Yesterday (26 April) saw fresh speculation that The Smiths had cast aside their famous differences and were set to reform for a tour later this year. It was quickly quashed by Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce, who are probably more reliable sources on the matter than
the crappy website that ran the original story.
Despite the story originating from a clearly BS article, which contained no evidence, sources or even information really, this latest round of rumours were still enough to be picked up by all the obvious names, NME, Q, Pitchfork, The Times etc. before the same sites posted follow ups dismissing the rumours.
It led to The Smiths trending on Twitter and the usual reactions to these now all too
familiar rumours. Many were horrified, many were hopeful, most were sarcastic.
It is however indicative of our interest in reformations and reunions that woolly at best speculation can still make an impact online. It’s become simply a quick and easy way to stir the pot and gain a fair few hits, both by the original website and the subsequent big boys. And yet we still bite.
I love The Smiths and I love the fact they are one of an ever-decreasing number of bands that refuse to reform. I hope they don’t. Plus, Morrissey walked off stage ten minutes into the gig the only time I’ve been to see him, so I can never take a tour announcement from him completely seriously.
I think there is a definite element of wanting what you can’t have in reunions, which is
what makes The Smiths perhaps the last big name. We know they won't and that makes us want it more. But how many bands are better the second time round? Actually manage to release new material? Most of the people who want this reunion probably wouldn’t even
get to experience it, as was the case with The Stone Roses reunion this summer.
I have seen a few reformed bands though, and so I know first-hand that it’s a mixed bag.
It depends on what sort of band they were, when they split, why they split, the reason for reuniting and a whole load of other factors.
I saw Smashing Pumpkins (well, Billy and Jimmy before even Jimmy left) at Reading
in ’07, when they were good, and on an arena tour the following year, when they ruined everything. Billy reformed because the Smashing Pumpkins name drew a bigger crowd
than he could, but it soon became just another solo ego trip.
I saw The Libertines, also at Reading, in ‘10, who, while only doing two performances in total, were excellent. They made it through the set without fighting each other and the songs sounded great live for those of us who had missed out first time around. I’d say it
was a success but it didn’t do a lot for their legacy or lead to anything else so was it worth all the fuss?
I also saw Rage Against The Machine, again at Reading, in ’08 and it was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. They returned with renewed energy and had lost none of their relevance or potency. They found new targets and reached a new generation. A success but again it hasn’t really gone anywhere since.
Could the same be said of The Smiths? Would they have an impact beyond their own bank balances? Obviously, there are arguments for and against.
"I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian," Morrissey, 2006.
The backdrop of an unpopular conservative government and a country in recession makes it sound almost appropriate, but aren’t protest songs for angry young men? Plus isn’t there something ironic about a band reforming and earning millions of pounds while playing anti-establishment songs? I've seen Dylan live and frankly, though I still love him, wish I hadn't. I'm sure plenty of Sex Pistols fans feel the same after their several reunions.
Morrissey told Uncut in 2006, "I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian." Do we want a Morrissey that goes back on that? While I don’t agree with a lot of what he says, that's who he is and I don't want to change that.
While I don't blame anyone for taking the money, wouldn’t it really tarnish The Smiths' legacy and go against what they stood for? We want the one we can’t have, but be
careful what you wish for.
I’m happy with their back catalogue the way it is. I think they are right not to reform and many agree, including the four most important people. So, as Q Magazine appropriately tweeted, ‘Thanks for playing ‘The Smiths aren’t reuniting game’ we’ll see you next time’.