Morrissey, Albert Halls, Stirling

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The Independent Culture

Something's exploded," quipped Morrissey in response to some minor onstage technical crisis, "and it's not my emotions, for once." There followed a Moriartyish cackle, a jagged "ha!" of the kind reserved for pantomime villains. It's a brave soul who would describe Britain's favourite revenant miserablist in such a fashion, but he clearly enjoys his current role of potentially combustible anti-hero.

Long since rehabilitated from the musically lost years which ushered him into middle age, Morrissey has been through as many fresh controversies as he has new albums since then. He's quite possibly unique in that the quality and novelty of his music is almost entirely surplus to the lyrical content.

Tonight, he's preaching to the converted, and their faith, on this tour in support of the Years of Refusal album, remains strong.

The other point of interest, of course, is whether or not Morrissey still seems to be enjoying himself.

Due to celebrate his 50th birthday 18 days after this show, he recently remarked that he didn't anticipate continuing to perform past his 55th birthday. Singer and audience's time together, then, is growing short, although age didn't seem like such a consideration when he ripped his shirt off to cheers twice during the show.

In other words, yes: he does still seem very excited by the whole live circus. A plea was made for the house lights to go up, because "I want to see the crowd." They flicked on for a mere second, and then: "that's enough". Out went the lights again. Off walked Moz with a chuckle.

A set drawn from throughout his career was ageless in the sense that the likes of "How Soon is Now?", "Girlfriend in a Coma", "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" and "Irish Blood English Heart" could have been written by an artist of any age. Nothing in their air of sensitive, cultured disdain mark them as the work of either a younger or an older man.

There were further treats, including "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself" and a stunning "Seasick, Yet Still Docked". During the lone encore, "First of the Gang to Die", Morrissey had to be wrestled free of a fan standing in the front row who just wanted to be pulled onstage for a short hug. Passion like that, you see, just doesn't get old.