I was there...." The Smiths

Posted by Bo Ellegaard on November 23, 2020 0 Comments

"I was there...only to witness the The Smiths non-appearance at the Roskilde Festival"

It´s not often that you hear of music fans remembering a concert that never was!

It is more common that you find out too late that you should have attended this or that concert especially when you read the critics´ opinions the next day or listening to your best friend´s appraisal of the show.

In this case you can bump into people who can still draw tears to their eyes remembering the sad summer´s day the announcement was made in a matter-of-fact voice over the loudspeakers of Roskilde Festival that "Today´s Smiths´concert is off, sorry!"

I wasn´t there that year and I´m certainly not going to google what year this was. Why The Smiths didn´t show up? As to them not showing up I dare one possible clue, though: it could be on a whim of a certain Mr. Morrissey ... !

I strongly invite all who was there to tell their tale and memories of that fateful festival on Comments in this thread!!

In the 80´s it was beyond me that The Smiths would be anything to cry about should you miss out their concert or whatever...were they not just another retro-rock-a-billy band of the day to follow The Stray- or Polecats or even The Shakin´ Pyramids who all looked back to the 50´s for inspiration and attitude?...and tattoos, something that wasn´t of the ordinary or seen everywhere like it is today.

So, fortunately I was not in Roskilde that summer!

It was not until twenty-odd years later I was ready to take in what The Smiths was really all about and now it felt just right!

Forgive me, old Smiths´ fans, for being somewhat sloppy or even getting over-excited here (I´ll try not to!) but for those who haven´t got it yet a piece of advice:
With an open mind you must really concentrate on Morrissey´s lyrics about life (as he knows it) with themes and imagery beyond the usual pop- here and there morbid and at times funny even.
Singing The Smiths´ songs in a passionate voice to the fantastic guitars of Johnny Marr held togehter by the tightest rhythm section since God knows when you have the perfect pop group!
"Pop" here: meaning music with attitude and reason- in other words "Music to die for!" as "dead" is a common word in Morrissey´s vocabulary.

I don´t remember the exact track that did the trick (it could easily be "William, ..."or "Reel...") but I´m almost certain that it was on the "Hatful Of Hollow" album, which for me was the perfect entrance to The Smiths´ oeuvre and beyond.

A great compilation issued just months after their somewhat chaotic debut "The Smiths" with the original recording being dropped or at least omitted. (This version is later referred to as "the Troy Tate-version" and can be found as an "unofficial issue"- a recent euphemism for "bootleg"!).
Rough Trade, their label wanted a more direct and cleaner sound and had (Roxy Music)-producer John Porter to give it just that.

On "Hatful Of Hollow" what was done was basically to take a couple of early singles a´s and b sides and some great live tracks from the BBC radio sessions of both The John Peel- and David Jensen Shows. And voila: there you have it: the perfect Smiths album!

And so all I really had to do was go searching for The Smiths´ other albums and I do mean ALL the other albums.
I haven´t got round to the singles yet (well in fact I do have five 12"-s and counting...) but another couple of good compilations helped me getting there: "The World Won´t  Listen" and "Louder Than Bombs" contain all the a-sides of non-album singles as well as obscure b-sides you could wish for!

The Smiths never did play in Denmark but fortunately Morrissey occasionally visits us and in 2009 I was among the lucky few to see him here in Odense where he played an unforgettable concert!

I certainly would have cried had I missed that one out!



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