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The Smyths at the O2 Academy 23rd September 2016

Honing your craft as a tribute act is a lot harder than you may think. To do it for a band with a unique a sound as The Smiths is even harder again. Which is why I was so impressed by The Smyths who showcased exactly that on Friday night at the O2 Academy. Their mantra is to give Smiths fans the same experience they’d get from seeing the band themselves and believe me, this is as close as you’re going to get to the real thing.

Their bumper two hour set included a mammoth 28 songs! A set that included all of Smiths’ album The Queen is Dead. This current tour is celebrating it’s 30th anniversary after all. Tracks from the tour’s name sake did not kick off the night however as Hand in Glove began proceedings closely followed by Heaven Knows.

I was skeptical about the music of The Smiths being the right fit for a Friday night but was proved wrong very quickly. Those first two songs set the upbeat tone for the night and subsequent tracks Panic and Frankly Mr Shankly only led to me being even more pleasantly surprised.

Cue the first big crowd participation moment of the night. The opening bars of There is a Light That Never Goes Out sent the Academy crowd into a frenzy, and why wouldn’t it? Possibly the biggest song from The Queen is Dead and on of the biggest from the entire Smiths’ catalogue.

After those in attendance were given a much needed breather The Smyths returned for more of the same. More of The Queen is Dead’s greatest hits opened act two starting with The Boy with a Thorn in his Side closely followed by Big

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before prompted the second sing-a-long of the evening. It was at that point that I was pleasantly surprised for the second time that evening. Upon looking around I noticed the eclectic mix of people all under one roof to see a band perform the music of The Smiths. In particular the amount of young people considering the band being paid homage to broke up in 1987.

Charming Man kept the good times going despite being the 26th song of the night. Then came the unscripted highlight. Some guitar trouble on stage led to ’Morrissey’ breaking out an instrument-less rendition of Please Let Me Get What I Want. Everyone under the Academy’s roof joined in which in turn made for a hauntingly beautiful performance of the classic.

How Soon is Now closed out the night and you’d be hard pushed to claim you didn’t get your money’s worth. All of The Queen is Dead plus more, all performed by a band that have devoted their careers to not just sounding like The Smiths but being the next best thing in every way. They’ll be playing Bath next month and return to Bristol next year, either way if you missed them this time do not make the same mistake again.

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