"The Charm School"

by Frank Worrall
Melody Maker December 3, 1983 Pg. 20

The Smiths
Manchester Hacienda

It had never been a matter of if, just when. But even The Smiths themselves must have been surprised at the massive extent of their arrival in the big time tonight. They were queuing round the block and back again and the 1500 capacity Hacienda was so packed you couldn't move your hand to get rid of a twitch on your leg!

The charming men had dashed from "TOTP" in London to be with us, but there was never any sign of fatigue or anti-climax. In fact, it turned out to be just about the most committed, thrilling and ultimately most inspiring performance I've witnessed this year. And up in the balcony, the bands mums and grandmums were here to make it a real family homecoming!

This was the Smiths' cup final; their triumph from being just the boys next door to superhumans we can look up to for a bit of light and warmth in the dark cold days ahead. The Hacienda, which regulars complain is always like a morgue, was transformed into a wonderfully bizarre Garden of Eden, with plants and flowers all over the place. The audience, all keyed up with the greenery around them, were waiting with bated breath for the botanical men to appear.

And then, in a brilliant masterstroke, they were there in front of us- not on stage, but being filmed live on video in the dressing room! Morrissey, flowers in hand of course, pouted his face and blew a coy kiss at the camera. The crowd plunged to the front of the stage like a senseless bull under threat of death.

Even before they took the stage girls were being pulled aside for treatment aft er fainting and too much screaming. Talk about the Beatles! Clearly, The Smiths will go a long long way - but not just because they've come up with a unique image and loveable appeal.

These flowerpower people have got a bagful of marvellously strong songs to back up their claims for a place in your hearts!

It means that their set is not simply a long list of twee pop songs. There's hidden depth, considerable variety and poignant emotion in Morrissey's sensitive lyrics. His voice - ranging from an irresistible whine to hard hitting deliveries - provided the perfect complement.

But let's not forget the dramatic rythmic machine behind him. The Smiths are, after all, where they are because they are a glorious team. Obviously Morrissey will snatch the headlines but he probably will only be half the talent he is without those whirling guitar sounds and that thumping rhythm section.

Favourite moments: An uplifting "Hand In Glove" with Morrissey offering flowers to his disciples; a touching song "Jeanne" and; of course a bubbling "This Charming Man" that threatened to lift the roof off with everyone singing along.

But the icing on the cake came when Morrissey clenched a bouquet and waved it proudly at the flushed relatives above him. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. Handsome one, Morrissey!