Words cannot adequately convey the magic that is a Morrissey concert. The energy, loyalty and fervor of Moz fans are beyond compare. And tonight was no exception.
After a series of projected video footage (including a frenetic Ike and Tina Turner, the ever-defiant New York Dolls, and the always poignant and acerbic musings of British poet Edith Sitwell) to work up the sold-out crowd. Morrissey and his band walked out on stage. The current band lineup includes Moz’s long-time collaborator Boz Borer on guitar and clarinet, Jesse Tobias on guitars, Solomon Walker on bass, Matt Walker on drums and Gustavo Manzur on keyboards, piano and synths. All 4 were adorned by “Morrissey for President” t-shirts.
I’ve always found Morrissey’s performances admirable and noteworthy for their organic nature and his inability to do anything OTHER than wear his heart on his sleeve. That can be good (as happened tonight) or not so good (as is the cases when he’s gotten upset and walks off stage at various times in the past). For better or worse, I’ve never felt like Morrissey is an artist to “phone in” his performances. When seeing Morrissey you never know exactly what you’re going to get. And would you really want it any other way? One such surprise during the evening was when keyboardist Gustavo came out front and center and sang the majority of “Speedway” in Spanish, with Moz watching supportively from the sidelines while banging a tambourine.
(photos by Jason Reed)
The receptive crowd was also witness to many public displays of protest and social critique that complemented the songs performed. For example, during “Gangland” the audience was exposed to various footage of American police brutality (including shots of detainees being unnecessarily kicked, pummeled and physically abused as well as “classic” footage of the Rodney King beating that set off the LA riots). Other shots included Prince William and his wife with the caption “United King-Dumb.” Later on “The Bullfighter Dies” started off a double song set relating to animal rights that quickly moved into increasing morosity with the first notes of “Meat is Murder.” The last three times I’ve seen him perform the latter, it has been accompanied with an overlay of graphic PETA footage highlighting the brutality of the meat industry. The undulating thumping of bass guitar and kick drum drove home the alarming footage of cows necks’ being sliced as the camera pans in to showcase the sheer look of terror and despair in their reflective eyes. Seeing such footage in the middle of a rock concert isn’t a phenomenon that most concertgoers are used to. The longtime fans are well acquainted with these harsh truths whereas first timers had a justifiably turbulent reaction. I saw at least three people in my general vicinity become nauseous and/or disgusted and walk out of the crowd as though they were about to vomit. And this is, no doubt, the response that Morrissey wants. That his fans are human beings and, with the right amount of education and enlightenment, will probably find it increasingly difficult to deny the pain and suffering that their meat-eating ways promote. Lastly, rounding off the audio/visual displays meant to elicit a response from the audience, the encore performance of the “Queen is Dead” showcased a full-screen projection of Queen Elizabeth with her middle fingers defiantly pointed upwards.
(photos by Jason Reed)
Personal highlights for me were hearing the newer (but destined to become a classic) track “World Peace is None of Your Business,” as well as “The World Is Full of Crashing Bores,” “First of the Gang to Die” and one of my favorite Morrissey songs of all time, “Jack the Ripper.” Morrissey’s voice was characteristically clear and resonant, while the band cranked out tunes worthy of a studio session recording.
Another memorable moment of the concert came with the obligatory “tossing of the shirt”, which occurred twice. A friend of mine named Allan (if you go to any concerts in LA you’ve probably seen his smiling face and spiky pompadour front and center at many, many concerts!) managed to grab part of Moz’s shirt that was quickly ripped to shreds by fervent fans. This piece of cloth is now being worshipped more devoutly than the Shroud of Turin and will no doubt be kept in a vacuum sealed vault for preservation into perpetuity! Such is the value and scarcity of having a “piece of Morrissey.” Allan told me he’s sending me a few threads from the shirt. Now I can honestly confide that I’ll be able to avoid being threadbare by being able to pull at Morrissey’s strings for years to come. And that is a fate I can fully accept.
(photos of Allan and the “Shroud of Morrissey”)
– Jason Reed
Inner Edge Music
2. Alma Matters
5. How Soon is Now?
6. First of the Gang to Die
7. World Peace is None of Your Business
8. Staircase at the University
9. I Will See You in Far-Off Places
10. This Charming Man
11. Kiss Me A Lot
12. I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
13. Jack the Ripper
14. Oboe Concerto
15. The World is Full of Crashing Bores
16. What She Said
17. Everyday is Like Sunday
18. The Bullfighter Dies
19. Meat is Murder
20. You Have Killed Me
21. Let Me Kiss You
22. The Queen is Dead