19 December 1983
Electric Ballroom, London
Hand In Glove
Still Ill
Barbarism Begins At Home
This Night Has Opened My Eyes
Pretty Girls Make Graves
You've Got Everything Now
What Difference Does It Make?
Miserable Lie
This Charming Man
Back To The Old House
Reel Around The Fountain
Handsome Devil
/Accept Yourself
/This Charming Man
This concert was one of the Smiths' biggest to date, and it was a success. The band was in top form and the audience very receptive. The highlight setlist-wise was the live introduction of "Barbarism Begins At Home" which would not be released for another 14 months! "Back To The Old House" was also introduced at this show, unless it was played in Dublin 10 days earlier.

As the band hit the stage Morrissey greeted the audience with a growl of "Hello chums!" The Smiths' debut single "Hand In Glove" was performed for the first time as a set opener. It would remain in that position in the new year when the Smiths would go on their first major tour, to promote their debut album. After "Hand In Glove" Morrissey asked the crowd "Be quiet! Speak to me! Tell me!".

The debut performance of "Barbarism Begins At Home" was introduced with the words "Here's one for the bootleg friends..." The version the Smiths performed on this date was quite different to the version that was to be released more than a year later on "Meat Is Murder". The song's structure was significantly different and it included lyrics that would be dropped by the time the band would go into a studio to record it. These include lines such as "I've always been such a decent lad" or "I am the man to keep you in place". The new composition was cheered just as much as the other songs, prompting Morrissey to ask "Are you sure? Are you sure?".

Before "Pretty Girls Make Graves" Morrissey commented "It's so nice to see all these innocent faces... such innocent faces... (growls) 'Pretty Girls Make Graves'!". In "You've Got Everything Now" he added a few lyric changes to the old ones. He sang "You are your mother's only son and you're a miserable one", "a friendship sadly lost... it could be true and it could be false" and "No I've never had a job because I'm too handsome." Next, "What Difference Does It Make?" was introduced with "This is our new record... and it's a perfectly good question..." In that song Morrissey sang the slightly different "now you make me feel so ashamed because I've only got two heads".

Morrissey also changed a few words in "This Charming Man": "It's gruesome that someone so ugly should care." The unfamiliar "Back To The Old House" was introduced with the line "And now something really demonic... for you grizzly little..." After "Handsome Devil" Morrissey shouted "Goodbye! Thank you! Goodbye!" and that was the end of the main set.

A few lines into first encore "Accept Yourself" Morrissey changed some words to "I am sick and I am dull and I am thick". He was probably distracted when he sang "how dearly I would love to kick with the fray" instead of "how dearly I'd love to get carried away". The audience was then treated to a second performance of "This Charming Man". This marked the end of the concert, but also of the Smiths' first year, a period during which they went from being completely unknown to becoming one of the most promising new bands of the eighties.

The Red Guitars provided support. The Redskins were also originally on the bill, but they were replaced by Felt. Tickets were 3.00.

 


A rather good audience recording of the complete set is available from bootleg traders who usually list it as a soundboard recording, but this has yet to be confirmed. The recording is indeed very clear and crisp and does not sound like it was recorded from the audience. This is circulated in complete form from a first generation tape, but collectors should be aware that an inferior transfer from a higher generation tape is also circulated on the internet.

Quite a few bootleg LPs were produced over the years from this recording. "Live At The Electric Ballroom" and "Electric Stars" seem to date back to the late 1980s, while "Devil's Charm" with its early solo Morrissey artwork was probably manufactured in the early 1990s. None of these feature the complete set. The former two lack "What Difference Does It Make?" (or perhaps "You've Got Everything Now"), "Miserable Lie" and the encore of "This Charming Man" while the latter drops "You've Got Everything Now" and the second helping of "This Charming Man". "Live At The Electric Ballroom" is also available with this alternate cover. The first pressing mentioned above was produced on black or red vinyl while this alternate pressing was offered on multi-coloured or clear yellow vinyl. The recording available on "Devil's Charm" is paired with a concert from 6 December 1983.

"Electric Stars"/"Live At The Electric Ballroom" was later re-released on manufactured cd with this alternate artwork and bonus tracks "Wonderful Woman" and "Miserable Lie" credited respectively as being from 1983.3 and 1983.6. The Electric Ballroom portion of this bootleg has since been featured by itself on fanmade CD-Rs and can be bought or traded as such from live concert collectors. This is also found in digital format on the internet.

 

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

 

Quotes

"Do you remember when we played it at the Electric Ballroom? It was what we first came on to when we were supporting The Fall, and Mozzer had been knocking the red wine back (laughs) and we got out there - first song of the set, support band, we've got to impress - and it was about 17 minutes long (Rourke nods sadly). Mozz kept going into that middle bit (sings the yodelling bit). Fuckin' on and on. Johnny kept coming over and looking at me, and every time he did it I thought, thank God, he's going to stop it. We were knackered. I started using my feet to save energy."
- Mike Joyce on the live debut of 'Barbarism Begins At Home', Select, April 1993