Rick Astley and Blossoms perform The Smiths at the Forum
For Smiths fans, there is no shortage of tribute bands: Sweet and Tender Hooligans, The Handsome Devils, The Smiths Indeed and This Charming Band, to name a few, bring life to music that has moved generations.
Saturday night’s spontaneous ensemble is comprised of vocalist Rick Astley, best known for his 1987 single Never Gonna Give You Up, alongside Stockport five-piece Blossoms. Appearing onstage to the theme of Coronation Street (it doesn’t get more Northern than that!), they kick things off with What Difference Does It Make, backed by a huge audience cheer. Written across the drum are the words “marry me” – a familiar sight; it was smeared on Morrissey’s chest on Top of the Pops 1984. Bigmouth Strikes Again is the jangly track we know so well, defined by its spirited guitar riffs, and played brilliantly by Josh Dewhurst. Bequiffed, and dressed in a dark blazer and yellow-black gingham trousers, Astley emulates Morrissey’s actions during The Smiths’ heyday, complete with swinging microphone and gladioli affectionately thrown into the crowd. All the classics are here, and the set list shines.
Whether it’s during the roof-raising Ask or bass-induced Barbarism Begins at Home, the singer-songwriter and his collaborators have the songs down to a T. Astley later thanks Blossoms for working their fingers to the bone. Surprise track Reel Around the Fountain, a sombre affair transformed by the crowd’s optimistic singalong, is an early highlight. Some tunes like Cemetery Gates are cut short, perhaps due to the poor sound quality, where the vocals are drowned by volume in the venue. The bass and iridescent guitar on Some Girls Are Bigger than Others are very Smithsy, setting in stone that though this concert may have been relatively impromptu, it’s a combination that works extremely well. Even Morrissey approves, leaving a positive comment on his website.
The group go as far as to include a rendition of Well I Wonder, a track neither Morrissey nor Marr ever play solo, but which is rendered beautifully here, complete with rain sound effects. Fan favourites How Soon Is Now, This Charming Man and There Is a Light that Never Goes Out complete the encore, everyone belting out the lyrics.
Filled to the rafters, the evening evokes great karaoke – fun, nostalgia-filled and memorable. One thing can be said for sure, it is a fantastic effort, and a sure-fire sign that The Smiths will live on forever.
Photos: Virginie Viche
Watch Rick Astley and Blossoms perform Reel Around the Fountain here: