Morrissey, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

4.00

 

Unless we were mistaken, Morrissey appeared to be signing off his latest tour with a hint that the Queen should consider him for honours.

After declaring that the British judiciary more or less murdered a roll call of free-thinkers including Wilde, Shelley, Byron and Keats, he concluded “and nothing's changed. The British establishment still give prizes to the mediocre - and they hate people who are not mediocre.” Which might not seem like evidence in itself, but when this noted contrarian followed it up with a beautiful, yearning version of "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want…"

It wasn’t so much what he said as the wounded whimper in which he pronounced it, which is all part of the Morrissey his fans accept with love and occasional confoundment. Does he really think it’s about time, at the age of 53 and with his announced retirement plans giving him twenty-two months of a career left, that he should gain official recognition?

Or was his speech merely tongue in cheek, drawn from the same school of impenetrable impudence that had him introduce his dragged-up guitarist Boz Boorer as “Gaynor Tension” or appear before a graphic of Wilde himself emblazed with a speech bubble containing the words “who is Morrissey?”

It would be hard to imagine him kneeling before any monarch. In a strident "Shoplifters of the World Unite", the ever-unbowed "Speedway", a noisily chopped-out "Still Ill" and the revived "Ouija Board Ouija Board", there was an old, fierce annoyance with life and Britain which hasn’t dimmed, and this transferred itself to an international context with new song "People Are the Same Everywhere", an orphan without a label to release it on.

Most contrary of all, however, were the moments of tender and unrehearsable emotion which emerged: the crowd’s participation with the spotlit balladry of "I Know It’s Over"; Morrissey handing over his mic to a fan in the front row who paid tribute to a late friend, “the biggest Morrissey fan”, before his idol belted out a tenderly crooned version of Frankie Valli’s "To Give (The Reason I Live)"; the simple brutality of Meat is Murder, accompanied by scarring footage of animal slaughter.

By the pounding encore of "How Soon is Now?" and the security guards’ final British Bulldog charge to stop waves of fans trying to reach the singer, his self-appointed status as a roughly-handled national treasure appeared affirmed once more.

Setlist:

Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Everyday Is Like Sunday

Alma Matters

I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris

You Have Killed Me

Shoplifters Of The World Unite

You're The One For Me, Fatty

Speedway

Maladjusted

Still Ill

One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell

Ouija Board, Ouija Board

I Know It's Over

Let Me Kiss You

People Are The Same Everywhere

To Give (The Reason I Live)

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

I Will See You In Far-Off Places

Meat Is Murder

Encore:

How Soon Is Now?

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