Second male fan: "So what did you do on the QE2? Did you play shuffleboard?"
Smith: "Yes, we did play shuffleboard. And hockey. And deck quoits."
Second male fan: "Was the food good?"
Smith: "It was very posh, yeah."
Second female fan: "Where are you guys, then, like, spiritually?"
Smith: "Oooh, it's a very early in the day for this one . . ."
And so on, with Smith and the band -- most of whom sit silently through the whole ordeal -- struggling to form polite responses to even the most banal inquiries. Fortunately, Smith is sharp enough to keep the chatter entertaining.
One heated moment
For instance, one of the crowd notes that "Wish" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album charts, just one notch below Def Leppard's "Adrenalize." Asks the fan, "What'd you think of that?"
"I was ticked off that it wasn't No. 1," Smith answers, to raucous laughter. "And that's my method of saying I despise Def Leppard and everything they've ever done. I can't believe how popular Def Leppard are. It sickens me to see them all sitting there in Union Jacks, and yet [Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott] adopts that horrible, fake, rock-American accent." His bandmates nod in agreement.
Nor is their scorn reserved for hard rock acts, and that leads to what is perhaps the only heated moment of the press conference. When another fan asks if "any one of you like the works of Morrissey," his question is met by a sharp intake of breath from the podium.
"That sharp intake of breath was a 'No,' " says Smith.
"Do you like him, then?" interjects Simon Gallup, seemingly appalled that anyone could admire the self-obsessed music of the former Smiths singer. "Don't you think he is a self-pitying twit?" The room erupts into laughter, and Gallup warms to the subject. "I mean, anyone can write sixth-form poetry and feel sorry for himself. But if it's crap, really overrated crap . . ."
Embarrassed, the kid swiftly shifts to a question about the less-controversial L.A. riots.
It may be fun to watch such silliness, but in the end, we're left with the impression that the band could do without these encounters. So it's no wonder that one questioner asks if the band really wouldn't rather be doing something other than this tour.
"That's not a fair question," replies Smith. "Because whatever you're doing, even if you're enjoying it, there are always things that you'd rather do.
It's not really work
"I think we're all here because we enjoy this. There are certain elements of it that have become work, but still very few. We're doing this today so we'll not be bothered by it -- but having said that, there'll always be things left to do. But, no, it isn't work at all. It's really good fun."
He pauses a moment. "I mean, it's hard, part of it," he adds. "Each one of us, individually, find different aspects of it hard. Like the constantly moving on to somewhere else and never really feeling that settled; we never spend more than two days in one place, and I hate that, it has a really bad effect on me."
"The concerts are quite wonderful," says Perry Bamonte.
"But when you go out to tour, you've got to balance the enjoyment you're getting onstage alongside the things that you don't enjoy," says Smith. "As I said earlier, there are certain parts of the tour that I really, really hate, and which have a very bad effect on me. But as long as I personally think that these two are balanced in favor of going onstage, then we'll keep playing concerts.
"There probably will come a point when the balance shifts the other way, and it won't be worth it," he adds. "But at the moment, for about three hours onstage, you forget everything else. And that's why [doing these shows] is such a brilliant feeling."