The Smiths Indeed @ The Globe, Cardiff | Words and photos by Celine Lux
I have two confessions to make: I only discovered The Smiths in the mid 90s, after they split up, thanks to a friend who, having been a fan whilst the band was still producing songs that have now become anthems, took pity on me and decided he would bridge what he felt was a huge gap in my musical education. He subsequently gave me the almost entire Smiths/Morrissey catalogue on tapes – remember those? – and I haven’t looked back since.
The second confession is that I have never had the desire to see a tribute band, of any kind, live, ever. It’s not that I despise tribute bands; I just thought it was sad that some musicians strive to imitate or emulate some past glory that isn’t theirs in the first place.
All that changed when my new neighbours mentioned their musical tastes around a welcome-to-the-building-
By some weird type of synchronicity, the promoter for that gig had got in touch with Cat On The Wall regarding some exposure for The Smiths Indeed. I jumped at the opportunity and I am so glad I did.
Not surprisingly, the Globe was packed full of Moz lookalikes and the crowd ranged from fans of the first hour and youngsters. All knew the words to the songs, happily joining in with The Smiths Indeed’s renditions of classics such as ‘What Difference Does It Make’, ‘This Charming Man’, ‘Sweet and Tender Hooligan’ or ‘Panic’.
Jürgen Wendelen himself is a dead ringer for the Smiths’ front man, pushing the tribute to don flowery shirts, recreating moves and using similar props – think carnations and a noose – to complete the show. His vocal abilities are so well honed that if you’d close your eyes for a minute, you’d think it was the original singer himself performing live. Indeed the crowd seemed entranced with the act that they hurry to the front of the stage in a bid to touch Wendelen, some even managing to pull him off stage.
The band was incredibly tight, faithful to the original songs yet bringing their own stamp on them, which to me is always a sign of true sincerity. They were visibly enjoying interpreting the tunes and performing in front of an eager audience – much pogoing and stomping could be witnessed on the night, all in a good spirit of course, hooliganism is best left within lyrics rather than actions. The gig ended with some members of the audience trying unsuccessfully to invade the stage. A good night for all.
So there we have it: I saw a tribute band and I liked it. It is an experience I’ll be sure to reproduce, if anything because some musicians and fellow fans have made the effort to learn and work on performing songs I loved and continue to enjoy. What difference does it make that I may or may not have seen the original act the first time round? It makes none.