OC Fans Trek To Smiths/Morrissey Convention At The Music Box

OC Fans Trek To Smiths/Morrissey Convention At The Music Box
                                                                                                                  Danielle Bacher

OC Fans Trek To Smiths/Morrissey Convention At The Music Box
                                                                                         Danielle Bacher

Inside, MC Blade takes the stage to kick off the first contest of the evening. This one is for hardcore fans only: he gives the B-side track, the contestant must name the A-side. Swag-craving attendees vault to the stage to prove their mettle. Long Beach native Yvette Covarrubias answers correctly, earning herself a prize and appreciative hollers from the crowd. Blade continues the quizzing with Name That Tune. More fans answer the call and battle one-on-one for box sets of Morrissey 7-inch singles. A buzz goes up in the room when an uncanny Moz doppelganger makes his way through to the backstage area.

The evening culminates with the set by Dublin's These Charming Men. The four-piece skillfully interprets the catalog of their musical inspirations, spinning out classic Smiths tunes punctuated with newer solo Morrissey material. Frontman Lee Brady mimics Moz's wild gyrations and affected croon, while guitarist Gavin Murphy channels vintage Johnny Marr. The group includes highlights such as "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side," "Suedehead" "Irish Blood, English Heart" and "How Soon is Now?" At one point, Brady hands a large Smiths poster out to the crowd, letting them jostle and fight for it.

During SoCal favorite "The First of the Gang to Die," several intrepid females invade the stage to dance and mob the band. Amused young men hoist the girls up, one of them being Covarrubias. After jiving their way through the track, concert staff direct them back to the adoring audience. In the end, These Charming Men are not the Smiths circa-1985, but they are the next best thing. In fact, Morrissey himself opined, "I'm very impressed and flattered by what they do." They are certainly appreciated tonight, and the convention goers sing along to all 21 songs in their set.  Richard Blade takes the mic, but the fans demand an encore. The group obliges with "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," a perfect cap to the evening. Finally, people start to drift out already planning for next year's convention, though many hope aloud that they might one day see the Smiths reunite in their full glory. 

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