The Smiths Indeed – Manchester Academy 3 – 10th April 2010

Posted on April 14, 2010


written for High Voltage

The Smiths have left behind a unique and enduring legacy. Their songs are listened to by more people now than ever before and they continue to influence an untold number of new bands. Morrissey’s unsurpassed ability to write poetic lyrics, that were both witty and sorrowful, meant that the band were blessed with the best pop wordsmith of a generation. Add to that Johnny Marr’s gift of being able to structure beautiful chord progressions, played in a distinctive arpeggio style, and it created something very special. The Smiths Indeed, a highly acclaimed Smiths tribute band, attempted to re-create some of this magic tonight, but as is often the case at tribute events such as this, their efforts fell embarrassingly short.

As tribute acts go, The Smiths Indeed are fairly decent. It is quite clear that they have studied the band closely in an attempt to incorporate as much detail as possible, by carefully selecting the guitar tones and being as true to the original compositions as one could imagine. However, some parts of their act fall woefully short; and the idea that this band can transport an audience back to the 1980’s, and give a true flavour of what a Smiths concert was really like, is complete nonsense. They deserve credit for being able to authentically reproduce many of the songs with some accuracy, but what purpose tribute acts serve became more and more unclear as the evening progressed. It seemed like many members of the audience had come to pretend they were watching The Smiths, but the reality was oh so different.

Despite generally performing with professionalism, there were some extremely hairy moments. The worst being when the guitarist, who had performed some tricky Marr riffs fairly competently, played the ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’ solo pitifully out of key, which sounded amateurish and made a few onlookers squirm. At £10 pounds a ticket, the ability to play a simple solo section would seem a minimum requirement. That was by no means the only awkward moment. The onstage gyrating and hip swinging, which was meant to portray Morrissey dancing around in his pomp, was also slightly uncomfortable to watch.

Tonight’s performance came as part of The Smiths Indeed’s latest tour, which is a celebration of 25 years since the release of Meat is Murder, and the first half of their set was dedicated to playing the complete album in its original order. There was then a short break before they launched in to some other classic tracks, including the much-loved b-side Wonderful Woman. The drums and bass were played with expert precision, and the electric guitar tone was faithful to the original and was played through a nice Rickenbacker, giving them a solid overall sound. In general, the vocal was good, with singer J. Wendelen incorporating the falsetto sing-outs on ‘What Difference Does It Make?’ and ‘Well I Wonder’ with great aplomb.

Credit should go to The Smiths Indeed for managing to expertly play large parts of their set with exactness; it is certainly not an easy task to play work originally written by expert musicians. Nevertheless, the idea of ever seeing them again is frightful. It was all supposed to be a bit of fun but for some it was an experience to forget. Lesson learned – stay away from tribute bands.

Posted in: Music