This night has opened my eyes: 40 Years of The Smiths

This night has opened my eyes

Very rarely, in the daily throes of mundane mouse-clicking, do I get the prophetic feeling that I’ve experienced something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

40 years ago, to the day, to the hour, a band of four working class lads from Manchester changed the world forever: they were, and will always be, The Smiths. Founded on one simple premise: “I think it’s time the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.”

They certainly showed their faces on Tuesday. The rain fell hard on a hum-drum town as Morrissey played in his hometown on this most poignant anniversary only a mile from where it all began in 1982 at The Ritz on Whitworth Street. It was a priceless privilege to have been a part of such a momentous occasion, even in a small way. Being in the physical presence of a figure who has impressed such a positive cultural impact resurrected a pure joy like that of being a child again. What a day.

Never have I experienced first hand such devotion to an artist, and I daresay it may never be seen again. The most wonderful people, many of whom had attended countless gigs previous, traveled from far and wide; we were met with a jubilant queue the size of which Queen Elizabeth’s coffin could only have dreamed of.

There were some classics and some new numbers, the same eternal themes endure. Morrissey introduced Bonfire of Teenagers, as “A song which is about this city, regrettably”. Belting his latest ballad, he held back tears with “the foolish people sing Don’t Look Back In Anger, I promise you I will look back in anger till the day I die.” The song snipes society’s response, or lack thereof, to the 2016 Manchester Arena Bombing, and was met with a standing ovation.

Few bands from the 1980s can lay claim to having aged as well as The Smiths, who existed for so brief a time yet left such a resounding impression with cutting, kitchen-sink lyricism, paired with an often imitated but seldom replicated melodic approach to instrumentation that influenced all subsequent British music.

Thank you, Steven Patrick Morrissey, for opening the door the day Johnny Marr knocked, and thank you for everything you have given and continue to give to countless people.

“Isn’t time a funny thing?

Oh well, I thought it was…”

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