First Night: Morrisey, The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London
Morrissey still loved, but slightly less than before
Tuesday 22 January 2008
I saw the Mancunian miserablist in 2002 in Sydney and no one batted much of an eyelid; I saw Mozza two years later in London, fresh from the acclaim of
You Are The Quarry, and numerous men (no women) of a certain age (my age) clambered ungainly on to the stage in a frenzied fashion – knowing they'd be ejected from the arena if they did – to touch the hem of this sullen man's finely-tailored garments.
Lord knows what he'd been up to during his lost seven years or so. Hurling cashew nuts at sun-kissed lovers in Venice Beach maybe? Who knows? But the Moz revival and general love-in is, amazingly, growing (despite his alleged comments to the NME about immigration), as evidenced by this packed venue and the football chants of "Morrissey, Morrissey" by the youthful, predominantly white crowd last night. "Good evening, West Ham," the gloomy bard quipped back at the chants.
Last night, at the start of his heady six-day residency, the sour-faced iconoclast looked like a portly Carphone Warehouse regional manager with his smart blue tie. He swiftly and wisely ditched the tie after a resounding, pounding performance of the sublime lament, "How Soon Is Now?". After another cracking number, "First Of The Gang To Die", a shirt button went too.
The fans might be a tad more restrained than in the past – there was a bit of civilised surging towards the stage – but there was still an edge of frenzy. Not bad for the 48-year-old grumbler, who is as much an English eccentric as Alan Bennett, his hero, and the Kens, Russell and Livingstone. He's still a devil at snapping that microphone cord and he still does that funny, child-like flinging motion with the mic, like hurling a tea towel over a washing line. He's also still a great moaner, "my name is trouble, I believe," he said, referencing the recent NME furore.
Although he claimed to have a "frog in his throat," his distinctive, shrill voice was in fine fettle, wrapping itself wonderfully around the Smiths anthem, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before". However, like his tummy, there was a lot of what felt like filler and dreaded "new material", the highlight of which was "Something Is Squeezing My Skull", a New York Dolls-like punk thrash about. There was also the rather boorish "Life Is A Pigsty" from his 2006 album, Ringleader Of The Tormentors. A bit more of the Smiths wouldn't have gone amiss. They were a whole different kettle of beautiful gloom. If there's one band that everyone wants (and will never get) to reform it's the Smiths. Watching combatants Marr and Morrissey together would be something to see. Moz's backing band were more than adequate and Matt Watson on drums and the gong was superb, but they lack Marr's dense, wonderful otherworldly sound.
He ended with "Irish Blood, English Heart", the most compelling song from You Are The Quarry and the anthem "The Last Of The International Playboys". They received the most manic response of the night, with men flinging themselves through the crowd to reach their messiah, who, in turn, ended up flinging off his shirt. It was rousing, but I can't help feeling that, well, I still love you but slightly less than I used to.
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
Eurovision 2015: Graham Norton returns with another cutting commentary - his best lines
Eurovision 2015: The best moments from Australia's random entry to Lithuania's gay kiss
Clarkson, Hammond and May Live: Top Gear trio returns with a blend of fireworks, AC/DC and 'automotive pornography'
Eurovision 2015 winner: Sweden beats Russia and Italy to take the title from Conchita Wurst
Eurovision 2015: Estonia seemingly enters Louis Tomlinson from One Direction
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland