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After a month's break, the Smiths returned to England for a proper tour, it would turn out to be the band's final one. A one-off Anti-Apartheid concert on 12 December at the Brixton Academy was the only live date the band played together after this leg. It was originally due to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on 14 November 1986 but it had to be rescheduled following Johnny's car accident.
The concerts were generally very well received by the press, but critics were at the same time wondering if the Smiths, with their greater confidence and ease on stage and harder sound were not turning into rock monsters, like many of their contemporaries. There definitely was a significant difference with the original 4 guys against the world led by a more fragile Morrissey of 1983 or 1984.
Craig Gannon was Smith #5, he backed Johnny as a second guitarist.
All of latest album "The Queen Is Dead" was played every night except for "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others", which would only be played once on the final date in December, and "Never Had No One Ever" which was skipped on a few occasions. Other newer tracks included recent single "Panic" and the yet to be released "Is It Really So Strange". "Ask" was released as a single during this period. It was reintroduced in the set for these dates after having been dropped on the earlier North American tour in favour of more familiar songs released over that territory.
The "Meat Is Murder" album was represented only by "I Want The One I Can't Have", the "Rusholme Ruffians" medley with Elvis' "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame", the "What She Said" medley with "Rubber Ring" and the title track. "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" was only played twice, on the first and final dates. The only other songs in the set were "How Soon Is Now" and "Still Ill" played regularly and "Shakespeare's Sister" played twice. "Stretch Out And Wait", "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" were dropped altogether. It is interesting to note that this is the only time during which "Hand In Glove" was not a fixture in the Smiths' sets.
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency.
The Queen Is Dead - 12
* "Rusholme Ruffians" was done once without the intro of "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame".
See here for more tour statistics.
In "The Queen Is Dead", Morrissey sometimes sang "stuck like a boar between arches" instead of "hemmed in like a boar between arches". As he sang the title line in the latter song, Morrissey pulled out a board saying THE QUEEN IS DEAD which he waved about for the rest of the song. In "Panic" another prop was used, this time a noose which Morrissey swung around to highlight the "Hang the DJ!" lyric. Despite not being slotted as set opener anymore, that song was still usually performed with an extended drum intro. "Bigmouth Strikes Again" was played with a slightly longer intro as well, and the song's ending was extended by repeating the final line. Actually because it usually ended the set, the band would often end it in an extended noisy jam.
Near the end of "London", Morrissey often sang "my God he goes!" instead of "he really goes!". In "Still Ill", as on many occasions in the past, he emphasized a line by extended it to "If I were you, I really wouldn't bother". At the end of "Meat Is Murder" he sang the slightly alternate line "and who cares if animals die". In "Is It Really So Strange?" he sang "Oh yes you can kick me" where in the studio version he sang "Oh yes you can punch me", and vice versa.
Near the end of performances of "I Know It's Over", Morrissey often curled into fetal position on the floor with his shirt pulled over his head. Johnny often started "Meat Is Murder" with a slowed-down version of the verse of "The Headmaster Ritual". Mike occasionally also teased the audience, usually with the opening notes of "Reel Around The Fountain", but once also with the opening drum beat of "Panic".
Some bootleg VHS and DVD compilations of television material feature the Morrissey interview broadcast on the Rock Of Europe aka Music Box show on Holland's Superchannel. The programme also includes footage of the Smiths's encore "Bigmouth Strikes Again" from Carlisle.
Of the other bootlegs offered for this period, none really stand out from the others. Their quality vary from average to quite good, and most feature complete shows. The 24 October gig at Brixton Academy is very easy to find, particularly on the 'official' "Genius Steals" bootleg, but that date wasn't the highlight of the tour. It does include "Shakespeare's Sister" however, a song that was played only that night and the next. Similarly, fans might want to look out for bootlegs of the 30 October gig in Manchester for a rare performance of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore".
The other gigs from this period available on bootlegs at this point in time (without including the audio lifted from video bootlegs) are the following: 14 October in Middlesbrough, 15 October in Wolverhampton, 17 October in Cornwall, 18 October in Gloucester, 19 October in Newport, 21 October in Nottingham, 26 October at London Palladium and 27 October in Preston.
All the bootlegs mentioned in this section can be found in digital format on the internet, some more easily than others.