In the wake of the Punk era of the late seventies came a ‘New Wave’ of music from the UK. It marked a second British Invasion to the shores of the US. The majority of the bands coming out of that movement had a synthesized highly grooved sound, to supply the clubs and discotheques with modern dance music for the new decade. A handful of bands like Eco and the Bunnymen, and James chose to anchor their sound on the back of the electric guitar, and the one band, out of the gates, that rose to the top of these guitar driven pioneer post punk acts was The Smiths.
When the Smiths finely descended on the States with their first American tour in the summer of 1985, the cult of Morrissey was at full strength. Although it was the guitar that essentially opened the door to America for the band, Morrissey’s godlike status with the music buying youth overshadowed. His accessible lyrics and message of loneliness and frustration resinated with a large segment of youth in America who like their counter parts back in the UK, were disillusioned with the materialistic direction of this country. Waves of fans would invade the stage at every show just to worship the singer, dance with the band and join in on the chores of every song. It was comparable to, and very much like, the Beatlemania that had taken the country 20 years earlier.
Their very first date on that tour was in Chicago at (as we called it) The Aragon Brawlroom. I was in the audience that night. No seating, just a giant open space with thousands of kids pushing to the stage, some with flowers in hand; plenty of pushing shoving and the occasional “crack on the head”.