Watch the rare performance of The Smiths ‘reunion’ show from 1988
The Smiths are one of those bands who are subject to countless reunion rumours almost monthly. In fact, just last year Johnny Marr was forced to hilariously refute some whispers of him and Morrissey sharing a stage for the first time since December 1986. Marr quickly put it to bed asking if Far-Right activist Nigel Farage would be joining he and Moz on stage.
Though the partnership of Morrissey and Marr haven’t performed together in 34 years, The Smiths have had at least one ‘reunion’ of sorts. When you look back at it, it may be a concrete reason as to why the band split in the first place.
We’re looking back at the moment Morrissey, Mike Joyce, and Andy Rourke all got up on stage to perform Smiths classics at Wolverhampton Civic Hall as well as some Moz originals on December 22nd, 1988.
The Smiths officially called it a day in the winter of 1987 when Johnny Marr departed the group to the National whimpers of a generation. No other band at that time had changed British youth culture so dramatically since punk and there was hope The Smiths would head up another cultural revolution. But it wasn’t to be; The Smiths were officially dead.
It wouldn’t take long for Morrissey to start working on the band’s corpse and trying to Frankenstein his own creation out of the discarded pieces. Soo enough Morrissey was working on a solo career with some of Factory Records finest in Stephen Street and Vini Reilly. Moz would release his first solo record Viva Hate in 1988 and his iconography would grow exponentially.
Perhaps looking to bring the band back together for a newly Morrissey-focused shot at stardom, the singer’s manager contacted his former bandmates to take part in a reunion at the midlands music venue. While Rourke and Joyce would take up the offer, one assumes with little else to do. Johnny Marr, as one might expect, refused the invitation to be part of a Morrissey backing band and was replaced by guitarist Craig Gannon.
After being announced on the legendary John Peel radio show, the gig would offer up an alternative to buying tickets, it saw fans gain entry if they had a The Smiths or Morrissey t-shirt on. It would bring in an audience of maniacal Moz fans and a suitably raucous crowd makes for an entertaining 40-minute set.
Opening with ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, the band would give Smiths fans a real treat by playing songs that had never been performed live before. With the band coming to an end so abruptly, The Smiths were never able to tour some of their most beloved material. For this reason, the reunion provided many fans with a sense of closure.
The group also motored through a host of Morrissey solo tracks ‘Suedehead,’ ‘Last Of The Famous International Playboys,’ and ‘Sister I’m A Poet’ as well as The Smiths’ ‘Sweet And Tender Hooligan’.
It makes for a thrilling watch for any dedicated fans of The Smiths, while we won’t say this is a ‘reunion’ as we’d like it – no Marr, no reunion – the performance is a glimpse of the band’s feverish power at the height of their fame.