Few bands have had the same impact as The Smiths had on music and it is even more staggering that they managed to achieve it in such a small amount of time. This footage of the seminal group performing ‘I Know It’s Over’ from their final ever tour in 1986 shows there is something to be said for bowing out at the top.
34 years on from their final tour and we have still never seen a reunion of the band in their original line-up and with Morrissey and Johnny Marr as ideologically apart as ever, we can’t see this changing anytime soon. It’s best to celebrate what was rather than ponder what could have been. Any reunion would have failed that capture that magic that they conjured up in their heyday.
This clip is taken from their performance at the National Ballroom in Kilburn from October 1986 from one of their very final shows would be impossible to recreate, this rendition of ‘I Know It’s Over’ epitomises The Smiths at their bleak best.
Despite tensions growing within the band dynamic, The Smiths members were also unaware that the tour was set to be their final one. 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.
The heavy touring The Smiths were fulfilling at this time only made their relationships more strenuous. Tensions would soon overboil but they managed to leave their tensions at the stage door, as this glorious rendition of ‘I Know It’s Over’ is proof of.
By the time Strangeways, Here We Come was released the following September, the band had already split. The breakdown in the relationship has been primarily attributed to Morrissey’s irritation by Marr’s work with other artists which came from Marr feeling like he had become trapped in The Smiths by Morrissey’s stubbornness to expand his musical horizons. Now so more than ever Morrissey and Marr couldn’t seem further apart.
The driving forces behind The Smiths had simply taken the project as far as they could before they needed to find pastures new, to fulfil themselves creatively in Marr’s case and to escape the tension and animosity that this sonic standstill had caused. Despite only making four records, they are one of the most significant bands in the history of alternative music with Morrissey redefining masculinity in his lyricism juxtaposed with the wizardry of Johnny Marr that few have managed to replicate.
Enjoy this spellbinfing performance of ‘I Know It’s Over’ from one of the last times all four members of The Smiths would ever set foot on stage together.