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This first major tour by the Smiths was put together to promote their debut album, and it was a complete sell-out. Despite administrative problems (managing, booking) behind the scenes and Morrissey being ill for the first portion of the tour, everything turned out very well as the band were welcome as messiahs everywhere they went.
A handful of concerts originally scheduled from 2 to 10 February were cancelled because Morrissey was struck with bronchitis. They were slotted at the tail end of the tour (which should originally have ended in Manchester) for a total of 32 dates.
Smithsmania was the buzzword and the concerts were very hectic. The Smiths could do no wrong. Unfortunately many of the concerts happening in smaller cities were attended by negative elements who wanted to find out what the Smiths were about, but not necessarily appreciating. There was a lot of heckling and coins or beer were thrown on stage.
Morrissey's rider included a jar of Gale's Honey, a fresh lemon and many flowers. He had to have his own room.
"Miserable Lie" was attempted on the first date, then dropped most likely because Morrissey had just recovered from a bronchitis and the falsetto ending was probably too straining on his vocal chords. "I Don't Owe You Anything" was also dropped at this point. So after just one show, the setlist was cut down to 11 tracks, the regulars listed above minus "Reel Around The Fountain" and "Handsome Devil". The former was slowly reintroduced on and off after a few gigs, and then the latter after a few more, bringing the setlist back to a standard 13 songs.
The Hammersmith Palais concert was recorded and Sandie Shaw was invited to sing one song with the Smiths. For this special occasion, and because it was happening in London, the biggest show of the tour, the setlist was extended by three more tracks: "Miserable Lie" played for the first time since the first show, "These Things Take Time" played for the first time in 1984 and the neglected "I Don't Owe You Anything", which Sandie Shaw sang instead of Morrissey. "Miserable Lie" would not return to the setlist on this leg, but "These Things Take Time" was kept on now and then after that as a second encore.
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 27 concerts for which the setlist is known, plus 2 for which it is partially known.
Back To The Old House - 30
See here for more tour statistics.
The new live additions "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "Girl Afraid" were often slotted right after the latter opener, or not much further down, and would be played one after the other for most of this tour. At this stage both were slightly different to the versions that would be released two months after the end of this tour (despite Morrissey constantly introducing "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" as the new single night after night). The latter was differently arranged and had slightly alternate lyrics. There was no break in the song at the time, Mike kept on drumming throughout the bridge. The main lyrical difference remaining after a few performances was the line "What she said to me at the end of the day" sung instead of "What she asked of me at the end of the day".
"Barbarism Begins At Home" had already matured significantly since its live inception just before Christmas. It was closer to the version that would eventually be released, but would still evolve throughout this tour and the coming year. On certain nights, Morrissey was heard improvising words in the latter part of the song. Echo was applied to the vocal yelps and la-la-la's in the song's second half, especially in the latter part of the tour.
"You've Got Everything Now" was always slotted as an encore and was the song in which Morrissey liked tp play with words and sounds. Of its many lyric changes the most common were "No, I've never had a job because frankly, I just don't want one!" and "A friendship sadly lost, it isn't true and it's false", "a friendship sadly lost, it could be true it could be false" or "A friendship sadly lost, is it true? Is it false?". For the most part of the tour, at the end of the song, the band didn't even pause, they segued straight into "Handsome Devil" without giving fans the chance to show their appreciation.
In current single "What Difference Does It Make?", Morrissey sometimes changed a few words to "but now you make feel so ashamed because I only got two heads". In "This Charming Man", he occasionally changed one word in the line "This man said it's gruesome that someone so ugly should care".
Halfway into the tour, "Pretty Girls Make Graves" was changed musically. At the start of the second part of the song, as Morrissey sang "I could have been wild and I could have been free", the rhythm switched to a reggae-ish one. The song would be performed that way until the end of its live life in November 1984.
The set in Bristol was slightly less interesting than the Hammerstein Palais one, but collectors will surely still be interested in the untitled soundboard recording which is circulated amongst collectors. Traders must be careful however that they are not getting the more common inferior audience recording of the same show which is sometimes found under the title "Boy Afraid". Fans and collectors will also be interested in the FM recording of the Glasgow concert, one of the best shows of the tour. It can be found under the title "Oscillate Wildly".
Collectors interested in more will want to keep an eye out for the audience recording of the Hull concert, sometimes found under the title "Hull University". The Bournemouth audience recording is also interesting, but for a different reason: the trouble between the band and the fans. The latter two recordings are not available on manufactured bootlegs but can be traded from concert collectors.
There is more out there for completist collectors. Audience recordings of the following dates are reasonably commonly found: Sheffield, London Lyceum, Norwich, Nottingham, Leicester, Colchester, Reading, Brighton, Canterbury, Stoke-On-Trent, Leeds, Dundee, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester and Birmingham. All of these sound good to fair, except for Reading, Stoke-On-Trent and Leicester which sound poor.
All of the above are also available in various lossless and lossy formats on the internet.