First up were the support band, for whom I didn't care much. Pretty much back-to-basics '70s rock, with a few glam elements. I think they were called The Anyones or something.
Then Morrissey came on. A recording poem (by John Betjeman, I believe) was played, then Moz came on, launching into I Want The One I Can't Have, to riotous applause. He went on stage wearing a simple black shirt, and his trademark short back and sides; a middle-aged man, somewhat paunchy, but unmistakably Morrissey. The crowd (many of whom undoubtedly grew up listening to The Smiths) loved him. He sang a number of old songs (Suedehead, Hairdresser On Fire (with the words changed subtly), a heartfelt rendition of Meat is Murder, Everyday is Like Sunday (with a banjo)), November Spawned A Monster (with some funk guitar, and a clarinet) and some new numbers (more on those later).
Anyway, Morrissey put on a great show; singing with gusto and passion, his voice as clear, emotive and vulnerable as ever, and dancing around the stage, with the sorts of stylised gestures of awkwardness and ungainliness that were so Morrissey. In between sets, he engaged the audience with banter (at one stage announcing that he had nothing with the company named Morrissey which sold see-through underwear, and getting stuck into the media and the meat industry); his speaking voice is a lot deeper than his singing voice.
And Morrissey's new songs are quite good; The First Of The Gang To Die is a classic Morrissey ballad crooned over guitar rock, written in Morrissey's new Los Angeles home. The World Is Full Of Crushing Bores was the sort of thing you could expect from Morrissey; disdain for the vulgar world we live in, with a touch of that famous smothering self-pity. Irish Blood, English Heart is a meditation on England past and present ("I'm dreaming of a time when the English are sick to death of Labour and the Tories..."). It's clear that, as a songwriter, Morrissey is in fine form. I for one will probably buy his next album on the day it comes out.
The show ended with Morrissey removing his shirt and throwing it into the audience, where it was undoubtedly torn to tiny pieces, each of which will be cherished by whoever got it, and leaving the stage, telling us that God, Oscar Wilde and someone else whose name escapes me were with us. Shortly later he came back on, in a plain white shirt, and performed There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, to riotous applause; people were singing along with it in the audience. He thanked the audience and left the stage, leaving the band to finish the song.
(Security was notionally tight, with bags being half-heartedly checked for cameras and recording devices. However, I managed to sneak a camera and a minidisc recorder in in my pockets. I got some photos, but as far as recording goes only succeeded in finding out what an effective low-pass filter a coat pocket makes, and why one should always monitor with headphones when recording a gig. I doubt much could be salvaged of the recording. Time to invest in a good-quality lapel mike for next time, I think; either that or not take photos and record at the same time.)
Update: Photographs of this gig now reside in this gallery.
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