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After a break of about one month, the Smiths hit the road again, this time mostly as headliners, of what started to resemble an organized tour. They were booked in many colleges and universities where their earlier Peel-listening fans were found. Their fanbase grew by leaps and bounds during this period thanks to repeated broadcast of their BBC radio appearances, great live reviews and the release of their second single "This Charming Man". Already, unreleased songs like "Reel Around The Fountain" had become live favourites often requested by the audience.

On stage the band looked much more confortable than a few months earlier. Experience was sinking in, Morrissey's voice was more assured and he was more playful and interacted more with his audience. It must be said that he must have been feeding on the energy he got from his audience. People were coming to gigs in greater numbers, many curious to see what the buzz was about, others were already dedicated fans.

 


The Smiths were getting booked as headliners more and more, but as these dates didn't form a real tour, support bands varied from one gig to the next. Please see individual links above for more information.

 


A promo poster of the band's "Hand In Glove" single was sold for 1 on at least a few of these dates.

 


At Camden Dingwalls the Smiths came on stage after Dusty Springfield's "Wishin' and Hopin'". This may have been the case on other dates of this period.

 


The backbone of the setlist for the period covered here didn't vary much from the previous: "You've Got Everything Now", "Handsome Devil", "Reel Around The Fountain", "What Difference Does It Make?", "These Things Take Time", "I Don't Owe You Anything", "Hand In Glove", "Miserable Lie" and "Accept Yourself". The latter was actually the encore song (often with a second helping of "Hand In Glove") until the end of the year. After that it was dropped from the setlist. The recently reborn "Wonderful Woman" was played five times then disappeared.

New tracks were introduced regularly, as they were written: "Pretty Girls Make Graves" was introduced in August, "This Charming Man" and "Still Ill" were added in September and "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" debuted in October. The latter had actually been played in September on John Peel's programme, but it took a month after that for it to be played on a stage.

The setlist varied in length from 10 to 12 tracks, or slightly less when the band was opening for someone else. When new songs appeared, others were occasionally dropped. "Wonderful Woman" was the first to go. Then "Accept Yourself", "These Things Take Time" or "I Don't Owe You Anything" appeared more sporadically on the setlist. Strangely, as the release of the "This Charming Man" single got closer (it was released at the end of October), its two b-sides, "Wonderful Woman" and "Accept Yourself" were deleted from the setlist.

Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 13 concerts for which the setlist is known.

Hand In Glove - 25
Handsome Devil - 17
Miserable Lie - 13
Reel Around The Fountain - 13
What Difference Does It Make? - 13
These Things Take Time - 11
You've Got Everything Now - 11
I Don't Owe You Anything - 9
Pretty Girls Make Graves - 8
This Charming Man - 8
Still Ill - 7
Accept Yourself - 6
Wonderful Woman - 5
This Night Has Opened My Eyes - 4

See here for more tour statistics.

 


"Hand In Glove" was always performed twice, once in the main set, and again as the encore. Morrissey firmly believed in the song that he had chosen to be the Smiths' first single, and he made sure people were exposed to it sufficiently, even reminding them to go out and buy it. Before the introduction of the new songs mentioned above, "Handsome Devil" was also repeated during the encore.

In standard main set closer "Miserable Lie" Morrissey reversed the lines "I know the wind-swept mystical air" and "I recognise that mystical air" in most performances at the time. Until mid-September, "These Things Take Time" was performed with a drum roll intro which would then be lost, particularly when the song would find its way on the "What Difference Does It Make?" single six months down the road. In "These Things Take Time" again, Morrissey sometimes changed one line to "You said I was ill and you were wrong". In "Hand In Glove", instead of singing "but we have something they'll never have", Morrissey often sang "we have something they never had".

In mid/late September "Accept Yourself" and "Wonderful Woman" were both recorded for eventual release on the upcoming "This Charming Man" single. After that point, both were changed when performed live. In "Accept Yourself", Morrissey yelped twice after the line "Time is against me now" and he more or less stopped doing it after it was recorded. Until "Wonderful Woman" was recorded, Morrissey still sang "Ah answer me, what to be done with her?" instead of "I ask myself, what to be said of her?".

"Still Ill" was probably performed very soon after it was written because with every performance (starting with its debut on 15 September) its lyrics changed sensibly. See individual dates for details. When he was in a playful mood, which happened quite a few times in October, Morrissey sang the words "I really don't know, and I really don't care!" in "Hand In Glove" in a completely different melody. He also yelped here and there and playfully changed the melody or words in certain lines of set closer "You've Got Everything Now". He even sang "No I've never had a job, because I'm too handsome" on a few occasions.

 


Nothing from these dates was ever given an official release.

 


At this point in time there is no visual souvenir of this portion of the Smiths live history, in either video or DVD.

 


Performance-wise, the best concert for this period would have to be the 21 October gig at the North East London Polytechnic. Morrissey and the band were playful and in the best of moods. "These Things Take Time", "I Don't Owe You Anything", "Accept Yourself" and "Wonderful Woman" had by then disappeared from the Smiths setlist (rarely to return), but new compositions "Pretty Girls Make Graves" and "This Night Has Opened My Eyes" were featured. This concert is commonly found on a bootleg titled "Charming Men". However serious collectors might prefer a scarcer but better sounding first generation transfer of that recording because the latter title was produced from a higher generation tape copy.

The night of 15 September was also a great one. The band was excellent and early rough versions of "This Charming Man" and "Still Ill" were played. The show is available on the "Catch Us If You Can" bootleg, but again fans might prefer a better sounding alternate recording, this one credited to taper Josef. The song "Wonderful Woman" from this period wasn't played in either of the two concerts mentioned above, but it may not be that interesting to the non-completist who has the song from any recording from June or July (see previous section).

The next best options for collectors of this early period of the Smiths' career are average, good or reasonably good recordings of the following dates: 9 August, 11 August, 19 August, 30 August, 25 September, 30 September, 5 October, 22 October and 28 October. This leaves the 7 August concert for which the recording is below average, although still listenable.

Everything mentioned above is available in digital format on the internet.