Next Friday at Reggies Rock Club the Handsome Devilz will be paying tribute to The Smiths. The 80’s English band originally consisting to Johnny Marr (guitars) Morrissey (vocals), Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums). Critics have hailed their importance in the alternative rock scene of the 80’s and England and countless other acts have gone on to cite The Smiths as influential. The Smith’s are probably best known for Morrissey’s mopey love tales (and rhetorical questions for lyrics) and Marr’s catchy guitar hooks. The group split in 1987 and no longer plays together citing a variety of reasons, such as “we are not friends.” Ouch! Johnny Marr was the first to leave the group, Morrissey has never really forgiven him for that.
Despite numerous efforts to get the group back together, including efforts by Coachella promoters and VH1 television series, have all been flops. So, I guess seeing Handsome Devilz will have to do. I guess now would be a good time to explain why I care.
The Smiths were my first “favorite” band when I was about 16. In my small town, The Smiths were not something blasting from the all the Chevy Cavaliers. I think the other kids were listening to “The Thong Song,” seriously. I am not claiming superiority over the other 16 year old’s of the day, but I just loved that music and lyrics. It seemed so real, so personal, so true. (“Burn down the disco–Hang the blessed DJ–Because the music that they constantly play–Its says nothing to me about my life.”) And it was old. And no one knew it. It wasn’t until I went to college that I could really let my Smiths hang loose. I once left a note on someones car because it was covered in Smiths bumper stickers. And not Morrissey solo. No, no, no. The magic, for me, was in that combo. Morrissey and Marr were totally my Lennon and McCartney!
I talked to a few other friends about a Smith’s cover band, and we all agreed on one thing: the bar is high. Almost any band with any loyal following has a cover band or tribute band, whatever. (Or if you are the Grateful Dead, you have 170.) But it seems as though the Smiths fans might be a little more weary and cautious. Or maybe we all just wanted the ship to go down with The Smiths. As for me, I can always listen to Johnny Marr play and Morrissey sing. “I like it here, can I stay?”