The Smyths @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 22/09/2017

SmythsThe term 'tribute act' is a powerful one. For some, it sends cringing shivers down the spine with crippling fervor. For others, it evokes a silly sensibility of mocking bands with wigs, make-up and reckless abandon. I find myself at the centre of this tribute act divide, having never seen a tribute act in the flesh before.

It also must be said that it’s every teenager’s dream to see The Smiths live. Find me a 17-year-old that did not share Morrissey’s moody angst while slamming the door shut to their bedroom or knows every word to “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, and I will give you £10 (maybe). So watching tribute act, The Smyths, is probably the best way to accomplish both aforementioned things.

Sporting a quiff, baggy shirt and tight jeans, Morrissey aka Graham Sampson certainly looks the part. He tells us a Facebooker had branded the band, “karaoke at best”. It’s an interesting way to kick off a show; setting the bar low.

Starting slow, the crowd and the band warm up with some of the more obscure tracks from Strangeways Here We Come. But as the drinks flow and we get into the more renowned tracks, The Smyths get better and better. The O2 Academy turns into a riotous sing-a-long for “Shoplifters of the World” and “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”. Everyone here knows every word to every song, there’s no doubt about it.

The upward trajectory continues with “Hand In Glove” as the new Morrissey unbuttons his shirt to expose a bit of shoulder and raucous attitude. It’s clear for The Smyths that the performance and stage presence is half the fun of playing tribute to The Smiths. There’s plenty of fingers wags and flailing arms that could have been taken straight out of Morrissey’s choreography textbook.

The Smyths take a 10-minute break; probably because their set is a monumental 2 hours and 15 minutes long. But the second half of their performance is wall-to-wall hits. “This Charming Man” and “Bigmouth Strikes Again” cause a clash around the stage with typical The Smiths-esque careless oomph. Technically, they deliver every track with precision. And Sampson does a good job of mimicking Morrissey's dreary yet soothing voice, although I think there's no way of recreating that true Manchester spark in quite the same way.

It’s hard for a tribute act to get away from the gimmicky label and The Smyths don't really stray too far away from it but, for as close as we can get to see The Smiths, they were a compelling fit. The crowd truly belted out The Smiths' tracks left, right and centre as they had a glimpse into an album that was never toured. The Smyths captured the spirit of The Smiths and I'm happy with that; I’m a tribute act convert.


One Response to “The Smyths @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 22/09/2017”


  1. The Smyths @ O2 Academy, Bristol, 22/09/2017 – Live List - 30/09/2017

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