Gig Review: THE SMYTHS @ The Good Ship Kilburn – 24/05/2015

CP - The Smyths 1 Mark K’s been a tad skeptical of tribute bands but word of the Smyths had reached his ears and with positive noises; so, when he heard they were playing at The (becoming a somewhat legendary venue) Good Ship Kilburn he took the plunge and went to check them out. 
Here’s what he had to say…


I must confess that I’ve always viewed tribute bands with a degree of wariness. On the one hand I’ve had a sneaking suspicion that they’re too damn lazy to write their own material, and on the other hand been convinced that they will inevitably be disappointing.

However, having seen the odd tribute band at festivals and been pleasantly surprised, plus having had The Smyths enthusiastically recommended to me, and moreover having missed The Smiths themselves back in the day (an act of foolishness for which I offer no excuses), I decided to take a chance.

As the band took the stage, it was immediately obvious that the singer was a pretty convincing Morrissey lookalike, but the other three had made no effort whatsoever. Hmmmmm… However, in terms of material there was certainly no arguing with the opening triumvirate of The Boy With The Thorn In His Side, Panic and Ask. There was also no arguing with the fact that The Smyths actually do sound like the real thing!!! Musically they are absolutely spot on. CP - The Smyths 3

This is about as authentic a ‘live Smiths experience’ as you’re likely to find in the 21st Century, short of the band themselves actually re-forming, and it would take some pretty extreme circumstances for that to happen. Hell freezing over? The second coming of the messiah? Well, he’s probably a fan…

The band play two sets, and the second set opens with some solo Morrissey tunes (Everyday Is Like Sunday, Suedehead, Last Of The Famous International Playboys, and First Of The Gang To Die, since you ask). Apparently some Smiths die-hards have complained about this in the past. It’s a tad churlish to do so when they’re performed so authentically, although in this case it’s not impossible to experience Morrissey live very occasionally. The singer is dressed as a solo Morrissey, but a quick change of shirt and the addition of horn-rimmed specs restores him to Smiths-era Morrissey again. He even has a sense of humour that is almost as dry as Morrissey’s. Gay marriage having been made legal in the Republic of Ireland a couple of days previously, the singer comments: “church must have been interesting this morning…..”

CP - The Smyths 2 I should point out that this is not purely a ‘greatest hits’ or ‘best of’ show, although much of it could be classed as such. There are perhaps lesser known album tracks such as Barbarism Begins At Home (from Meat Is Murder) and I Know It’s Over (from The Queen Is Dead) and b-sidesStretch Out And Wait, Unloveable, and Rubber Ring, so Smiths obsessives are kept happy.

Most of the audience here were probably not born when The Smiths split up after Strangeways Here We Come, yet they’re bellowing the lyrics back at the band like they’ve known them all their lives. Maybe they have. The gig most definitely feels like an event. I later discover that it is now quite rare for The Smyths to play pubs. On their current tour they are playing ‘proper’ music venues such as Brighton Concorde 2 and Sheffield Academy.

Maybe this is the future of rock. As bands retire or die, tribute bands will spring up to keep their music alive. If they’re anywhere as good as The Smyths, I’ve certainly got no problem with that.

Mark Kelly