The Smiths reunion – what difference does it make?

Speculation recently surfaced that The Smiths could be set to re-form for the return of Glastonbury Festival in 2013.

Speculation recently surfaced that The Smiths could be set to re-form for the return of Glastonbury Festival in 2013. The band, who split in 1987, have often been linked with a reunion, however, these rumours were always borne more out of the hopes of their legions of diehard fans than any tangible evidence.

Morrissey, The Smiths’ enigmatic former front-man, has always stringently denied the possibility of renewing his ties with the rest of the band; guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke, and drummer Mike Joyce. 

Widely accepted as the most important alternative rock band of their time, The Smiths are pioneers of the Indie genre which bred such bands as Oasis and The Arctic Monkeys, alongside many, many others. In 2007, an incredible £40million was offered by a consortium in an attempt to persuade Morrissey and Marr to tour again, under the name of The Smiths, and it was made clear that the other two members were not required. That Morrissey and Marr were The Smiths, with Rourke and Joyce merely inessential add-ons, is a long-established fact, further indicated by this offer. Of course, the offer was rejected, and no tour took place. 

In light of the recent Glasto rumours, Morrissey’s publicist released a statement, the crux of which stated, in no uncertain terms, that ‘The Smiths will NEVER get back together’. So, there we have it.

The fuss generated by these rumours made me think: if the band were to get back together, how would I feel? The re-birth of my favourite band – the reconciliation of two of my biggest heroes – would surely be one of the highlights of my short life so far? Then I thought again, and ‘what-if’s began to creep into my thinking: could I really cope with the duo whose genius has soundtracked the last few years of my life sullying their reputation with lacklustre performances motivated by monetary gain? The more I thought about it, the more reasons I discovered both for and against a reunion.

So, let’s begin by looking at reasons in support a reunion. Of course it would be incredible to witness Morrissey and Marr on stage, together, performing the stunning songs that they co-wrote so long ago. I’m certain that my excitement would dissolve any cynical thoughts that could appear regarding their intentions, and even if their performance was terrible, my blind loyalty would dictate that I wouldn’t hear a bad word said about them. Let’s face it, Marr could play a single chord whilst Morrissey croons the theme-tune to ‘Postman Pat’, and that’d be enough for me; it’d still be the best day of my life.

The key to a successful reunion is timing, and what better time for Morrissey, with his iconic hairstyle, to return to the band that made his name, than now, during the ‘quiff renaissance’ that seems to be ongoing? I very much doubt that Moz would team his quiff with Topman chinos, and spend all of his time in Nandos, though, but the point still stands.

Band reunions have become incredibly popular, and lucrative, with many successful tours taking place, earning artists and record labels huge sums of money. The Stone Roses did it to great success, and Pulp’s set at Leeds Festival in 2011 remains to this day the best gig that I’ve attended. Even Steps managed to pull off a profitable reunion.

The fan-base is undoubtedly there, and a reunion gig, wherever the venue, would sell out in minutes, making the lives of thousands upon thousands of fanatics who worship the ground that Morrissey and Marr walk upon. Selfishly, one of the main reasons why I long for The Smiths to return, would be the re-introduction of the band to a wider consciousness. Despite their hugely passionate fans, The Smiths aren’t universally well-known, and this fact has resulted in many bemused looks as I make reference to songs, or deliver daft puns based on Morrissey’s lyrics. I laughed for weeks at my ‘that yolk isn’t runny anymore’ pun, delivered in a faux-Morrissey croon, as my housemate overcooked her boiled egg. She, sadly, had never heard The Smiths’ song ‘That Joke isn’t Funny Anymore’, and thought I was strange. Anything that can remove these instances of misunderstanding gets my full and wholehearted support.

So now, onto the reasons against a reunion; the main one being that neither Morrissey nor Marr have shown any desire to re-form. As such, if they were to play festivals it would be solely for one last pay day. They’d be milking the name of the band I love, as though it were a mere cash cow.  Of course, their motivation isn’t really that important, as long as they put on a good show, but it wouldn’t say much for either member’s artistic integrity.

The Smiths chose their name due to its ordinariness. They sought to differentiate themselves from the pretentiously-named bands of the time, and to revel in their own simplicity. This desire to represent ordinary folk is simply irrelevant to them these days, as Morrissey’s life is so far removed from the days of relative humble living as The Smiths first began to gain popularity. Something about Morrissey preaching about the everyman from his high tower of wealth and popularity wouldn’t sit right with me.

Another factor that suggests that a reunion would not be a good idea, is Morrissey’s temperament. The passionate vegetarian has, in the past, abandoned a gig due to the distant smell of bacon, and often courts controversy with outlandish statements. These are all well and good when he’s playing solo shows to an adoring crowd, who are there solely to see him and can accept his idiosyncrasies, but could be disastrous when Marr’s also on stage with him, and they have to share the limelight in a huge wave of media publicity. The British press treat Morrissey with disdain already, quoting his every controversial remark, and portraying him as a miserable old man, whilst failing to acknowledge his genius. This would only worsen if The Smiths re-formed and thrust him further into the limelight.

A final factor that, for me, suggests that The Smiths perhaps shouldn’t reunite, is Coachella Festival’s promise to go meat-free to tempt them; anyone who has attended a festival will know that their experience would be ruined without a hangover bacon butty. It simply wouldn’t be right. So, there we have it. There are a number of reasons both for and against The Smiths playing together again, but one thing’s for sure: if they were to re-form, I wouldn’t miss seeing them for the world!