‘Hello, we are the Smiths. We are not ‘Smiths,’ we are the Smiths,’ is how the 23 year-old Morrissey begins his third ever gig with the band he’s attempting to introduce to a subdued crowd at Manchester’s infamous Hacienda on 4 February 1983. His bandmates — all 19 at the time of the gig — blast into their opening number, ‘These Things Take Time.’ It is impossible to fathom that this is only their third live performance. It must be that the Smiths burst forth fully-formed from the combined superbrain of Morrissey and Johnny Marr, completely bypassing the infancy period where lesser bands attempt to find their ‘sound.’
Only four months before they took to the Hacienda’s stage, the Smiths made their live debut with bassist Dale Hibbert. It wasn’t until their second gig at Manchester’s gay club Manhattan, just ten days before this, that the classic Smiths line-up was solidified.
This footage demonstrates how tight the group were even before they recorded their first single. While the small audience barely registers in the video, the quartet on stage are all grins and flagellating gladioli. Johnny Marr mouths the lyrics to snippets of several songs and even joins Morrissey on backing vocals to ‘The Hand That Rocks The Cradle.’ It’s not farfetched to think that in three months’ time, their first single, ‘Hand In Glove,’ would be released and poised to rise up the chart. This is probably the last live footage of Morrissey that didn’t result in fans crawling onstage to maul him.
Check out the full concert video and setlist below. And check out the handsome devil with the most majestic quiff you’ll ever see.
These Things Take Time (listen for alternate lyrics)
What Difference Does It Make?
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle (now with Johnny Marr backing vocals!)
What Do You See In Him? (an early version of ‘Wonderful Woman’)
Hand In Glove