If I had somehow slipped into a coma last Friday night and been transported in this state of mind to Bar Bodega and awoken at around 10.00pm, I would have assumed that it was in fact 1986. The reason for this is that on Friday night Morrissey and the rest of the Smiths were all playing together again at Bodega.
Ok, so it wasn’t the actual Smiths. I don’t care. Because the Salford Lads Club are as close as I’ll ever get to seeing the now defunct Smiths play, since they broke up in 1987. And if I had closed my eyes on Friday night I would have believed that I was listening to them, because the Salford Lads Club did such an amazing job of recreating their sound that it was really quite freaky. For those of you wondering who the hell The Smiths were, they were an eighties post-punk pop-rock quintet from Manchester, with an extremely camp lead singer who sang about boredom, love, and the average problems of life.
I was going to write about the deontological issue of being in a tribute band (as of course the Salford Lads Club are), and the artistic relevance of playing someone else’s music, and how it is really an exercise in technical proficiency, but after seeing the Salford Lads Club play I think such issues are irrelevant.
Friday’s show illuminated what a tribute band should be. They were a mad celebration of everything about The Smiths and their music. The Salford Lads Club have lovingly learnt to reproduce a perfect mellifluously depressing rendition of virtually any Smiths song you can name, from ‘This Charming Man’ to ‘The Queen is Dead’ to ‘Some Girls are Bigger Than Others’, as well as learning and imitating every idiosyncratic stage move and mannerism that one would have seen at a Smiths show. As at Smiths shows there were flowers thrown, razor-tongue talk from singer Adrian/Morrissey, and general mayhem and fun.
The sound quality (surprisingly for Bodega) contributed to the music enormously, with everything coming through very clearly and cleanly, and no instrument or vocal part dominating any other. What’s more, the audience seemed to be extremely enamoured with the show and it helped to enhance the atmosphere exponentially. Everyone was singing along and many people were dancing and tossing flowers, with many audience members literally getting in on the act as the microphone danced among the front row of the crowd. What stood out above all else was the unequivocal accuracy with which singer Adrian reproduced Morrissey’s vocals, and this uncanny likeness combined with a brilliant backing band pushed the Salford Lads Club beyond being an insignificant covers band into their own realm of tributary rapture.