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These gigs don't form a tour. They are the first 17 concerts the Smiths played before they started doing mini college tours in the middle of 1983. For most of these shows the Smiths were the warm-up band. It is very interesting to see how in just 6 months the band went from being completely unknown to outshining the groups they were opening for.

There is reason to believe that the Glasgow concert at Nightmoves actually took place on 9 June 1983, not 10 July.

The concert reviews at this time were at best very positive and at worst curious and not indifferent. The broadcast of their first appearance on John Peel's programme at the end of May and the growing media attention attracted more and more fans, encouraging the band to organise their first college tours (next section).

The first two concerts above were done as a 5-piece band, including Morrissey friend James Maker as dancer. Dale Hibbert played bass for the first gig, Andy Rourke replaced him in between then and the second gig. So by the third concert, the final classic line up of Morrissey, Johnny Marr (guitar), Andy Rourke (bass) and Mike Joyce (drums) was fixed (until they hired Craig Gannon as second guitarist in 1986). Besides singing, Morrissey would shake a tambourine or maracas during certain numbers.


The Smiths were actually the ones supporting other bands for most of these concerts. As these dates didn't form a tour, see individual links above for more information.


Promo posters for the "Hand In Glove" single were sold in Birmingham, and perhaps at other concerts in June or July.


At their very first gig, Klaus Nomi's "The Cold Song" was played before James Maker came on stage and announced the Smiths in french. Information is unknown for the rest of these dates.


By the end of the period covered here, the typical Smiths' set as headliners included about 10 tracks (when "Hand In Glove" wasn't performed a second time as an encore). Regulars in the set were: "You've Got Everything Now", "Handsome Devil", "Reel Around The Fountain", "What Difference Does It Make?", "These Things Take Time", "I Don't Owe You Anything", "Hand In Glove", "Miserable Lie" and "Accept Yourself".

"What Do You See In Him" was performed briefly in the first part of the year, then it disappeared only to be reinstated in June with new lyrics and new title "Wonderful Woman".

"The Hand That Rocks The Cradle" was performed only on a few occasions up to the end of May. It was never to be performed again after this. "Suffer Little Children" and "I Want A Boy For My Birthday" were only played once and twice respectively, at the very first gigs, then never again. "Jeane" was also performed only once at this early stage, but it was to be reintroduced in the set occasionally in 1984 and 1985.

Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 9 concerts for which the setlist is known, plus 3 for which it is partially known.

Handsome Devil - 11
Hand In Glove - 9
Miserable Lie - 9
These Things Take Time - 9
Reel Around The Fountain - 8
What Difference Does It Make? - 8
You've Got Everything Now - 8
Accept Yourself - 6
I Don't Owe You Anything - 6
Wonderful Woman - 6
The Hand That Rocks The Cradle - 5
I Want A Boy For My Birthday - 2
What Do You See In Him? - 2
Jeane - 1
Suffer Little Children - 1

See here for more tour statistics.


At this very early stage of the Smiths' career, most of the material they wrote was immediately tested on the road. Hence many songs were works-in-progress and often sensibly different to the versions that would eventually be recorded to be released on future singles or the debut album. Good examples are heard in early performances of "What Difference Does It Make?", "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle", "Accept Yourself" and obviously "What Do You See In Him?", a blueprint of a song later released under the title "Wonderful Woman".

"Accept Yourself" contained quite a few lyrical differences to the versions that were later released. After "...time is against me now", Morrissey repeated the line in falsetto and yelped a few times, creating a strange but interesting effect. Also, plans in this early version, like dreams, "have a knack of not coming true" instead of falling through "... as so often they do". The latter song was slotted as the standard encore song (often with a second helping of "Hand In Glove") from July to the end of the year after which it was dropped from the setlist.

"These Things Take Time" was performed with the drum roll intro familiar to fans who own the aborted Troy Tate outtakes for the debut album. More interestingly, very early performances included significantly different lines in the first verse (particularly on 21 May). Standard mid-1983 opener "You've Got Everything Now" was at the time heavier on the falsetto than the version that later made it onto the debut album.

In "What Difference Does It Make?", where on the album Morrissey sang "I think I can rely on you", he then sang "I can surely rely on you". Or instead of "I'm too tired, I'm so sick and tired" (album version), or "I'm too tired, I'm so very tired" (Peel session), he originally just sang "I'm too tired, I'm so tired". Also the falsetto line at the very end of song originally was "Oh my sacred Mother" instead of the more familiar studio version's "Oh my sacred one". An early performance of "Miserable Lie" didn't yet include the line "I know the wind-swept mystical air". The "I recognise that mystical air" line was simply sung twice. In "Hand In Glove", instead of singing "but we have something they'll never have", Morrissey often sang "we have something they never had".

Even early versions of "Wonderful Woman" (as such and not as its blueprint "What Do You See In Him?") had differences with the version that would be released by the end of the year on the "This Charming Man" single. For example the lines "I ask myself / What to be said of her?" was still sung as "Ah answer me / what do be done with her". What became "and then just to pass time" was then "and then just to kill time".


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

A live version of "Hand In Glove" from 29 June was released on the 1992 cd-single reissue of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out". In early summer 1983 the Smiths recorded three songs instead of the usual four for their first session on Kid Jensen's programme on the BBC. To fill the remaining available space, they decided to play their debut single "Hand In Glove" which had just been released. When the programme was later rerun, the single version was replaced by this live version which was never released until 1992.


Both Hacienda concerts from this period were professionally filmed and the footage has made it to the bootleg trading networks. The performance on 6 July was arguably slightly better, but the footage of the 4 February show, the third time the Smiths played in front of an audience, is of invaluable historical importance. Both recordings are of excellent quality and feature many close-ups of Morrissey, Johnny, Mike and Andy.

"Handsome Devil", "Reel Around The Fountain", "Wonderful Woman" and "These Things Take Time" from the 29 June show are available on video and DVD bootlegs. The footage is quite good (when the source is close to the original) as the band was filmed from very close, sometimes from the stage, very likely by some friend of the band. Unfortunately the sound quality is not that good. In 2009 someone put on the internet a file of the same footage, but with the audience recording mentioned above replacing the video's original bad audio.


There are manufactured bootlegs of three concerts from this era out there. "The Butterfly Collector" and "Morrissey 1959-1986" feature recordings of the Smiths' third show which took place at the Manchester Hacienda on 4 February 1983. Besides being the earliest available live recording of the Smiths at this point in time, this gig is interesting for the rough early versions of the songs that were on the setlist that night. Most would transform significantly (musically and/or lyrically) by the time they would get released in studio form on the band's debut album or first few singles. It is also interesting to note that Johnny can be heard doing back vocals on that date, something that didn't last very long.

The "Reel Around The Fountain" manufactured bootleg cd features the Birmingham show from 3 June while "Wonderful Woman" and "Rock Garden 83" both feature different recordings of the 7 July concert at the Rock Garden in London. All these are of good quality.

Besides these, audience recordings of the 21 May, 29 June and 6 July concerts are reasonably easy to find in physical and digital formats, under the respective titles "Swept Mystical Air", "Tender Hearts" and "Little Charmers". However in the latter case collectors may prefer the audio from the video recording mentioned in the 'video bootlegs' section above, because it has a better sound and features the complete concert. The 21 May show will particularly be of interest to fans interested in "These Things Take Time" with different lyrics in the first verse.

Untitled fanmade cd-r's are also in circulation for the 4 June and 1 July concerts in London and Bournemouth respectively.