Morrissey: Wolverhampton Civic Hall (1988) Gig Is Nostalgic But Lacking Typical Polish

Billed as a dedication show to all Smiths fans, the remaining members of the band, along with guitarist Craig Gannon, played a farewell concert at the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton, England on December 22, 1988.

For a long time, this show was unavailable to the public. Now that it is, thanks to some eBay bootlegs and YouTube, I have had a chance to watch it in it's entirety, and I can see why it wasn't released commercially.

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The material is not of the quality we have become accustomed to during Morrissey's tenure with The Smiths, and throughout his solo career. But, it's nostalgic, and there are some positives.

First off, it's exciting to see Moz looking so young and sprightly, and it's the only time you'll see this band on stage together. Furthermore, with Mike Joyce on bass and Andy Rourke on drums, it's the closest you'll get to a Smiths reunion.

They open with "Stop Me..." and the band seems a bit off. Craig Gannon's guitar playing sounds unrehearsed. Morrissey sounds a bit flat and unsure as well; a rare moment for the singer.

Joyce and Rourke keep this ship afloat and the sails catch wind on "Interesting Drug."  You can hear it in Gannon's crisp finger-picking, and you see it in Mike Joyce's eyes, as he gives a confident smile, midway through the song.

"Suedehead" comes roaring in with that lead we have come to love, and the boys build steam. Thankfully Rourke's pulsing bass anchors "The Last of The Famous International Playboys," as Gannon's guitars seem to be all over the place, eventually cutting out at the end.

"Sister I'm a Poet," is the highlight of the show for me. The band sounds totally in step with Moz, and they record a version for the ages.

I could have done without "Death at One's Elbow," but "Sweet and Tender Hooligan," which was released as a b-side on his 12" single for "Interesting Drug," finishes the set in fine fashion.

For a fan of Morrissey it's a must watch! For anybody else, there are much better shows out there to see.

Tracklist:

Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before (5:56)
Disappointed (3:04)
Interesting Drug (3:28)
Suedehead (3:54)
The Last of The Famous International Playboys (3:38)
Sister I'm a Poet (2:25)
Death at One's Elbow (6:24)
Sweet and Tender Hooligan (4:12)

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