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The Night the Smiths Debuted Five Songs at the Magnum Leisure Centre, Irvine


Despite its vast contributions to popular music (Gallagher and Lyle, Biffy Clyro, Trashcan Sinatras, etc.), Ayrshire is a little off the beaten track when it comes to live performances by major acts.

Nevertheless, occasionally, big names do show up, usually before they are discovered. For example, on the 8th of November, 1969, David Bowie played the Grand Hall Kilmarnock (capacity 900). At that time, Bowie was of course still struggling to establish himself. It is much rarer for big names to play an Ayrshire venue after they make the big time, but it occasionally happens, as it did when the Smiths played the Irvine Magnum Leisure Centre in 1985.

When The Smiths played there on September 22, 1985, not only were they at the height of their fame, but they debuted five new songs, namely "What's The World (James)," "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side," "Frankly, Mr Shankly," "Bigmouth Strikes Again," and "Rusholme Ruffians."


The full set list is as follows:

Shakespeare's Sister
I Want The One I Can't Have 2:48
What She Said 6:08
What's The World (James)(Live Debut) 9:00
Nowhere Fast 11:06
The Boy With The Thorn In His Side (Live Debut) 13:57
Frankly, Mr Shankly (Live Debut) 17:40
Oscillate Wildly (Snippet) 20:33
Bigmouth Strikes Again (Live Debut) 20:54
That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore 25:06
Stretch Out And Wait 29:42
Still ill 33:07
(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame/
Rusholme Ruffians (Live Debut) 36:45
How Soon Is Now? 39:39
The Headmaster Ritual 45:18
Meat Is Murder 49:59
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now 56:19
Hand In Glove 1:00:02
William, It Was Really Nothing 1:02:59
Miserable Lie 1:05:35

The multipurpose leisure facility known as the Magnum.
Tickets on the night were £5. The show started at 7:30 with support from Leftie Indie rockers Easterhouse.

This review of the gig is from Morrissey fan site Passions Just Like Mine:
The Smiths were very well received in Irvine who were not used to being treated to bands of such caliber. Both the Smiths and the audience were very energetic. Morrissey growled his words and took liberties with some melodies while Marr improvised intros, outros or other song parts. Reviews for this concert were very positive. Many fans made it on stage, especially during the encores. This concert saw the live debut of current single "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" as well as "Frankly Mr Shankly" and "Bigmouth Strikes Again" which would not be released until the summer of 1986 on the "The Queen Is Dead" album. "Rusholme Ruffians" was played for the first time with an intro of the first verse of Elvis' "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame". This pairing would remain until the end of the Queen Is Dead tour (and thus the Smiths' live career). The Smiths also started doing James' "What's The World", a song they would never record in the studio and only play on this short tour of Scotland.

After the usual intro of Prokofiev's "March Of The Capulets", the band entered stage, Morrissey growled "Hhhhelllo!... Guess who?" and the band launched into a very rocking version of "Shakespeare's Sister". In the song Morrissey would keep on growling lines here and there. He was obviously in a very good mood. After the cover of James' "What's The World", Morrissey said "Ha ha hahaha... that was written by somebody else!" This unfamiliar song was followed by "Nowhere Fast" before the band returned to more unfamiliar material, a trio of new compositions played live for the first time.

First off "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" was introduced with "This is our new single...". After that Morrissey said "This is a new song... and it's called... it's called... 'Frankly Mr Shankly'." The song was wildly cheered, prompting Morrissey to exclaim, in typical self-depreciatory manner "Oh you didn't like it, don't pretend that you did." He then introduced the other new number "This song is called 'Bigmouth Strikes Again'." Then strangely, Johnny started picking on his guitar notes from the never played live instrumental "Oscillate Wildly". He finally started playing the now familiar, but then unknown infamous rocking intro to "Bigmouth Strikes Again". After that, Morrissey said "This song was far too good for them". In "Stretch Out And Wait", Morrissey changed a line to "Ignore all the silly codes of the day", something he would be doing for the rest of this song's live existence.

After "How Soon Is Now?", the band left the stage. The crowd started cheering and chanting the band back. The chant eventually became a "Johnny Marr! Johnny Marr!" chant until the man in question had his guitar ready and the first notes of "The Headmaster Ritual" were heard. At the end of that song the crowd started cheering and clapping hands but the band went back for a few bars, then ended it again. The whole thing was probably improvised, but it sounded as if they meant to do it like that. Next up was "Meat Is Murder", which was cleverly introduced by Morrissey with the words "Just remember one thing dear friends... next time you bite into that big fat sausage, you're eating somebody's MOTHER!".

Returning for the second encore, Morrissey said "Thank you... thank you to you many people who traveled... over hills and dales... was it worth it? I don't know..." In "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now", the crowd sang along with Morrissey, filling in when mayhem at the front kept him away from his microphone. They even sang Marr's jangling at some point in the bridge of the song!

Coming back on stage again for the third encore, Morrissey thanked the audience for their incredible welcome "Thank you you've been very nice... so have we...". They sang along again with Morrissey in "William, It Was Really Nothing". There were more and more people getting on stage or trying to, this is probably the reason why Morrissey distractedly skipped 4 lines in "Miserable Lie."

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