4 October 1982
Ritz, Manchester
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
Suffer Little Children
Handsome Devil
I Want A Boy For My Birthday
The Smiths were supporting Blue Rondo A La Turk. Also on the bill ("An Evening Of Pure Pleasure!") were designers, a drag artist and a dance troupe. The band was well received by the portion of the audience who showed up because they were friends with Johnny Marr. It wasn't so much so with the Blue Rondo A La Turk fans.

The Smiths at this point in time were Morrissey, Johnny Marr, Mike Joyce and Dale Hibbert. The latter was soon to be replaced by Andy Rourke. Morrissey friend James Maker danced on stage in women's shoes (Maker refutes they were stilettos as rumour has it) and shook maracas while the band performed. Maker, from his "Autofellatio" book: "Morrissey invited me to appear with The Smiths as a guest. I was to present them in French, to dance in a ‘cool and understated manner’ – within the chalked circle he had drawn for me – and to sing backing vocals on What Do You See In Her? I was also given a pair of maraccas. Handing an hispanophile a pair of maraccas at short notice is perhaps not the wisest of ideas, I think I may have overdone it on one of the songs. The high heels component was not borne of camp or frivolity but of an intellectual devotion that originates in the revolutionary sexual apparence of The New York Dolls. I also wore them because I felt like it."

After Klaus Nomi's "The Cold Song", Maker introduced the band. The Smiths played in front of the stage. Because they were forbidden to change the equipment set up, Morrissey had to crouch to be able to sing into the microphone which was set too low. Mike Joyce accidentally split the skin of his snare drum during "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle". This is possibly the only time "Suffer Little Children" was performed live. Maker reports in his Autofellatio book that the set started with "Reel Around The Fountain", but he had the song mixed up with "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" because Johnny Marr wrote "Reel Around The Fountain" in early 1983. This was confirmed by Dale Hibbert.

In a 2009 interview, Johnny Marr said "When we did the first Smiths gig here my main memories of it were terror and vast emptiness as there was only about 11 people here. I remember that I was so nervous and as I walked up the stage I banged the end of my guitar, I heard this clang and it went completely out of tune. I thought to myself 'This is either a really bad omen for the rest of my potential career or maybe I’ve got rid of some of the bad luck right now'. It was a really inauspicious start to my career."

A detailed eyewitness account of the first three Smiths gigs, published in the June 2004 issue of Mojo, can be read from scans at Morrissey Scans.


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