In Morrissey’s world, the “c-word” isn’t the word you thought of just now. I should know, having encountered a Morrissey devotee while waiting in line. I said something to the effect of how pleased I was that the tour was running smoothly and that this show had not been cancelled.
“Oh, god,” she responded, “I don’t like to even use the c-word.”
And can you blame her? Morrissey’s tours are an unending will-he-or-won’t-he drama; the constant speculation makes him live music’s version of the Preakness Stakes. It’s a shame we associate “Morrissey live” to “cancel” given what a magnetic performer he is. Drama aside, Morrissey puts on a majestic show.
Armed with a large projection screen and an enormous gong, Moz and his band took the stage at a temporarily meat-free Red Rocks Amphitheater following a series of video clips featuring the New York Dolls, Anne Sexton and Charles Aznavour. He opened with “Suedehead” and “Alma Matters”, pausing afterwards to say, “We are, of course, thrilled to be in Morrison.” Next came “Ganglord”, timely as ever (“Ganglord, the police are grinding me into the ground”) and rendered extra harrowing by footage of police brutality playing behind him.
Inside the crowd, the atmosphere was downright religious. The audience pressed close, lobbing flowers (and, in a few cases, themselves) over the barrier and onto the stage. People sung and danced along, never allowing a gap between to songs to pass without someone yelling “I love you, Morrissey!” Moz fed off the response, flinging his microphone cord around and embracing his role as saint, savior and populist poet with winking grace and wit.
Said classic northern wit was on full blast. “Wherever you go, no matter how fast you run – God knows I’ve been running fast for many years – but wherever you go, always behind you is the filthy, disgusting past,” he mused prior to the Smiths’ “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before”. He poked fun at “Coloradah” and the scent of a certain “vegetate” in the thin air, a good-natured gesture towards “this area [of] my youth.”
He closed his regular eighteen-song set with the tender “Now My Heart Is Full”, a necessary mood swing after “Meat Is Murder” and its accompanying video footage of slaughterhouses. Within minutes he returned to the stage and launched into “Every Day Is Like Sunday”, holding hands with audience members as he sang. The encore hit critical mass during “The Queen Is Dead”, Morrissey tearing his shirt off and tossing it into the crowd with theatrical flair before strutting off stage.
Reader beware: if you intend to remain skeptical of Morrissey, don’t go to a gig. It’s impossible to be anything other than a zealot with such a brilliant performer for a saint.
World Peace Is None of Your Business
Kiss Me a Lot
First of the Gang to Die
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before (The Smiths)
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Staircase at the University
The Bullfighter Dies
Yes, I Am Blind
I Will See You in Far-Off Places
The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
What She Said (The Smiths)
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths)
Now My Heart Is Full
Everyday Is Like Sunday
The Queen Is Dead (The Smiths)