The Smyths @ The Ritz, Manchester 24/02/17


The Smyths formed in 2003 out of a passion for the music of the great band The Smiths. The Smyths was born on the principal that they didn’t want to become a silly or cheesy tribute band but a homage to the band they love and a recreation of a real Smiths gig.

Since then, they have enjoyed great success in the UK and overseas, playing at festivals and making TV appearances worldwide. They are recognised as being in the top tier of tribute acts in the world and  have secured their status as the Smiths tribute band.

On Friday night, the band’s ‘Strangeways, Here We Come tour’ brought them to the home of The Smiths, Manchester. The Ritz is a historic venue that they have played numerous times before.

The Smyths were faced with a tough task: to impress an audience of mancunian Smiths fans who were expecting an immersive ‘The Smiths live’ show. The Smiths never managed to play their final album Strangeways, Here We Come as the demise of the band came shortly after it’s release.

The Smyths played the LP in full but their setlist was still littered with hits and a couple from the back catalogue. It totalled a staggering 27 songs with an mid-way interval and an encore. So the revellers got to hear a few more than the 1987 album’s 10 tracks.

The band were captivating to watch, with their very own Morrissey leading the way with the rest of the quartet’s enthusiasm almost equally engaging. Being the Morrissey in a Smiths tribute band could all go so tragically the wrong with all the man’s defining characteristics, from the one-of-a-kind voice to the slinky demeanour to the famed quiff. But it all seems to come so naturally to Graham. He possesses the frame, the face and the hair of a 1985 Steven Morrissey despite being well into his forties. And his voice is as close to an utterly unique one as you might ever come across.

That’s the great thing about The Smyths – it isn’t a silly tribute with faked singing voices and fancy dress shop wigs, it’s just a genuine homage to a great band. It’s a recreation rather than an impersonation. I would urge any fan of The Smiths not to miss the chance to see this band live. Yes ok, they might not be The Smiths, but they are certainly the next best thing.