We are digging into the Far Out vault and going back to 1986 and revisiting one of Britain’s iconic bands, a time when The Smiths would perform their last ever show for the adoring crowd at South London’s Brixton Academy. An iconic moment as one of the most loved bands in all of Britain, still to this day, let the curtains fall never to be seen in full formation again.
At an age when The Smiths’ most loyal fans begin to turn their back on the beloved indie band following Morrissey’s consistently controversial political stance, we delve back to the ’80s to remember a band that was made up of three other members who, as of yet, haven’t manage to mark their own legacies with some ill-advised comments.
With Johnny Marr on guitar driving the songs and sound of the band, Mike Joyce on the drums, and bassist Andy Rourke, The Smiths were led by the undoubtedly enigmatic Morrissey onto the stage of London’s iconic Brixton Academy on December 12th, 1986 for one last hurrah and what a send off it was.
The show, which was originally booked for November, needed to be pushed back a month after guitarist Marr was involved in a near-fatal car accident which, in many ways, added to the overall success of the performance as it felt like a death-defying show. Prior to Marr’s accident, the band were able to rest up having toured heavily for the better part of a year and, as was to be expected, were heavily fatigued as the dates came to a close.
It meant by the time the delayed Brixton gig came around, the band were back to full fitness and raring to go. They did not disappoint as they ran through a setlist that would make people wince.
Treating their adoring fans to renditions of the previously unplayed tracks ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’ and ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’, The Smiths rolled through a rousing set of their extensive back catalogue which ultimately ended in a rare performance of 1984’s ‘Hand In Glove’ after the band had cut the song from their previous tour.
Despite tensions growing within the band dynamic, and there were plenty, The Smiths members and, certainly, those in the crowd were unaware that the show at Brixton Academy was to be their last. A few months after the performance, the Manchester band were once again back in the studio and putting the finishing touches on their album Strangeways, Here We Come.
However, as an exhausted Marr looked to take a break from being in The Smiths, the band would split before the record’s official release date as Morrissey’s insatiable thirst for stardom could not be quenched—and so would end the legacy of one of Britain’s greatest bands. We’d much rather focus on their triumphant and raucous last live show, as The Smiths bow out in Brixton.
“You have incredibly good taste,” Morrissey tells the crowd while in good spirits. The lead singer then held up a sign during the performance that famously read: “Two light ales please.”
Below, find the full performance and setlist.
The Smiths final concert setlist:
Bigmouth Strikes Again
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others (only live performance)
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side
Shoplifters Of The World Unite
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Is It Really So Strange?
This Night Has Opened My Eyes
The Queen Is Dead
William It Was Really Nothing
Hand In Glove