4 February 1983
Hacienda, Manchester
These Things Take Time
What Difference Does It Make?
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
Handsome Devil
Jeane
What Do You See In Him?
Hand In Glove
Miserable Lie
The Smiths were booked with 52nd Street, a funk band on Factory Records and most people in the audience were present to see the headliners, not the support group. The concert was part of a series at that period exposing what the Hacienda thought was "the best of Manchester". Other bands to have appeared in the preceding weeks were The Chameleons and James who have also become quite famous since then.

This was a good show, surely a milestone in the Smiths' history. Despite being the support band, the Smiths' passionate performance managed to catch the attention of the audience. It was already clear that they were destined to become a great band. They made more than just a few new fans that would eventually spread the word and come to see them again. Morrissey thought the Hacienda was too grey and had the place filled with flowers, beginning a recognisable tradition (fans bringing flowers) that would last many years.

As the band took the stage Morrissey greeted the audience by saying "Hello... We are the Smiths. We are not 'Smiths', we are the Smiths. 'These Things Take Time'...." Following the latter set opener he simply said "Oh thank you" then the band launched into "What Difference Does It Make?". Within a year the song would be released as a single and make it onto the band's debut album. At this point it was played slower and featured slightly different lyrics. For example instead of "I'm so sick and tired" (album) or "I'm so very tired" (Peel session), Morrissey simply sang "I'm so tired". Also, Morrissey sang "Oh my sacred Mother in falsetto at the end, instead of the more familiar "Oh my sacred one".

Next up was "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" and it was introduced by Morrissey with a simple drop of its title. This song also featured different lyrics to the version which would be released on the band's debut album. The outro of "as long as there's love / I did my best for her" was absent and a line was then sung as "your mother she need never know". Right before "Handsome Devil" Morrissey said: "I repeat: the only thing to be in 1983 is handsome... 'Handsome Devil'." The next track was probably seeing its live debut and was simply introduced as "Jeane!". Strangely it would not be performed for long, it was soon to be dropped from the setlist until the Smiths reinstated it when touring the debut album more than a year later.

The performance of "What Do You See In Him?" was a very passionate one. The song would not remain in the Smiths' set for long. After being dropped for a few months it would re-emerge in June as "Wonderful Woman", with the same music, but different lyrics. The song that would become the Smiths debut single was then introduced with a slowly articulated "Hand. In. Glove." It was also performed very passionately, and seems to have woken the audience into paying attention to the yet unknown opening band. The song was well received and this prompted Morrissey to shyly say "Oh you're very kind... thank you..."

The evening's final number was then announced twice as "Miserable Lie". The song's early lyrics didn't yet include the line "I know the wind-swept mystical air" while the line "I recognise that mystical air" was sung twice. Instead of "I'm just a country-mile behind the world" Morrissey sang "I'd run a hundred miles away from you". After the song Morrissey simply said "Bye bye..." twice and the band left the stage while a few new converts cheered and whistled.

A review written by Jim Shelley and published in the NME a month and a half later had only good words for the Smiths: "THE THING to be, in 1983, is ... handsome.' And so The Smiths' performance began, in suitably confident manner. And from there they went from strength to strength.
Like some harsh collision between the grand design of Magazine, the strange ways of Josek K and the taut tension of Fire Engines, the four Smiths were proud and powerful, pale and angular, a formidable and inventive force. Their sound - a fine, fierce combination of tight drums, hidden walls of guitar and the deepest of bass-lines - proved to be a suitably refined, aggressive setting for the searing wail and majestic poetry of their enigmatic vocalist.
'Miserable Lie', the obvious highlight, seemed to aim at a grandeur, a rare raw power, that perhaps only Magazine have ever achieved, and it seemed that Magazine's magnificent example - off-hand, discomforting, beyond easy comparison - was a major inspiration here.
As commanding and restrained as this, The Smiths should soon be capable of reaching the greatest of heights. Oh yes! The Smiths were HANDSOME.".

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.

Tickets were 1.50 in advance and 2.50 at the door.

 


A live recording of "Handsome Devil" from this show was released on the b-side of "Hand In Glove", the band's debut single.

 


Bootlegs of this concert are at this point in time the only way fans can get their hands on live performances of "What Do You See In Him?", a blueprint of the song that would later resurface as "Wonderful Woman". The song was never released in its early incarnation, and it wasn't played very often, if at all, after this date.

The show was professionally filmed but the footage was never broadcast, although there were rumours to that effect at some point. After spending years in the hands of a few lucky fans and collectors, the recording was finally shared on the internet in 2009. Although there are better performances by the Smiths out there, this recording is of invaluable historical importance because it shows the band the third time they ever played in front of an audience.

So recordings of this concert are the earliest ones for the Smiths. All the bootlegs being circulated for this date feature the audio ripped from the video footage mentioned above. However collectors will prefer the recent conversions, as the older ones found on most manufactured and 'titled' bootlegs lack the intro and first verse of set opener "These Things Take Time". After the video recording finally leaked in 2009, the audio was ripped again and this time didn't lack the intro to "These Things Take Time".

The most common manufactured bootleg "The Butterfly Collector" pairs a good quality transfer of the recording with another one from 21 April 1984, but as mentioned above, it lacks the first verse of "These Things Take Time". The sound quality on "Morrissey 1959-1986" is slightly better than on "The Butterfly Collector", but the second half of "Miserable Lie" is also missing. The latter bootleg also features 3 tracks from Kilburn 23 October 1986, the 1986 Peel sessions of "London" and "Half A Person" as well as the audio for "Sheila Take A Bow" and "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" from television programme The Tube in 1987. "Wilde About Morrissey" is a bootleg LP also found on fanmade cd-r's. It sounds good, but features the same incomplete set as "Morrissey 1959-1986", plus seven tracks from 12 March 1984.

The bootleg LP titled "Hacienda" features the same recording, but in poorer quality. It was repressed on a bootleg LP in 2005 under the title "Handsome Devil". The bootleg 7" simply titled "The Smiths" features "Jeane" and "What Do You See In Him?" along with a 28 September 1985 performance of "What's The World". The rarity "What Do You See In Him?" is also found by itself with other material on the bootlegs "The Cradle Snatchers" (with 5 radio sessions, 11 Troy Tate outtakes and a soundcheck of "Purple Haze" from 16 July 1986), "Reel Around The Fountain" (with 3 Troy Tate outtakes, 3 radio sessions and a 3 June 1983 concert) as well as on the mixed content bootleg "A Nice Bit Of Meat" available on CD and LP.

"Wilde About The Smiths", a factory pressed cd in digipack, features "Hand In Glove" from this concert with many other live tracks, rarities and radio sessions. "Shoplifters From Manchester", a manufactured bootleg cd, features "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" along with Troy Tate outtakes, radio sessions as well as live material from 6 December 1983, 12 March 1984, 21 April 1984, 4 May 1984 and 26 August 1986. "Boyfriend In A Coma", a LP reissue of "Shoplifters From Manchester" with fewer tracks, features "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" along with Troy Tate outtakes, radio sessions as well as live material from 6 December 1983, 12 March 1984, 21 April 1984, 4 May 1984 and 26 August 1986.

A 2009 bootleg LP titled "Blessings Of The Highest Order" features "Hand In Glove" from this show.

Most of the bootlegs mentioned above are available on file sharing networks.

 

Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.