The Smiths Remembered…..

Today is the 30th anniversary of the “Festival of the 10th Summer”. On Saturday the 19th of July 1986 The Smiths, New Order, The Fall, Pete Shelley, OMD plus many more played the G-MEX in Manchester to celebrate 10 years since the dawn of punk. To celebrate we look back at our year of Smith’s performances…..

As its 30 years ago this year and I will soon be hitting my half century I thought I would reminisce about my favourite year. During the course of 1986 I saw The Smiths 11 times, I was 19, clumsy and shy and yes, the final date was London but I survived.

January 31st

Newcastle City Hall Red Wedge tour (4 songs)

The Red Wedge tour rolled into Newcastle City Hall. Such stars as the Style Council, Billy Bragg, The Communards and Jerry Dammers all performed to try and help Neil Kinnock topple the Tories. But the stars of the night were The Smiths. Unannounced, only date they played, 4 songs of utter brilliance. Opening with “Shakespeare’s Sister” followed by “I want the one I can’t have” then their last two singles “The Boy with the Thorn in his Side” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again”. Superb.

February 8th

Royal Court Theatre Liverpool “From Manchester with Love….” With New Order and The Fall. This was the first time The Smiths played “The Queen is Dead” live. The concert was to raise funds for Derek Hatton and his beleaguered council. Bands from Manchester went to Liverpool Royal Court to show solidarity. As well as Morrissey’s men there was the Fall and New Order. The music was superb but sleeping rough in the station afterwards, as the temperature dropped below zero, was not so good!


On the 16th of June The Queen is Dead album is released. If you bought it from HMV you could buy a grey t-shirt for very cheap. These are now very rare as all t-shirts afterwards were white. I’ve still got mine in a box upstairs!!!

July 5th

Euro-Tube: Newcastle Tyne Tees Studios (“There is a Light that never goes out” and “Panic”)

How we managed to get tickets for this I don’t know but get them we did. Watch the video below and see some gangly youths “chicken dancing” on each other’s shoulders. Well that’s me, Belly and Carl. Yes, we were young. Yes, we were foolish. When we went back to the Barley Mow some lads clapped us in as they’d just watched it on the tv. Surreal night.


16th Glasgow Barrowlands

17th Newcastle Mayfair

Seeing the Smiths 4 times in 5 nights is probably the height of my concert going career. Probably the height of anyone’s concert going career! Each gig was great. A brilliant time to be alive.

The opening night was hot and sweaty. Glasgow did what Glasgow does best. Passion and enthusiasm for anything they think is important, and the Smiths were important. This should be my favourite gig ever but was only the second best gig that week! The Mayfair the following night was great but was never going to live up to Glasgow on the opening night of the tour. A few idiots spitting at Morrissey didn’t help either; “If the people spit, then the people spit….”
On our way home we decorated Cramlington railway station in anticipation of a royal visit the following day. We got up early next morning to find that our “artwork” had been removed. I’m sure her majesty would have been amused!!

19th Manchester G-Mex

G-Mex was a great day; New Order with Mac Mcculloch singing Ceremony, The Fall, Pete Shelley, Frank Sidebottom et al. But The Smiths stole the show. It was the second time I’d seen them in the daylight. Gmex was all windows and their earlier than expected performance (New Order headlined) meant they played in natural light. I’d seen them do this at Carlisle Market Hall in 84. Another great night.

20th Salford University

The final night of the 4 was Salford on a Sunday. We spent the day being miserable in Manchester nursing hangovers and having nothing to do. But the gig was superb. My favourite ever Smiths performance. I spent the last half a dozen songs on the stage after our invasion became a permanent feature. The gig was stopped several times to stop amps etc being toppled over. It was crazy, it was amazing. Do things get better than this? Probably not!


My final 4 Smiths gigs ever. I’ve seen Morrissey solo at least 30 times since then but these come nowhere close to the beauty of The Smiths. Part of me would love them to get back together so I could do this one more time. But most of me is pleased that these memories can never be tarnished.

13th Carlisle Sands Centre

I got the train to Carlisle as our car was full and as I’d promised a lift to two girls from Cramlington it left me with no lift. Plus point was I didn’t have to endure Carl’s driving or Timlin’s moaning!

Opening night of the full The Queen is Dead Tour. A massive arena type gig that I cannot remember much about.

14th Middlesbrough Town Hall

The next night was far better. Middlesbrough Town Hall has always been a favourite of mine. Despite the fact you cannot get a beer for love nor money the actual venue is brilliant. It has class and atmosphere unequalled in medium sized venues. A great night of stage invasions and sweaty shenanigans.

15th Wolverhampton Civic Hall

We hadn’t planned to go to Wolverhampton the next night but Stephen Joyce was driving and offered us a lift, so we went. I think we got in on the guest list as I have no ticket stub for this gig and as you all I know I am incessant collector and hoarder so would not have lost it.

26th London Palladium

My final Smiths gig was Sunday night at the Palladium. We went down early in the day and spent the whole time waiting outside the venue. Partly to try and catch a glimpse of our heroes and partly to blag our way in as again we didn’t have tickets. We had built up a friendship with Johnny Marr and he would often get us on the guest list. We couldn’t clarify this so we managed to see Mike Joyce who secured us tickets up in the balcony. Just before show time we got news that Johnny had put us on the guest list. We now had two more tickets than we needed. We kept the best seats and gave away the balcony seats to two lads we’d met up with that day. Another fantastic day but at the time it just seemed normal. It is only in retrospect that I realise how special all these gigs were. There was only one more gig in the UK which I missed as it was close to Christmas and it was the annual day out in Ashington! Ha ha as if I chose a day out on the beer instead of what would be the final Smiths gig ever! At the time I didn’t know this and with hindsight I did have a great day in The Grand.


The Smiths on the Euro Tube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdPlNnId-mQ

By peter on July 19, 2016

Check out all the pics

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