The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'morrissey'
The Guardian's Dorian Lynskey on popular music artists with autoparodically distinctive styles of titling songs:
Ten years ago, my colleague on the soon-to-be-defunct Select magazine, Steve Lowe, had a good line in inventing fake song titles, spoofing the faux-profound contradictions of Oasis (Money Makes You Poor), the twee archaisms of Belle and Sebastian (Take Your Coat Off or You Won't Feel the Benefit) and the parenthesis-loving rock cliches of Richard Ashcroft (Standing Out from Everyone Else (Sure Is Hard)).The article was prompted by a new Richard Ashcroft album with a track listing packed with clunky banalities, but soon explores further afield, mentioning fake track listings for unreleased albums and commercially successful artists' unintentionally comic lapses in self-awareness:
I'd like to think Primal Scream were sending themselves up on 2006's Riot City Blues with titles such as Suicide Sally and Johnny Guitar or We're Gonna Boogie, but I fear not. Equally, Christina Aguilera's Sex for Breakfast was probably conceived in the spirit of Sex and the City 2 rather than Flight of the Conchords. And Oasis's Don't Believe the Truth is every bit as stupid-clever as Money Makes You Poor.And, as one might expect, the discussion turns to Morrissey, whose later material serves as a perfect horrible example:
I once made the mistake of telling Morrissey how much I liked the witty self-parody of How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel and was rewarded with a withering glare. "It's amusing when you say it," he said unsmilingly. "I don't know why. Isn't it something we all feel at some stage?" The shrivelling of Morrissey's spirit since the Smiths can be measured by the fact that Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now is funny and How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel is not.And in the comment, Guardianistas inveigh with their own suggestions, one positing that the entire heavy-metal genre should be disqualified from contention because it has a monumental unfair advantage.
The Graun's Alexis Petridis is not impressed with the new Morrissey album:
At least the sound fits the lyrics, which are so horribly sour you could make cottage cheese by leaving a pint of milk next to the speakers while it's playing. Morrissey has been petulant and nasty before, but there was usually a mitigating hint of arched eyebrow, or a flash of wit. Here, there's nothing but vituperative clumsiness: "You lied about the lies you told, which is the full extent of what being you is all about."
It's not so much that you've heard what he has to say on Black Cloud or That's How People Grow Up before; it's more that you've heard him say it better. There's a compelling argument that Morrissey keeps attracting new, young fans because his apparently immutable worldview, in which it's always someone else's fault and everything is so unfair, chimes with their own adolescent experience. But it's difficult to hear him singing, "There's so much destruction all over the world and all you can do is complain about me," without thinking: is this any way for a man who's nearly 50 to be carrying on? Clearly, this thought has crossed Morrissey's mind as well. "I know by now you think I should have straightened myself out," he sings elsewhere. "Thank you. Drop dead."
I recently acquired a copy of the special edition of the new Morrissey album, Ringleader of the Tormentors.
I must say that I was impressed by the packaging design. Those who have seen the CD package will know that it is styled on classical records. However, only when you open it up do you notice that the disc itself is designed to look as much like a vinyl record as possible, black on the underside (like the old PlayStation CDs) and with vinyl-like ridges along the top (like the Verbatim Vinyl CD-Rs). Which was a rather nice touch. I suspect that only the limited-edition copies may have this:
The album itself is not bad either; it's a more optimistic album than a lot of Morrissey's previous work, including You Are The Quarry, with songs like At Last I Am Born ("once I was a mess of guilt because of the flesh, it's remarkable what you can learn once you are born"), not to mention Dear God Please Help Me, whose Moz-angsty title belies its hopeful, upbeat tone. It's as if, having left socially atomised Los Angeles (and, before that, grey Britain) behind for the dolce vita of sunny Rome, Morrissey has found somewhere he feels content, made peace with his past (as evidenced in On The Streets I Ran) and decisively buried his awkward celibate image (you have undoubtedly heard about the "explosive kegs" lyric, and possibly about his mystery romance in Rome).
Musically, it follows on from Quarry. Moz's lush quasi-falsetto is still there, couched in equally lush arrangements. Among collaborators on the album are producer Tony Visconti (who has worked with David Bowie, among others), guitarist/lyricist Jesse Tobias (that's Mr. Angie Hart to the JJJ listeners in the audience), and the legendary film composer Ennio Morricone, who does a string arrangement on Dear God. Oh, and there's also a children's choir, though it's kept unobstrusive and appropriate.
Pitchfork interviews Jens Lekman, in which he talks about how he deleted all his unfinished songs from his computer and went to work in a bingo hall to take a break, the numerous records he has sampled, being beaten up by Morrissey fans (apparently the jock bullies in Sweden listen to Morrissey) and his coming Australian tour, backed up by Guy Blackman and members of Architecture In Helsinki.
This is what happens when the fans of a band known for its bookish, over-intellectual fanbase grow up and get established: Manchester Metropolitan University is holding an academic conference on The Smiths next week. The symposium, titled Why Pamper Life's Complexities, will look at the influence of Morrissey's lyrics on areas such as gender and sexuality, race, nationality and class, as well as æsthetics, fan cultures and musical innovation.
Recordings of 2004
- Morrissey, You Are The Quarry. Moz is back, and in fine form. His youthful alienation is turning into the crankiness of a lonely old man, but he still can write a good song (and give a good show).
- Pipas, Bitterclub. A new EP from this London electropop duo; A classy mixture of indiepop vocals, glitchy beats and guitars.
- The Radio Dept., Lesser Matters. Well-crafted indiepop with guitars, synths, Casio drum loops, good chord progressions and songwriting and just the right amount of Kevin Shields influence.
- Talkshow Boy, Watch As I Perform My Own Tracheotomy. Apparently not out yet, though I got an advance copy, and it's a cracker of an album. It's 20 tracks along the same lines as the Ice Police single; glitchy yet catchy electropop with razor-sharp stream-of-consciousness lyrics and titles like Ruff Lovin' In A Tuff Neighbourhood, Go Hard Or Go Home (I Wanna Tweak Yr Moog) and OMG I <3 Livejournal (And My Livejournal <3's Me).
And a few other mentions, honourable and otherwise. The new Stereolab album, Margerine Eclipse was good, though no track leapt out at me in quite the way that various tracks from previous releases have done. The long-awaited New Buffalo album was, to be honest, a bit disappointing; in building her home studio, Sally seems to have mislaid her analogue drum machine, and gone away from the layered glitchiness which made About Last Night (and early live versions of many of the songs) such a delight. Meanwhile, Björk's Medulla didn't grab me; making tracks entirely out of voice samples is an interesting experiment, though the result I'm not sure about. And then there were all the calculatedly commercial post-Interpol/Franz Ferdinand bands like The Killers.
There are a few recordings released in 2004 which I didn't get to check out properly before the end of the year, such as Minimum Chips' Sound Asleep, the Arcade Fire's Funeral and the new Styrofoam. Or, indeed, the new Interpol album. My excuse is that a lot of the money which would have gone on CDs was instead squandered on food and rent in one of the world's most expensive cities; I'll probably catch up on them in the first half of 2005.
Some other bands I discovered this year: GirlsAreShort (a Canadian electropop act), Remington Super 60/Nice System (a Norwegian lounge-pop/bossa-pop outfit), a wealth of British indie from the late 1980s and 1990s, including parts of the Sarah Records back-catalogue I hadn't heard (of) before (key bands being The Wake, The Bodines, and various bands from the Sound of Leamington Spa compilation series) and Azure Ray (an all-female indie duo from Nebraska). Not to mention an appreciation of Electric Six's, Fire (they're like the Scissor Sisters with balls or something; tacky but fun).
Top gigs of 2004 (in alphabetical order):
- BAM BAM in a backyard in Fitzroy in April. I was blown away by their energy and musicianship. They rock hard and look sharp, and if anyone deserves to make it big, it's them. And it looks like things are happening for them.
- Belle & Sebastian at the Palais in St Kilda. Easily the gig of the year. They tore the roof off the place. People were dancing in the aisles and all. The band bantered with the audience, did an AC/DC cover, and at one stage, a girl from the audience got up on stage, sang the vocals from Lazy Line Painter Jane with them and did a perfect job of it.
- Le Tigre at the Islington Academy (in London, natch). Half of it was prerecorded (though they did play guitars/keyboards and sing), though the visuals and stage performance were good to behold.
- The Chickfactor Mon Gala Papillons night in Shepherd's Bush (also in London). Stevie Jackson from Belle & Sebastian did a few quite nice songs, and Pipas took their act to the stage.
- The Radio Dept., at Barfly, Camden. They're as good live as on record.
- Radiohead at the Rod Laver Arena (back in Melbourne again). Gigs at arenas usually suck, because of the binoculars factor, but Radiohead put on a good show, despite Thom's voice faltering somewhat. Their use of the video screens was quite creative too.
- Schmoof, at the Water Rats in London. Slick if slightly silly tongue-in-cheek electropop with rock theatrics worthy of Spinal Tap and visuals handcoded in BASIC on a ZX Spectrum.
Not to mention multiple gigs by various excellent Melbourne bands, including The Rumours, Season and City City City, not to mention the aforementioned BAM BAM and Talkshow Boy.
Morrissey, Radiohead and Jarvis Cocker are now facing the spectre of fatal loss of credibility, after revelations that a Tory official likes their music. Say it ain't so, David Cameron!
As every student knows, a liking for the Smiths, Radiohead and Pulp can be a badge of pride, confirmation of your status as a romantic intellectual loner. If you're a Tory MP, however, it rather suggests that you're either not listening to the lyrics properly - what do you make of all that stuff about class resentment - or view listening to music as a slightly disturbing form of self-flagellation.
Retro-styled major-label-indie act The Scissor Sisters (they're the ones who sound like early Elton John combined with 10CC) are in a similar predicament, with Tory co-chairman Dr. Liam Fox has declared himself a fan. Then again, it could be argued that there is something inherently conservative in the recent wave of revivalist bands (Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Scissor Sisters, The Killers, and indeed the entire '70s rock revival). However, it's probably safe to say that Dido's credibility will emerge unscathed from her recent naming as Nicholas Soames' favourite artist:
The gulf between what you assume that message is and how others perceive it is often vast, however. Soames may think that liking multi million-selling Dido suggests he is a man of the people, blessed with populist taste. But liking anything that innocuous could suggest you loathe pop music, preferring it to waft delicately in the background rather than risk it moving you in any way.
I picked up a copy of Morrissey's new album, You Are The Quarry, last week. I rather like it.
You Are The Quarry was produced by Jerry Finn, best known for his work with mook bands like Blink 182 and Green Day. Perhaps Finn took this project up for the credibility (much as Trevor Horn is said to have done with the last Belle & Sebastian album); in any case, there are no big grinding nu-metal guitars, no shouted rap lyrics and no obscenities, save for the word "shit" appearing a few times. There are, however, electronics; drum machines, sampled loops, analogue synth burblings and filter sweeps, and even what sounds like a 303 squippling away under the guitars in one song. (A 303 in a Morrissey song? Surely the end times must be nigh.) The electronics are never obstrusive. Perhaps Morrissey's Smiths-era hard line against electronic music has softened over time, or possibly Finn, who, presumably, is more aware of commercial realities, persuaded him to allow them in. In any case, the decision works well, successfully maintaining the integrity of Morrissey's sound without sounding stale or rehashed.
The lyrical content is vintage Morrissey; opinionated, self-deprecating and archly humorous. He takes America to task for arrogance, prejudice and hamburgers in America Is Not The World, denounces the insipidness of mass culture in The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores, and defiantly asserts his vision for England in Irish Blood, English Heart ("I'm dreaming of a time when the English are sick to death of Labour and the Tories, and spit upon the name Oliver Cromwell, and denounce this royal line").
Those expecting Morrisseyisms won't be disappointed. I Have Forgiven Jesus is, thematically, Unloveable crossed with November Spawned A Monster ("I have forgiven Jesus, for all the love He has placed in me, when there's no-one I can turn to with this love"); How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel is a defiant, almost solipsistic assertion of alienation from the human race, preemptively writing off the possibility of any meaningful connection with a fellow human being ("She told me she loved me, which means she must be insane"), whereas, in I Like You, he sings "You're not right in the head, and nor am I, and this is why I like you". In the almost New Order-esque I'm Not Sorry, he teases the listener with another non-acknowledgment of any particular sexual orientation "The woman of my dreams, she never came along, the woman of my dreams, well, there never was one".
Other songs tell stories; The First Of The Gang To Die is presumably a Sweet and Tender Hooligan inspired by the Mexican gangbangers who have become Morrissey's biggest audience, and All The Lazy Dykes is addressed to a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. The last track, You Know I Couldn't Last, is a broadside aiming at everybody Morrissey ever was let down by: journalists, fickle fans, those who accused him of racism, and his former bandmates (described as "Northern leeches").
The US special edition of You Are The Quarry comes in a gatefold sleeve, much like a miniaturised LP sleeve, with a bonus DVD. The DVD contains the video for Irish Blood, English Heart, a handful of photographs and a copy of the lyrics which are also in the booklet. There's nothing truly essential there, though hardcore Morrissey fans will want it for the video.
For the most part, I am pleased with You Are The Quarry; it has lived up to the expectations I had from seeing him play in 2002. Though, if he really lives the life he sings about, it's a worry. Being an ungainly, lonely, misanthrope at 16 is almost normal, but if one hasn't snapped out of it by the age of 44, one is well on the way to being a cranky old curmudgeon. Listen and enjoy, but also let it be a warning: go out, make some friends, find somewhere where you belong, maybe meet a nice boy or girl and find some sort of contentment, or else you may end up like Morrissey, only without the fame and record royalties.
Morrissey, who has just released an album, has been somewhat outspoken lately; among other things, he asserts that Britney Spears is the devil, and owns up to not understanding hip-hop, and not listening to the radio anymore because it is too painful.
According to the staff at JB HiFi, Morrissey's You Are The Quarry comes out here next week, and is distributed by BMG. I wonder whether it'll have a bonus DVD, as the US gatefold version does.
The Graun interviews Morrissey, who talks about his past and his songwriting, skirts questions about his sexuality, and reveals that his new album has been recorded, titled You Are The Quarry, and comes out on the 17th of May:
He admits he was unsure if anybody still cared. "I doubt that on a monthly basis and I'm always surprised when they listen. In the midst of the seven-year gap I went through great gulps of doubt wondering whether there was actually any point to it." And yet he is hardly crippled by excessive humility. Later on he says: "I think if I was shot in the middle of the street tomorrow a lot of people would be quite unhappy. I think I'd be a prime candidate for canonisation."
He misses walking in England, and the shared TV programmes. "I miss the drab everydayness and I miss the common experience that everyone has. And I quite like the absurdity and ridiculousness of British people." You have to ask yourself if he misses the real England or the long-gone, three-channel, Sunday-closing England that he sings about.
So why does he choose to be alone? "Well, you see, I consider that to be a privilege. I don't feel like I live alone because I've made a terrible mistake or I'm difficult to look at. Can you imagine being able to do what you like and never having to put up with any other person? And their relatives. You can constantly develop when you're by yourself. You don't when you're with someone else. You put your own feelings on hold and you end up doing things like driving to supermarkets and waiting outside shops - ludicrous things like that. It really doesn't do."
He took antidepressants when he was 17 in order to help him sleep, and he has had therapy intermittently since then, but he is almost proud of his black moods. "I think if you're remotely intelligent you can't help being depressed. It's a positive thing to be. It means that you're not a crashing bore. I mean, you don't get support groups for rugby players, do you?"
Yesterday, my free, non-copy-protected replacement copy of the Morrissey Under the Influence compilation CD arrived in the mail. I can confirm that it rips without problems. As soon as my next paycheque comes in, I'll buy another copy of the crippled version for the liner notes, pribably using the defective disc for some decorative purpose. (And yes, I'm going to spend $25-30 on the booklet; given Morrissey's liner notes, it's almost the case that the disc itself is an auxilliary companion piece to the booklet.)
I presume that DMC are going to send the second, non-copy-protected pressing into the shops at some stage. No idea whether they're recalling the corrupt discs or labelling the second pressing in any way.
(The collection itself is quite interesting; there's a fair amount of old-time rock'n'roll, rockabilly and other rootsy stuff there, as well as a bit of '60s pop, punk (from the Ramones), reggae/dub, and some oddities (such as The Sundown Playboys' ethnic boot-scooting jig Saturday Night Special and Klaus Nomi's piece of neo-classical goth-fodder, Death). And, of course, a track by the New York Dolls (who sound much as I imagined them).
Mancunian street-press magazine City Life has an interview with Morrissey, recently voted Greatest Manc Frontman Ever. The entire thing is piratically transcribed here:
Who would you have voted for?
"Liam, or Mark E, or Linder Sterling. Technically, of course, Linder Sterling isn't a man. But neither are most of the others on your list."
"I honestly didn't have any decent offers. For example, three major US labels said 'We want you, but we don't want your band,' so I turned them down. Another label said 'We want to sign you, but we'd first like you to make an album with the musicians from Radiohead,' and another label said 'We'll sign you if you agree to make an album with Tracey Thorn'. Absolutely bewildering. People don't know what I've been through."
He also reveals his disappointment with Channel 4's The Importance of Being Morrissey documentary, speaks out against the invasion of Iraq (compare this with Liam Gallagher's outspoken fence-sitting on the issue and assertion that pop stars shouldn't get involved in politics, probably because supporting the war would alienate any fans with half a brain and opposing it would mean agreeing with that southern poof Albarn and losing face; isn't atavistic masculinity a wonderful thing?), and denies that his upcoming album will be named Ludus Lum(i)ni; and of course waxes Wildean at every opportunity.
A while ago, I bought a copy of Morrissey's Under The Influence compilation CD, only to find that the disc was copy-protected and all but defective for my purposes. I sent off a letter of complaint to DMC. Today, I received an email from them, apologising for the situation and offering to mail me a newly pressed Red Book-compliant copy of the CD (sans artwork/liner notes) to replace the drink coaster I had purchased. Now that's what I call customer service.
Morrissey-solo has an item on the upcoming Morrissey album. Apparently it will be called Ludus Lumini, and not Irish Blood, English Heart as was reported some time ago, and will be out in October. Let's hope Sanctuary are clueful enough to put it out as a Red Book CD and not some terribly clever trick format which doesn't play in computers (like the Under The Influence CD was in). And further down on the site is info on where to find MPEGs of the recent documentary too.
The first 15 minutes of The Importance of Being Morrissey is online at morrissey-solo.com in MPEG format; with the rest to come. (via Largehearted Boy)
I just picked up the Morrissey "Under the Influence" compilation CD. When I took off the shrink-wrap, I found:
This CD is copy protected and cannot be played on PCs or Macs.
Surely enough, the drive on my machine at work (which had no problem playing or ripping
Midbar Cactus 2.0 EMI Copy Control) fails to see the disc at all.
There was no warning of the disc being anything other than a CD anywhere on the outside of the packaging; certainly no "Don't Buy Me" stickers; one has to open the jewel case to see the notice and realise that one spent A$30 on a booklet and a drink coaster.
I intend to take the CD back to JB Hi-Fi and demand my money back, and/or complain to the ACCC or some other government body.
Update: I took the CD back to JB HiFi today. They gave me a refund in cash; the fact that the CD was not labelled as defective probably had a lot to do with it.
A piece on Sanctuary Records, the big-indie label which recently signed Morrissey. It seems that they were the label behind Iron Maiden (which explains why their name is associated with metal), and that they're the new home of the Pet Shop Boys. Also, Rough Trade seems to be part of Sanctuary, and not Mute/EMI as I thought; that's good, as it means that the next Belle & Sebastian album will most probably be out in Red Book CD format. (thanks, Owen)
(It also appears that Sanctuary are listed on the stock exchange. Is a label still an "indie" if they're publically traded, and have shareholders who could sue if they do anything that doesn't maximise profits?)
(Btw, does anyone know whether Sanctuary have distribution in Australia, and if so, with whom? I'm guessing it'd be Inertia or Remote Control or someone like that.)
Some good news: Morrissey has signed a record deal with UK independent Sanctuary Records (I think they're big on ska/reggae or somesuch, and possibly metal as well), and will start recording a new album forthwith. (Hang on, didn't he sign something with Rough Trade last year?) (thanks, Ben)
The Graun's Mark Simpson on Morrissey and his influence on popular culture:
Most of all, it was men who never recovered from Morrissey - the last two decades of British masculinity have been shaped by him. Fathered, even. His Smiths period handsome androgyny and narcissism anticipated New Man; his early solo work, with its preoccupation with gangsters, boxers and "low-life" prefigured New Lad - albeit artistic and passionate, where what followed was cynical and commercial, and with the balls to acknowledge rather than disavow the aesthetic and homoerotic.
Little wonder then that his fans are mostly male, overwhelmingly heterosexual, and all are passionately, vehemently in love with him, wrestling beefy security personnel to the floor to hug and kiss him onstage. "I'd sleep with him if he asked me to," a hod carrier from Norwich once volunteered to me at a Moz gig, out of the blue. "My girlfriend would understand," he added. "She's a Morrissey fan too." Of course she would.
Apparently Simpson has a book titled Saint Morrissey coming out later this year. Meanwhile, there's a Channel 4 documentary titled The Importance of Being Morrissey airing in the UK soon. No news on an Australian date. I may have to ask someone to tape it for me and airmail me the tape...
Morrissey is about to release a compilation of songs which influenced him. It comes out next week in the UK, but you can read the liner notes now, and the prose is everything you'd expect from Moz and more:
In early 1970s Manchester the grinding horrors of daily life are softened by song. My life is high walls topped by spiked glass, and the whirl of schoolboy tribulations are lifted only by cheaply recorded noise. In our troubles, we cut a dash to youth clubs of squalid barrack buildings, or to where hall chairs are cleared in city churches. Packed to blackness, the boys do a leisurely stride and somehow call it dancing; arms strategically and stiffly held apart from the body. The girls dance with a self-conscious air of not being watched, hunched together like chattering rats; kiss one, and die of typhoid fever. Like a child in a dream I watch, terrified and delighted.
On the flipside of happy, the Nico net caught me early. Her voice equaled the sound of a body being thrown out of a window - entirely without hope, of this world, or the next, or the previous. Onstage, she moved like a big bleak creaking house, never once altering the direction of her eyes. I am in love. Her harmonium heaves and swells like crashing waves answering each other. If Nico could've laughed, she would've. But she couldn't, so she didn't.
(via Largehearted Boy)
Apparently Channel 4 have made a fly-on-the-wall documentary about Morrissey. To be titled The Importance of Being Morrissey, the 75-minute film shows Morrissey relaxing at home, playing gigs and (among other things) drinking and visiting a strip joint. No word on his legendary girlfriend though. (via Largehearted Boy)
Via the "does Morrissey have a girlfriend" thread, A collection of letters from Morrissey to a penpal in 1981, in which he waxes disjointedly Wildean about records and other things.
So nice to know there's another soul out there, even if it is in Glasgow. Does being Scottish bother you? Manchester is a lovely place, if you happen to be a bedridden deaf mute. I'm unhappy, hope you're unhappy too.
Why do you have such an odd address, IE 22-60, do you live in a shop? Or a barn? I must know everything. I'm sorry to hear that your friend is going to Australia. He doesn't sound very intelligent. Nobody with any sense goes there. Never mind, you won't be lovely, after all, you have my letters..
He was a strange one, alright...
There is a very peculiar rumour floating around that Morrissey now has a girlfriend of all things. Yes, that Morrissey, the avowed asexual who claimed that he never had no-one ever and asserted defiantly that he'll live his life, as he will ultimately die, alone. So, has his chance come at last? Are millions of pale, anorak-clad, bedsit-dwelling celibates suddenly bereft of a role model? Meanwhile, someone on MetaFilter reckons it might be Britney. That would be wrong on so many levels.
(Still, if it's true, good luck to him. Let's just hope it doesn't adversely affect his songwriting.)
Today's video clip is a special treat: 30 seconds from the Morrissey gig on Tuesday. (AVI MJPEG file, 4Mb.) The sound is awful (due to lack of level control in my camera), but you can sort of make out that he's singing Everyday Is Like Sunday. This clip may not stay around for very long though.
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.
Luke just came back from the Morrissey gig, and it sounds like it was a good gig, at least judging by the old songs he played (including There Is A Light That Never Goes Out). And the fact that Luke left the show feeling down suggests that Morrissey has still got it.
As for me, I'm rather looking forward to this Tuesday's show. (Hmmm.. must make space on camera CF card...)
The Observer's Lynn Barber talks to Morrissey about his self-imposed exile in Los Angeles, his (lack of) place in the current music industry and the acrimony between him and former bandmates:
Los Angeles suits him, he says, because 'it's a particularly sexless city. Everybody's bodies are so sanitised, so caked in every conceivable exfoliation, cologne and mousse, they have no trace of any kind of sexuality, nothing real and earthy. So I blend in very well!'
And here's a review of a recent Morrissey show, which certainly sounds promising. (via Luke)
Yes! Morrissey is playing a solo show at the Forum on October the 15th. The show will apparently feature songs from both his solo career and the Smiths back-catalogue.
Heard on 3RRR this morning: Morrissey is rumoured to do a solo show in Melbourne, in addition to his Livid appearance. I hope so; I might not need to buy that pair of big yellow shorts in that case.
Rumour has it that Morrissey is coming out of retirement to play at Australian teenage mookfest Livid. And this is just after I bought my ticket for the separate Mogwai show. Wonder if there's any chance of Moz doing a separate gig.
¡Oye Esteban! Miserablist pop star par excellence Morrissey has become a cult figure among young Latinos in Los Angeles, and nobody quite knows why. Morrissey's new fans aren't mopey white suburban kids (no, those have rap-metal and industriogoth to angst along to), but marginalised Mexican youth in the space between Hispanic and anglo-American culture but not quite belonging to either. And thus, tattooed, macho homeboys openly cry along to Smiths songs, whilst refusing to believe that Morrissey might be gay.
"Some nights I lay in my bedroom and I listen to 'There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,' and I cry," he tells me. "I cry and cry and cry. I cry like a little bitch, man."
"People are always asking me if I'm gay because I have a photo of Morrissey hugging Johnny Marr," says Alex Diaz, a 16-year-old Smiths fanatic who plans on joining the marines when he's old enough. "My friends always ask me, 'Why do you like these queers?' But, you know, he's probably just bisexual. His songs aren't all about guys. Look at 'Girlfriend in a Coma'--that's about a girl. I think there probably would be some people who'd hate it if Morrissey ever came out and said he was gay, but, personally, I don't really care. And like I said, he's probably bisexual."
Mind you, the few remaining aging anaemic, besweatered wallflowers from the 1980s who haven't grown out of their Smiths phase don't quite know what to make of the new Morrissey fan subculture, one which they are as much outsiders in as they were back in high school:
"People have actually said to me, 'You like Morrissey? That's weird for a white guy.' And I find that completely bizarre," Hensley tells me, momentarily dropping his veil of irony for a grain of semi-sincere annoyance. "Most of the other people here wouldn't even know who Jarvis Cocker is. They only like Morrissey. We just came here to make fun of people."