22 December 1988
Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One BeforeThis first solo Morrissey show was also unofficially meant as a farewell Smiths concert. The musicians backing Morrissey were ex-Smiths Mike Joyce and Andy Rourke, as well as once Smiths #5 Craig Gannon filling in as lead guitarist. The setlist featured a mix of Morrissey songs with Smiths tracks from 1987, so none of it had been performed in front of a live audience before. It had been decided at the time to only play Smiths tracks that had never been done live with Johnny during the Smiths days.
Admission was free to anyone wearing a Smiths or Morrissey shirt. Only half the fans who traveled to Wolverhampton made it inside the venue. Outside the queuing and organisation almost turned to chaos. The atmosphere inside was obviously very charged. There was a great deal of cheering and chanting Morrissey's name to the English football tune. Throughout the short set many fans made it on stage, much more than for a typical Smiths concert.
Morrissey came on stage to a thunder of applause, after a long period of cheering and chanting. In the first song, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", he sang "And so I drank one, or was it four?" instead of "... it became four". He actually sang that line as it had been originally written and not as it appeared on "Strangeways Here We Come". Before "Interesting Drug" which had yet to be released and was unknown to the fans, Morrissey started "This song is called..." but never managed to finish his introduction. In that song just like in the previous one, "Disappointed", Morrissey missed many lines because of the mayhem with the fans on stage.
Just before "Suedehead", as the band was waiting for Craig Gannon to be ready, Mike Joyce teased the fans with a few notes of the drum intro to "The Queen Is Dead" (the song would not be performed by Morrissey for another 9 years) and Morrissey told the audience "love you all". Morrissey changed the "oh so many illustrations" line in "Suedehead" to "Oh so many blank pages". Before "The Last Of The Famous International Playboys" he started "I'd like to say hello..." but did not finish his line and instead introduced the next song.
Before "Death At One's Elbow" Morrissey finally managed to say what he had originally started: "I'd like to say hello to Julian and hello to Mouse, your mother's letter arrived today, she has a good hand...". Morrissey changed a line in the latter number from "you'll slip on the trail of my bespattered remains" to "you'll slip on the trail of all of my entrails". After that number and its final lines "Goodbye my love, goodbye my love", Morrissey just said "goodbye" and everyone left the stage. They were called back with much insistence and performed one more song, a very rocking "Sweet And Tender Hooligan".
The backstage passes on this date featured famous Carry On actor Charles Hawtrey.
Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.
The live performance of "Sister I'm A Poet" can be seen on Morrissey's compilation of early promotional films titled "Hulmerist". The promos on the compilation are also interspersed with footage of fans queuing outside the venue and Morrissey's arrival in an old fashioned bus.
"Sweet And Tender Hooligan" from this show was released in audio form on the "Interesting Drug" 12" single and cd-single.
In April 2013 a soundboard rip from an official record company inhouse video of the concert was pressed onto bootleg vinyl, making the above audience recording useless. This new vinyl bootleg was not given a title (not to be confused with the audience one mentioned above which was titled "Untitled"), although the back of the LP sleeve and the record's labels state, title-style, "Live At The Civic Hall Wolverhampton, England December 22, 1988". The audio was immediately ripped from this LP to be distributed on the internet where bootlegs are shared.
In an interview published in the NME in February 1989, Morrissey said "The concert was a very impulsive thing... all the best things happen on impulse I find. I was interested to see how people would react towards me. There was no intention to cause chaos. It wasn't an attention-seeking device, I just needed to see some particular faces. It was nice to be kissed repeatedly. (...) It was Wolverhampton, it wasn't London and it wasn't Manchester which I thought was an important gesture. It was free which, for someone of my status, is unheard of. So I think those two elements added greatly to the event. There was no heavy security and it wasn't an imposing venue. It wasn't a theatre and it wasn't an aircraft hangar. It was dear old sweet dumpy Wolverhampton. (...) It was (...) senseless aggro. It was frothing admiration building to the brink and beyond. It wasn't provocation or dangling a carrot. I felt in order to get in you had to make a slight effort, it wasn't going to be that easy. So I knew that the people who made the effort were the important ones. It was like The Krypton Factor, it was a test of endurance. But nobody seemed to mind, apart, obviously, from the ones that didn't get in. That was inevitable. The T-shirts were a simple way of getting over who could get in the venue because otherwise it would have had to be tickets."
Morrissey, in an interview published in Record Mirror on 11 September 1989:
In an interview given to Q Magazine in December 1989, Morrissey said "I thought a free concert was a very good gesture. I couldn't think of anyone who'd done it in recent years. I was and still am in a situation where I could sit down with some very heavy money moguls and organise huge tours with highly inflated ticket prices. I don't do that because it's against my nature. So I thought above all people would see a free concert as a very welcome gesture, regardless of who got their sandals stolen or dropped their crisps in a puddle. In the hall that night there was a great aura of love and gentleness, and all the people who came on stage treated me in a very gentle way. I wasn't kicked or punched or dragged, although they were very emotionally charged. I came away with no bruises."
In an interview given to Len Brown in 1990 Morrissey said: "Wolverhampton was not really a concert, it was an event at which I didn't really sing."