real Morrissey would now perform a couple of his solo songs. And sure enough the Smiths Indeed came on and performed Morrissey’s Everyday is Like Sunday and First of the Gang to Die. Brilliant.
They ended the set with a second performance of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. And if you are going to perform a song twice, then it might as well be what is potentially the greatest song ever written.
If the real Smiths reformed and played a small intimate venue like Concorde 2, sounding exactly like they did back in the day and played as strong a collection of songs as the Smiths Indeed did, it would have been one of the greatest gigs ever. Alas it was just a tribute. So there was always going to be a tinge of sadness that it wasn’t the real thing. But in a way a tinge of sadness mixed with joy sums up The Smiths, so well done to the Smiths Indeed.