Anyway, on Friday I saw Moz open his current tour at Glasgow Barrowlands. Obviously, the place was packed, and support act Marion were really only a tedious distraction. At around 8.40, the lights went down, and a few minutes later, after the usual kind of opera Moz likes to play, there he was, in person. No dramatic entrance after the band had struck up the opening chords, or anything like that, just "Hello, Glasgow", and he was off into Billy Budd.
The band are looking very good indeed, all in dress jackets with shirts. Spencer Cobrain is drumming again, but it is still Johnny Greenwood on bass, and he looked very nervous to begin with, perhaps unsurprisingly, but played flawlessly. I don't remember the exact order of the set, but he plays Billy Budd, all of The Boxers EP, Moon River (thankfully only a little bit of it), Now My Heart Is Full, Spring Heeled Jim, Hold On to Your Friends, The More You Ignore Me, Why Don't You Find Out, Used To Be A Sweet Boy, Speedway, You're The One For Me, Fatty, We'll Let You Know, National Front Disco and Jack The Ripper. I may have forgotten some, but I think I have most of the set.
However, most surprisingly, not only did he play an encore, but it was Shoplifters Of The World Unite. When it started I didn't actually recognise it, since it isn't really what you expect to hear at a Moz concert. The rest of the crowd couldn't believe it either, and the number of people who managed to get onstage during the song meant that he couldn't actually sing the whole thing. The band played it well although they looked a bit unsure how to end it.
Actually, the amount of fans who managed to get onstage throughout the entire gig was very surprising since the Barrowland security is usually extremely tough, and I think Moz maybe told them to go easy on the fans. It did get a bit farcical when the same peple were going onstage for the 3rd and 4th time, but he was generally quite nice to most of the people, teasing one girl who tried to shake his hand by pulling his away and repeating it again until he had no option other than to shake her hand lest he fall off the stage! Someone else gave him a present which was beautifully wrapped and he held onto it for a couple of songs before sitting it down.
At Motherwell the next night, according to my flatmate Greig, he played the same set, and it was even busier, and in his opinion, better, although he would say that, since he got onstage and shook Moz's hand!
I forgot to mention, but he made an arse of Why Don't You Find Out, missing his cue, and having to stop the band, apologise to them and start again. Also, some of his singing, in places, was a bit dodgy, but what can be expected from someone who gave his last concert yonks ago. Simon
Well, the Barrowlands concert has been and gone and yes, he did turn up !! I didn't jot down the setlist (I'll leave that to the guy who was there from Dundee). He opened with Billy Budd, Have A Go Merchant then Spring Heeled Jim. There was nothing from Viva Hate, Kill Uncle or Bona Drag. Vauxhall was played in full apart from The Lazy Sunbathers and Lifeguard Sleeping...., he even sang Moonriver, he apologised at the end of it though saying, "Sorry it's a slow song but I'm getting old now." He also played the three tracks from the Boxers single. The set lasted an hour and five minutes. He came back for one encore which was Shoplifters. The crowd went wild and I was amazed that he played a Smiths song. Hopefully he'll play a different one every night, I'll find out tonight in Edinburgh. Highlights for me were The More You Ignore Me (not normally one of my favourites), Now My Heart Is Full, Speedway and Shoplifters.
Mozz wasn't as "mobile" as on the Your Arsenal tour, neither were Boz or Alain. I didn't recognise the bass player though I thought that he looked like Andy Rourke at first (it wasn't). The drummer may have been Spencer though I'm not sure.
One thing that pissed me off was the amount of people that got up on stage to shake his hand, hug him etc. One or two a night I don't mind but the average on Friday must have been around six times EVERY song. It became a right pain in the arse. Morrissey didn't seem to mind though !!
After much anticipation and speculation, Morrissey took the stage in Glasgow on the first night of his first British Tour in two years. The crowd went wild!
He was dressed in a black casual blazer type jacket, open collared white shirt, jeans and the trusted Doc Marten Boots.
He launched into Billy Bud with the crunching guitars of Alain Whyte and Boz Boorer providing the perfect compliment to his still fresh voice.
The band were very tight, playing remarkably well, however the pace of the set was noticiably slower than the rage of our excitement.
Many people broke the stiff security at the front and climbed onstage, hugging, kissing and shaking hands with Moz who took it all in his stride (he actually helped a few people up).
The night was brought to a fantastic crescendo with the rebirth of Shoplifters Of the World Unite which unsurprisingly saw the crowd go completely mental, and then he was gone.
---------------- SET ---------------- Billy Bud Have a Go Merchant Spring Heeled Jim You're The One For Me, Fatty The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get Whatever Happens, I Love You We'll Let You Know Jack The Ripper Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself National Front Disco Moon River (cover) Hold On To Your Friends Boxers Used To Be a Sweet Boy Now My Heart is Full Speedway ------------------------- Encore ------------------------- Shoplifters of The World UniteI took my girlfriend along, and she now 'understands'.
Last nights gig at the Usher Hall had the same set as the Barrowlands concert minus Used To Be A Sweet Boy. Again they played Shoplifters as the only encore.
All did not seem to be well with Morrissey and the rest of the band. He disappeared during Hold Onto Your Friends and left the band to jam for a couple of minutes. When he reappeared he said, "This next song is Boxers, we'll try and get this one right". I didn't notice anything wrong with the bands playing. Alain didn't look too pleased and he never looked at Morrissey all night. There was no "rapport" between Mozz and the band.
Set List (Not in order) Billy Budd Have A Go Merchant Spring Heeled Jim You're The One For Me Fatty The More You Ignore Me... We'll Let You Know National Front Disco Used To Be A Sweet Boy (Glasgow only) Boxers Whatever Happens I Love You Moonriver Hold Onto Your Friends Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself Jack The Ripper Now My Heart Is Full Speedway Shoplifters Of The World Unite
Re The Guardian review: Compared to the Kill Uncle and Your Arsenal tours, there is more than a little truth in it (in my opinion). He was still good though !!
the night was full of tension for me. this was the first english show since the astoria gig, and i was fairly nervous.
even before the show started, i was handed a leaflet from sheffield anti-fascist alliance, denouncing moz as a racist. this warranted 2 seconds of my attetion before it was ripped up and dropped in front of this wankers face. but anyhow, enough of simple minded fools who, read and BELEIVE the nme!, and on with the gig!
down went the lights, on came 'jerusalem', out came the morrissey chants, and on came........ DOCKYARD DORIS, and drag queen from london!
she gave the audience some banter about how she had known moz for some time and how he was still drinking stones bitter( which drew a lot of boos from the crowd, heavily influenced by anti yorkshire sentiment no doubt!)
now the most perplexing moment of the evening -doris asking us to ' give us an M, give us an O, give us a double R' and so forth until we had spelt out morrissey's name.
then morrissey came on, respledent in his jacket and shirt, with the band in similar attire, apart from alain in his white tux, and frilly shirt(much like the one on the front on the malady...)
the set list was the same as the others, so i won't list it here but moz had some banter with us...
1) at the end of 'whatever happens i love you' he whispered to the audience 'i love you'
2) moz told the crowd 'thankyou for turning up tonight. it really does mean a lot to me'
3) for shoplifters, moz came back on with a sheffield wednesday football top from the 60s, which i managed to a get a piece of!
both the sheffield show and the blackpool one were filmed, and will be edited to look as one show, hopefully being released soon- so my fight to get on stage to hug morrissey will be captured on film forever!!!
security was really mellow, and actually helped people get on stage. as i went to climb up, the bouncer told me to wait until the stage was clear then let me go on! this must be a conscious effort by moz and his security team, hence the reason why 5-6 people get on stage for each song!
Morrissey - Empress Ballroom, Blackpool, England 8/2/95
Well, I have just returned home from this gig, Morrissey left the stage about an hour and a half ago. The set kicked off with Billy Budd set against the backdrop of the "World of.." cover. Moz had on a white shirt, with a three button grey jacket and a lapel badge which I couldn't make out - I presumed it was "Famous When Dead". Moz was on just over an hour, which I thought was a little disappointing considering the back catalogue at his disposal, but the real pisser for me is all those WANKERS who insist on getting on stage. From the first song there was a constant stream. Can somebody tell me what the point is in this? Most of them only succeed in pushing Morrissey off the mike, so the rest of us miss out on two or three lines of a song. I paid good money to hear him sing, not get pushed about the stage. Don't bother E-Mailing me to tell me what a life affirming experience it is to get on stage and give him a hug or a crap present because it doesn't wash. I have been to many Smiths and Morrissey gigs, and over the years, this practice has turned many of them into a farce. I don't believe he enjoys it.
Anyway, enough about those tossers. highlight of the show were:
Set list: Billy Budd Have A Go Merchant Spring Heeled Jim You're The One For Me Fatty More You Ignore Me..... Whatever Happens, I Love You We'll Let You Know Jack The Ripper Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself ? National Front Disco Moon River Hold On To Your Friends Boxers Used To Be A Sweet Boy Now My Heart Is Full Speedway encore: Shoplifters Of The World UniteBarrie, Liverpool, England.
The venue was a small sports hall - capacity probably somewhere around the 2,ooo mark. Well, this was my second concert of the boxers tour ( I saw him in Blackpool on Wednesday), unfortunately /\\orrissey was not on top form !. Er well, he was kind of having difficulties with his microphone all the way through the set and you could tell that this irked him somewhat. The set list was the same as previous gigs (minus used to be a sweet boy). My moment of fame came as i hurled my Liverpool Football club scarf at his feet during "Well let you know" ! ; during the song he stared at my scarf and looked moved !. At he end of song he picked up the scarf (to huge boos from the audience ! - mostly Birmingham football fans!) and looked at it as if he was disgusted by it ! ! - he then threw it back into the crowd ! ( sparking off a massive fight for it !) . My hopes of him being a Liverpool fan dashed !. I may throw him another scarf on thursday night at the Bradford Gig and see what his reaction is then ! - he might keep my scarf next time !. For the encore he came on in an Aston Villa football top - which was hurled into the crowd along with a football. Erm yea as i said at the start this was'nt one of his better gigs, erm he didn't really look to be into it. What i did notice was that he had an awful cut above his right eye which maybe he got at Blackpool on Wednesday. He has had to put up with alot of fans coming onto the stage and molesting him over the previous dates maybe this has taken it out of him a bit ! . Erm this gig sold MERCHANDISE ! - superb white tee-shirts with /\\orrissey on the wall at the Griffith Observatory LA (photo from the Q interview of last year)- these where 12 pounds. they also had black tee-shirts with the Boxers cover on them - thes weren't very attractive though !. Erm, well thats about it really. Er review of Bradford to come on Friday ! richard
out of the three concerts i've now seen on the boxers tour, this was the most weakest, i have to say.
the centre is exactlty that, a hall the size of 3 five-a-side football pitches, with makeshift stands at the back and on two sides, with a big lot of standing in the middle! as you can imagine, it lacked atmosphere, which was simply ouzing at sheffield and blackpool.
the night though started with an event itself. 2 friends who live in our hall came down, but had no tickets. to our horror, neither did any of the ticket touts outside the venue. we eventually got tickets, one from another moz fan for 12.50 pounds and one from a tout( at last) for a ridiculous sum of 25 pounds. the touts weren't too happy at us getting one of the tickets before them, and one of them threatened me "don't stitch me up son!"- time too leave i thought!
the set was the same as before, except 'used to be a sweet boy' was left out. moz did't feel too comfortable with the gig, and seemed to suggest to the band to leave that one out!
for the first time on the english tour, official t-shirts were available, one with moz overhanging the balcony in the states from last years q magazine with tour dates on the back, and 2 with the boxers cover in either long or short sleeved. the prices were a bargain 12 and 16 pounds respectively, not bad compared to suede's prices!
for novelty value, the infamous bouncer from the 'hulmerist' video "t- shirt mate, ok mate!!!" was also there, as were a few people from that gig. again there were tv cameras, but this time filming people in the crowd, perhaps to be used at the end of the forthcoming live gig release, who knows?
my last concert is bradford on thursday, so i'll fill bigmouthers in on friday.
MORRISSEY - ST GEORGE'S HALL, BRADFORD
THURSDAY, 16 FEBRUARY 1995
Guitars: BOZ BOORER
Guitars: ALAIN WHYTE
Bass: JONNY BRIDGEWOOD
Drums: SPENCER COBRIN
I can remember feeling both excited (VERY!) and nervous when I heard that dear old MORRISSEY would be touring once again in February, over two years after his last batch of dates for "Your Arsenal". I was looking forward to seeing El Mozzer ever so much, as I knew it would be more than worthwhile. But at the same time, I was worried that perhaps it was all too good to be true, and that something would come along to spoil everybody's plans (after all, plans can fall through and so often they do!). Luckily, nothing of the kind happened (thank heavens!) and I am able to tell the tale of my own account of one of the many shows that subsequently took place.
I immediately made arrangements with my very good friend Neil (McNab) when the dates were actually announced as to where we would go to see Mozzer. I was desperately hoping that the bequiffed one would play his hometown of Manchester (where I am at the minute residing). Unfortunately, this wasn't the case (I was initially gutted by this), and so we instead decided to go to the Bradford show (as well as to the Brixton fixture. I even managed to get to the Drury Lane Theatre gig, although this was sorted at the last minute as a surprise!). There were a couple of months to go before the big day came, but the time seemed to pass me by very quickly indeed. I was, in the meantime, having a lot of trouble with money, men and college, so it helped a lot to know that there was some kind of light at the end of the tunnel (if only temporarily!). Neil would also be staying with me for most of the weekend following the show, and this was an added source of joy.
When the day finally arrived, I took the time off from college as I wanted to get to Bradford in plenty of time to meet up with Neil. My lecturer was not at all impressed by the fact that I would be missing both his lecture and seminar in order to see Morrissey, but I wasn't too bothered or worried about this! Anyway, I attired myself in an excellent "Meat is Murder" t-shirt, black jeans, battered Doc Martens and grey military-style coat, topped off with my treasured Manchester United FC woolly hat!! I also took along my NME flap-sac bag, which I fervently hope Morrissey didn't catch sight of!! I stayed in until about after 2.00 pm (isn't daytime TV atrocious?!), when I left for a bus that would take me to Manchester City Centre. I got the train to Bradford Interchange from Victoria Station virtually as soon as I got there, and spent the journey reading my book on the history of punk (very interesting stuff, for sure!). I got to the Interchange about an hour before I was due to meet Neil, and so I went off in search of a Bakery of some sort. After I'd bought some food (I believe it was a very unhealthy jammy doughnut!), I went to a John Menzies shop to have a look at the magazines.
I was just about to walk into this store when I spotted some familiar figures hanging around outside the front, eagerly glancing through the pages of a monthly publication (I can't remember which!). On closer inspection, they turned out to be none other than (most of) MARION!! Some other Mozzer fans had already cornered them, and got photos taken with the band and the like. In a flash of inspiration, I whipped out my punk diary book and shyly asked one of the lads to sign it. They all kindly autographed the inside cover (apart from one of the group, who had gone to get something to eat!!). Jaime (pronounced Jamie) Harding, the incredibly handsome and very gorgeous vocalist, said as he and the others prepared to go that he loved my hat, and gave me the thumbs-up and a great big grin! He was such a darling!! I said goodbye to them all, and then they headed off to wherever.
I was in a highly elated state after such an eventful ten minutes, and happily went off to find somewhere to wait for Neil. His train was, very thankfully, pretty much on time, and after I'd found him we walked to the venue. I told him all about bumping into Marion while we made our way there, and he was much amused by the story. We had to dash to St George's very quickly as the elements had taken a turn for the worse by this point. The sky, as overcast as anything, was dark and dismal, morbid and miserable as the rain pelted down mercilessly. But it didn't take too long to get there, and we picked up our tickets from the Box Office when we'd finally tumbled in. We didn't really want to go back outside and face the weather, as there was still a good while to wait before the doors were opened. So we thought it would be a good idea to stay in the venue bar and kill some time in the warmth. We did this, and found that there were loads of other Morrissey fanatics sheltering also.
Not long after finding a table and sharing some news about numerous things, we were joined by Bruce Duff (Editor of the premier U.K. Morrissey fanzine "A Chance To Shine") and his charming girlfriend Diane. Neil avidly chatted away to them both, while I contributed occasionally. I spent most of my time keenly watching various people come and go (I tend to do this a lot, wherever I happen to be!) I noticed Russ Seekatz (Co-Editor of the number one U.S. fanzine (and Morrissey's favourite, apparently) "Sing Your Life"). He invited me over to the other side of the bar, where a contingent of American Morrissey devotees were gathered. I enjoyed saying hello to them all and talked briefly about whatever. Russ very generously gave me a copy of the latest issue of SYL, and I had a good read of it when I went back to Neil and the others.
Well, I thought I'd already got all the autographs I was going to procure for one day, but a bit later on I saw BOZ BOORER wander into the bar. I marched up to him and asked, very nicely, if he'd sign my recently-acquired fanzine. He did so quite willingly, but not before searching through the pages for a photo of himself in drag and having a good laugh! Five minutes later, SPENCER COBRIN also strolled in, and I managed to corner him as well. He asked for my name before signing the same fanzine, and he was so painfully sweet it was untrue. Diane likewise got their signatures, and was as pleased as punch. We stayed in the bar until about fifteen to twenty minutes after the doors had opened, then made our separate ways to the hall itself. Neil and I had front row seats in the lowest of the balconies. Although I would have preferred to be downstairs in the standing area, I still had a nearly perfect view of the evening's proceedings.
We'd missed some of Marions's set by this time, but caught the remainder of it. I rate the band very highly, and they went down a storm. Their stage presence was so powerful, and I can see why Morrissey likes them so much!! The last number they did was their then single "Sleep", and I loved every minute of it. They left the stage with the sound of enthusiastic cheers ringing around the hall, and I was glad I hadn't missed the whole stint.
During the next forty-five minutes or so, the warm-up music was played which I enjoyed a great deal. Among the material heard was stuff by Petula Clark, The Ramones (I think!), The Fall and Nico. I swayed around in my seat in time to the music, and watched as the hall gradually filled up. It didn't seem like very long before the house lights went down, and the huge backdrop adorned by the boxer Cornelius Carr was dramatically lowered. A rowdy "Jerusalem" began, and the crowd went mad as the anticipation rose to a great height. Morrissey and the gang presently ran onto the stage to a particularly noisy reception, and the show was launched with "Billy Budd". Morrissey looked pretty smart, and was dressed in a beige-ish (?) blazer, a pale shirt, blue jeans and black boots. Boz Boorer and the lads were bang on form, and I dont't think I'd ever seen or heard them play as well as they did. Most of the tracks from the splendid "Vauxhall and I" were given a very welcome airing, as well as the songs from the recent "Boxers" EP. I especially loved the boisterous "Have-a-Go Merchant", and it worked incredibly well in its live capacity.
As well as the new (and newish) material, some old favourites were played such as "Jack the Ripper", "You're the One for Me, Fatty" and "We'll Let You Know", as well as "The National Front Disco". I previously had SERIOUS problems with the latter song, as I believed it to be insensitive to a certin section of Morrissey's followers (i.e., those from ethnic minorities including myself). But because Morrissey has since endeavoured to explain the angle he was taking when penning this number, I decided to relent in my past disapproval. (This isn't to say that I didn't understand and realise Morrissey's viewpoint, but the hype and confusion surrounding the whole thing became almost unbearable at times. And Mozzer's apparent nonchalance didn't help matters very much either). Anyway, I DO have to admit that he did a bloody good job of "National" on the night!! It ended with a massive amount of feedback which was very effective, before cleverly leading into the classic "Moonriver" which moved me greatly (almost to tears). It's become a firm favourite, because it's so uncomfortably poignant at this very difficult time in my life, which I'm not too happy with. Morrissey's rendition was beautiful, and I'll always remember it.
I don't really recall Morrissey actually saying a great deal throughout the show, although he did mention picking something up in Hull (he played there the night before, and apparently didn't think much to the gig!). He also said something like "I suppose you've all come down from Manchester", which struck me as quite odd. Wonder what he meant by this? Anyway, there wasn't a hugely successful amount of stage trespassers for this date, as the security was very on-the-ball. Indeed, one of the guys hauling out impudent have-a-go stage climbers from the front of the crowd was a giant specimen, and I'd actually talked to him earlier on in the bar (a very nice man he was too, as it happens!).
But what really impressed me most was how very gentle the security appeared to be with anyone who DID manage to get onstage. These jubilant invaders were actually allowed to touch Morrissey before being quickly led away...
The show's duration seemed to fly by very rapidly, and ended with the emphatic "Speedway". This was performed with so much energy and passion, and Morrissey looked almost defiant as he snarled each and every word. The gang left the stage immediately after this stirring number, but there was the matter of an encore to be attended to. The crowd stamped and cheered while waiting for their idol to come back and entertain his blindly adoring masses. The legandary chant of "MORRISSEY, MORRISSEY, MORRISSEY" started up and faded out again, when suddenly the man that is The Moz was back again. He did just the one encore, but for me it was as good as the rest of the show! It was, of course, "Shoplifters of the World Unite". I danced away happily, completely ecstatic that the lads/days of old were being honoured in such a big way.
I watched, amused, as the crowd below went absolutely mental to this track, and I lost count of how many people attempted to defy the powers of gravity and reach Morrissey (Love and Bruises were in abundance on this most hectic of nights!!). I was just totally blown away by the entirely awesome sight of actually seeing Morissey sing a Smiths song in the flesh (it was the first time I'd witnessed such a miracle, as I was too young to see The Smiths when they were in existence - I didn't even like them at the time, though the total reverse is obviously now true!). Boz and his men did the song a great justice, and I was very satisfied by this. As the number came to an end, Morrissey bade his loyal and faithful followers farewell, before he and his troupe once more exited the stage amid supportive and congratulatory applause.
I left the hall after waiting around for a little while with Neil, as the lights came on and the backdrop started to rise almost majestically. We went outside, and walked over to the spot where the tour vechicles were all parked together. Neil espied David Bret, author of the official Morrissey Biography "Landscapes of the Mind". He's actually quite small, much more so than I would have thought! I was hoping that Neil and I would perhaps go for a wander, and find Morrissey in his dressing room or something (yeah, right!!), but we stayed outside with quite a few other hopefuls. Shortly after we'd left the hall, the band members clamberred onto the tour coach. They waved at everyone through the windows, and I just smiled at them in my own cute way. About five or ten minutes later, Morrissey was hurriedly smuggled on, but was hidden from public scrutiny (pity!) as he was covered by someone's coat. The coach set off very swiftly, followed by some of the fans, My beloved one had gone, but I was pleased and privileged to have ssen him at all.
So then, what did we do after that? Well, we passed a lot of people selling bootleg posters and t-shirts and the like, as well as the many fanzine editors displaying their delectably tasty wares. I'd quite like to have bought a programme, but for the entire tour there were none available, and I couldn't afford the other stuff as it was just too expensive for my meagre budget to stretch to (Ah'm only a poor student, don't ya know!!). Neil and I tiredly made our way back to the Interchange, where we caught the train home...
I had a thoroughly wonderful night out, and thought that the show was definitely nothing less than brilliant (as were the other dates I attended). I've been at loggerheads with the entirely erratic Steven Patrick so many times in the past, but well, at the end of the day, I LOVE THE MAN TOTALLY, and think the world of him. It was great being able to see him virtually face to face once again, and I can only hope I'll be able to repeat the experience one of these days. Okay then, enough of my incessant rambling. Thanks for reading this here review of mine, and let's hope that Morrissey's much-needed influence will continue for years to come...
The full setlist for the concert is as follows:
Mozzer was his own undoing I'm afraid.
The gig until the encore was excellent. I thought he really enjoyed it and when he sang London the crowd went absolutely ape. During the show there was a trickle of fans climbing onto the stage but they were generally very meek. Walked up to the mozz, touched him and then dragged off by the security. IMHO they did not detract from the show and in fact contributed to the general atmosphere.
However, during Shoplifters, there was a particularly unseemly scuffle between a member of security and someone trying to get onto the stage. Morrissey stopped singing and asked the security bloke what he thought he was doing. This was greeted by applause from the crowd and there then began a constant flow of people unhindered onto the stage once Shoplifters was restarted (twice in one show, it seemed too good to be true). Sadly and predictably a scuffle broke out on stage as the security attempted to clear the stage. I'm not really sure what started it but it was probably the wankers abusing the chance Morrissey had given them and instead of fucking off, dancing all over the stage.
At this point the band just ran off and the lights came on. No big finish, no ovation, everyone just filed out. What a pisser. It ruined the whole evening. If anyone who was on the stage at the end is reading this then you are a twat but you're probably aware of this by now.
A very pissed off person
A great gig, marred at the end... The set list went like this (I might have a couple in the wrong order in the middle)
Billy Budd Have a go merchant Spring heeled Jim London - yes, really, and it was the best song of the night You're the one for me fatty The more you ignore me, the closer I get We'll let you know Why don't you find out for yourself National front disco Moonriver Whatever happens, I love you Boxers Now my heart is full Speedway [Encore] Shoplifters of the world unite (two thirds of it, anyway)There's been quite a bit of discussion about people getting on stage to hug Morrissey - nobody got on last night until Now My Heart is Full, and the bloke knelt, kissed Morrissey's hand and got a huge cheer. That's how it should be done. Then it got totally silly, with loads of people clambering up and by the time Shoplifters was two thirds of the way through (just at the end of the second verse) Morrissey had to go off because there were too many people on the stage. When the band realised there was nobody to sing about alabaster crashing down and six months being a long time, they just stopped and went off, followed by a small amount of booing. A sour end to a great gig. Richard
Editor, .net The Internet Magazine
At last it was time for the Morrissey concert. I had great expectations since I've read several reviews and heard a lot about his tour.
The show was going to be in Croydon, a small town not far from London. The Fairfield Hall was sold out and a lot of Morrissey fans had taken the opportunity to see their idol one extra time.
The concert started about half past seven with the supporting band Marion. I had never heard Marion before this show and it was a nice suprise to see that they were this good. They sound in my opinion a little like Gene/Oasis/Supergrass. You understand it's a band that's well worth checking out.
Altough, the crowd didn't seem to like the band very much. It was not until their newly released single "Sleep" was played the audience started to move around a bit.
The set lasted about fortyfive minutes and it was great. Nice, brilliant British indie-pop at it finest.
After a half hour it was time for the main event: Morrissey. The audience started to get restless just when the lights went off. The backdrop was lightened up. It consisted of the "World of Morrissey" cover with the boxer Cornelius Carr.
The crowd started screaming and was met by the Morrissey intro. After the intro we watched five dark silhouettes enter the stage. The light went on and there he was. The crowd went wild and the band started with "Billy Budd". Morrissey played the tamburine in the first vers. After the first vers he threw the tambourine to the crowd. The band consisted of the usual members: Boz Boorer - guitar, Alain Whyte - Guitar, Spencer Cobrin - drums. The bas was played by the new Johnny Bridgewood.
Morrissey wore blue jeans and a black jacket over a white shirt. After "Billy Budd" Morrissey thank the audience and the next track was on. It was the new track "Have-A-Go Merchant" from the Boxers EP. After this track Morrissey put of his jacket and unbottomed his short sleeved shirt a bit. The next track was "Spring-heeled Jim" the track was excellent live and I think it will become many peoples live favourite.
The suprise came when the band as the fourth song started to play some well knowned chords. It took me some seconds to realize what it was. It was the old Smiths tune "London". The crowd was out of it and it was time for the first people to jump the stage. The song was handeled good by the Morrissey band and I was very satisfied with the version.
The show went on with songs like "Boxers", "Why don't you find out for yourself" and a five minute version of "Moonriver".
The "National front disco" was performed with the three minutes long noisy ending.
Speedway was introduced as the last track after about an hour. The track started as on the album, but the band just went right over the "chainsaw/motorcycle-part". What was a bit funny was that Spencer missed to change his drum pace between the intro and the vers. Morrissey didn't seem to notice, but Alain and Boz looked back at the Spencer and laughed.
The set was over and the crowd wanted an encore. The band entered the stage again after a short brake and they went into the old Smiths classic "Shoplifters of the world unite". The crowd was at it's peak and lot of people went on stage. It soon got crowded around Morrissey who ran backstage. The band played on until it was time for Boz Boorer to play the Marr solo part. A person from the crowd pushed Boz, who got a bit angry and put down the guitar and went of stage. Spencer soon after that got very upset and kicked down his drums and went of stage. This was the end of the show. The lights went on and it was all over.
The concert was in opinion very good, but the crowd was a bit boring and Morrissey didn't seem to be in his best humour. The band was good and Boz play the clarinet in "Whatever happens, I love you" without problems. Johnny Bridgewood managed his basswork faultless.
It was a nice show and I think everyone got what the wanted of the evening.
The tracks played:
I'll start right in by admitting that my stubbornness and occasional narrow-mindedness has caused me to miss out on a lot. I was first introduced to the music of the Smiths back in 1984, but because I was a "punk," I refused to listen to it. So I passed up, without even thinking, many opportunities to see what I now consider to have been one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest band ever.
A great volume of lead-colored water has passed under the proverbial iron bridge since then, and though it seemed a bit ludicrous to make any great effort to attend a Morrissey concert in 1995, I was more than willing to endure the ridicule of friends who thought I was absolutely bonkers for carrying on like a hyaperactive adolescent over someone who, in their opinion, had seen his best years a decade or so ago.
Even if you don't subscribe to the widely held view that Morrissey solo is not a patch on the greatness achieved by the Smiths, it's hard to see how Morrissey on his own could ever surpass the legacy of that band. Nonetheless, what he has accomplished these past 8 years is none too shabby; in fact, I would rate it as ranging between very good and absolutely brilliant.
But face it: although the man would no doubt have been able to make a very successful career for himself even if Johnny Marr had never existed, it's not so likely that he would have accumulated the adoring legions of fans who greet his every move or arched eyebrow with a fervor generally reserved for returning messiahs.
Well, it's easy enough for me to laugh at the slavering masses; after all, I was one of them. I had resisted getting overly excited until very nearly the last minute, not least because of Morrissey's record of frequent and sometimes last-minute cancellations. Even on the day of the gig, I lolled around the house, not thinking very much about the evening to come. I turned up at the venue late, par for the course with me anyway, then went off elsewhere to eat pizza and drink beer.
By the time I actually entered the Academy, the opening band, Marion, were nearly finished. Apparently they had begun playing right on schedule, quite a novel concept in the musical circles I normally inhabit.
They were all right, I guess, if a bit generic: a five-piece pop band with a singer whose croonings contained the vaguest echo of Morrissey-isms, that having sufficed, however, for Time Out to label his band "Smiths-ian." Not true.
After Marion had cleared out, I had an opportunity to prowl about the cavernous reaches of the Academy's ground floor checking out the audience, whom I had expected to be nearly as interesting as the show itself, but here I was a bit disappointed. A bit relieved, too, actually, since I'd had some hesitation about how well I'd fit into the sort of crowd I'd seen portrayed in Morrissey videos, a languid throng of pale, androgynous, lily-clutching youths of the sort that would have Oscar Wilde dashing back from the next world for an encore.
But while there were a few of that ilk (and I was fortunate enough to have one of them pressed up closely against me throughout Morrissey's hour-long set), the bulk of the crowd were remarkably mundane: white (apart from the staff, I counted one black face there, and he was no more than half African), middle class, and, I'm sure it's safe to say, overwhelmingly suburban. Nor did I feel out of place because of my age; though I was undoubtedly one of the older people there, there were a number of fans who made me look like a spring chicken, well, May or early June, anyway.
As a veteran of nearly 18 years of going to punk rock shows, I'm quite familiar with the compressed, throbbing mass of humanity that accumulates in front of the stage and is generally known as "the pit." Having braved the pit for the likes of the Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones, and, in more modern times, Operation Ivy, Neurosis, Bad Religion, et al., I wasn't anticipating that a Morrissey pit would be too challenging. And in one sense it wasn't: there were none of the flying fists and boots that make punk pits so exciting and potentially lethal.
But nevertheless, it was as challenging a pit as I've ever encountered, and left me as physically drained and exhausted as any of the thrashing hectic circle dances of yore. The operative factor here was pressure, constant, unremitting pressure from any and all directions at once. I imagine it's something like being deep under the sea and caught in the middle of half a dozen unpredictable cross currents.
Nothing really remarkable was going on except that about ten times as many people as was physically possible were trying to occupy the approximately 20 square meters directly in front of the stage. I frequently thanked the powers that be for my steel-toes, not that I ever had to apply them to anyone's shinbone, but simply because they probably saved me a fractured or at least painful toe or two. You see, I wasn't giving up any ground, but this didn't stop some lunks from trying to stand on exactly the same spot where I already stood, even if that meant literally on top of my shoes.
From the moment the room went dark, I and my companion - whose name I never knew and who slipped away wordlessly as the house lights came up - moved as a single organism toward the front, until we were within no more than five feet of Morrissey's frequently outstretched hand. It was quite odd the way that we had attached ourselves to each other, based on nothing more, probably, than an instinctual recognition that both of us were going straight to the front and that nothing would stand in our way. Nothing, that is, but the one large, undoubtedly beef-fed brutus who was the last remaining obstacle separating us from the stage, and whom we were never able to fully dislodge.
Once we had established our position, it was simply a matter of maintaining our balance, not a simple matter, actually, especially at times when one or more of my legs would be forcibly lifted from the ground for long intervals. But having four legs between us, we did all right, and, cornily enough, I was reminded of the Smiths lyric that goes, "And everything depends upon how near you stand to me." Neither of us would have lasted five minutes on our own in that crush.
Oh yes, you're saying, but enough crowd dynamics, what about the music???
Well, it was nothing short of stupendous and magnificent and shimmering with greatness. Even now, looking back upon it 24 hours later, it's hard to believe that it was real. Oddly enough, the closest I could come to a criticism would be that it was all so perfectly done that it almost didn't seem real; immersed, as I've been so for long, in the DIY world of makeshift PA systems and malfunctioning guitar amps and lighting consisting of a single bulb that gets shattered by an over-enthusiastic stage diver, perhaps I'm just too easily impressed by a professionally done show.
But I think it was more than that. Everything was so meticulously done, all the instruments tuned and re-tuned, all the spotlights individually checked, even the smoke machine given a trial run-through before the band took the stage. It was obvious that little if any margin was being left for error, and it might have been the sheer excellence of the presentation combined with the delirious excitement of seeing one of the greatest performers of our time suddenly appear before us that made it hard to believe that it was actually happening.
The music was so loud, and yet flawlessly played, without a hint of distortion. Morrissey came prancing and flouncing into view, looking far better than any of his recent photographs would have suggested, and swung effortlessly, almost second-naturedly into "Billy Budd," one of my favorite songs from Vauxhall And I, and a pleasant surprise, since I'd heard he hadn't been playing it at earlier shows on the tour.
I had intended, or at least thought about writing down the songs he performed so that I could list them in this review, but needless to say, from where I stood, that was out of the question, not that I could have been bothered anway. As a result, though, I can only give a really ragged recounting of precisely what songs he did do, and did I say "really ragged?" Yes, I did, the words being purposely borrowed from my favorite line in the song "London" ("You left your girlfriend on the platform, with this really ragged notion that you'll return"), I myself being the longstanding king of really ragged notions.
Anyway, the point is that about a third of the way into the set, he mumbled something about returning to Brixton, and then slammed into "London." After years of rarely if ever performing Smiths songs in his solo shows, Morrissey had introduced "Shoplifters Of The World" as his regular encore on this tour, and nearly everybody present was already looking forward to that. But this was an extra added treat, and the crowd, myself included, very nearly went berserk. And yes, it sounded so much like the Smiths that with your eyes closed, you would have been hard pressed to tell the difference.
What else? There was "Have A Go Merchant" from the new EP and at least one if not both of the other songs too, there was "Jack The Ripper" and an uproarious "You're The One For Me, Fatty." And of course, "National Front Disco," which I probably enjoyed least of all, partly due to the not necessarily ironic singalong of "England for the English" emanating from the lager louts directly behind me.
A surprisingly large portion of the show consisted of slow numbers; even Morrissey's unremarkable interpretation of "Moon River" had the audience rapt with both attention and sentiment, something I'd doubt even he could pull off with an American audience. Here, in a moment that evoked the grand English tradition of the music hall, half the crowd sang along with the treacly lyrics, making me aware once more of just how glad I was to be able to see this show in London rather than the USA.
He performed most of the songs from Vauxhall And I, of which "Find Out For Yourself" and "Speedway" were especially remarkable; he didn't do "Every Day Is Like Sunday" or "Suedehead," which would have disappointed me except that I had already heard that they had been left off this tour's set list. After a brief, decorous pause, he did the encore that everyone was anticipating, "Shoplifters Of The World," and just like that was gone.
The lights came on, bright and cruel, the crowd began to dissolve, except for about 20 roughnecks right behind me who started a full-on rugby scrum over the tattered remnants of Morrissey's shirt that had been tossed into the audience a couple songs earlier. I thought about how funny it might be if I had come prepared with an extra shirt or two to toss into the dogpile before wandering off into the not too chilly and occasionally rainy night.
I remember thinking, too, that this was the first show I'd attended in years where not once had I thought about the passage of time or wondered about how many more songs there would be before it was over, where I was completely enthralled from start to finish. When it came time for the show to end, I could sense it, yet I, and I'm sure nearly everyone else in the audience, would have gladly stood still for another hour's worth of music.
But that would have left us exhausted rather than exhilarated; as it was,
it's hard to imagine a show more perfect. And unlike most shows I've seen
recently, this one grew rather than dwindled in my mind as the next days
passed. I know I'll sound like a babbling teenager, and I don't mind a
bit: it was one of the most amazing and memorable experiences of my life.
I tried to stop myself thinking it, but only partially succeeded: that all
the bloody and reprehensible history of the British Empire could very
nearly be forgiven if it could culminate in the creation of music and art
such as this.
My expectations weren't so high for this show; I felt fairly sure it couldn't live up to Friday night's, if only because almost nothing could. On top of that, I think the novelty of staging what is essentially a rock and roll event, albeit one with grand and well justified artistic pretensions, in a posh West End theater (the usual fare at this particular one is the long-running musical Miss Saigon) is outweighed by the self-defeating incongruity of everyone being assigned to a seat.
Granted, I don't think anyone's posterior spent a scant second attached to said seat once Morrissey made his appearance, and the ushers and numerous bouncers had a fulltime battle on their hands trying to keep the aisles clear, but it just wasn't the same. I didn't even try to get nearer the stage, being fortunate enough to have a seat only about 50 feet distant, so I resolved to simply enjoy the music, which of course I did, even if the set list was virtually identical to Friday night's.
I don't even mind opening myself up to merciless ridicule by admitting that on three separate occasions I was in tears from the sheer beauty of the songs, and was fascinated almost from start to finish. Unlike Friday, though, there were a few moments when the magic was shattered, one of which, shockingly enough, came when Morrissey muffed a note early on in "Moon River" and subsequently held back whenever he'd get to the high parts, rendering an already inconsequential selection superfluous. The crowd loved it anyway. "Moon River" was preceded by a freak-out finale to "National Front Disco" that was at least twice as long, cacophonous, and intensely lit (about halfway through I began to fear a strobe-induced epileptic seizure) as it needed to be.
Morrissey himself, possibly because this was the last night of the tour, perhaps also because these were the sort of surroundings to which he'd prefer to be accustomed, was in fine form, much more relaxed and voluble than he'd been the other night, and offering up some ad lib or other between almost every other song. Unfortunately, I can't really remember any of them, so perhaps they weren't so brilliant as they seemed. Oh, except during one interlude when the whole theater had grown quiet but for one joker who persisted in hollering "MOR-RIS-SEY!" to which the Great One replied patiently, "I told you I'd see you later." Well, it seemed clever at the time.
But the concert ended on a very sour note indeed. The band had just re-taken the stage for their pro forma encore of "Shoplifters Of The World", sarcastically introduced by Morrissey as "a moment of blinding spontaneity," when the stage was absolutely mobbed by punters anxious to take their last chance at giving the Mozzer a ritual embrace. They'd barely gotten eight bars into the tune before Morrissey and/or the microphone vanished beneath a human wave, and moments later he was rushed offstage by security, followed immediately thereafter by the rest of the band.
There was a stunned silence, some booing, and then a great stomping and cheering of the crowd urging them to come back, but it was not be. Up came the lights, the audience booed some more, but very politely, as well-bred British audiences are wont to (I think many American audiences would have ripped the place apart), and filed like dutiful sheep to the exits.
I was bitterly disappointed at not hearing "Shoplifters" again, and hated
for such a splendid event to have ended so anticlimactically, but I braced
myself against the cruelties of fate and determined to go on living all
the same. I wandered out into the West End; it had grown quite cold, and
people were striding purposefully toward their destinations rather than
ambling and strolling the way they had been earlier in the evening. While
I walked home (a good five miles), I sang the entire "Louder Than Bombs"
album and threw in a few "Vauxhall And I" songs for good measure. Well,
that last bit's not really true, but it could be. Ought to be, in fact.
Life really can be quite grand sometimes.