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- Morrissey »
By the time Morrissey’s shirt comes off for the second time at the end of the encore, one thing’s clear: he’s American alright.
Tanned and toned, he’s aged much better than the reforming Pixies. Four nights into a five night residency at one of LA’s premier venues, it’s clear from the crowd’s racial mix that America loves Morrissey even more than Manchester. He loves it too, despite some of the taunting sentiments of his new record, 'You Are The Quarry'. Make no mistake, this isn’t about bitterness, tonight is a pure celebration.
With waiter service carrying drinks trays throughout the crowd of 2,500 (even in the standing part), the venue more resembles a private party than a downtown concert, and by the time ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ turns up, that’s exactly what it is. The chugging, brooding guitars meet with Morrissey’s magically spot on vocals, and time is eradicated. Imagining the euphoria that meets The Smiths’ calling card, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, is impossible.
Two other notable nods to the past include ‘A Rush and A Push…’ and ‘Headmaster’s Ritual’. Both drip in the unadulterated rain-sodden northern wit that made him, and while the former (the opener from The Smiths’ swansong LP, 'Strangeways Here We Come') gets hips shaking amid the melting, driving synths, the dank slander of ‘Headmaster’s Ritual’ is as beautifully tragic as it ever was.
Glistening and bulging in a check shirt, grimacing and gesturing like a Shakespearian actor, Morrissey commands every inch of the stage in front of his five-piece band. His perfect pitch and sumptuous falsetto are timelessly intact. Musically, it’s all note perfect session stuff, but as the former Smiths frontman shakes hands with the front row, his demeanour and all out respect for the crowd fulfil every bead of sweating expectation.
But it’s the grace, lyrical dexterity and melodic brilliance of his new material which makes the night so worthwhile. The knowledge that a hero is still intact brings almost as wide a smile to his fans as new single ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’. While his guitarist donning a Flying-V looks a little strange, the spiralling break before the chorus, which pounds and builds under a wall of guitars, is simply wonderful.
The mid-paced, four-four swipe of 'How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?' (anonymous, ascending chord progressions underpinning a rant presumably against police and the media) is familiar, yet engaging. The beauty of his song writing has always been the full-frontal honesty and taut one-lines (“She told me she loved me/Which means she must be insane”), and it’s pleasing to see them all still in place.
‘The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores’ meanwhile, is the undeniable standout from his new material. A classic Morrissey ballad about being unloved it may be, but its sumptuous melody grows, with typically wry and acerbic digs littering his critique of people in uniforms as well as “lock jaw pop stars thicker than pig shit/Nothing to convey”. Finally, when there’s one last chance to indulge in the encore of ‘Hand In Glove’ before Morrissey’s shirtless torso disappears through the stage, it’s grabbed with rabid delight.
For many, this is the gig of a lifetime. More than just the musical genius and the legacy of influence, it’s the humility, showmanship and magical humour of one of the all-time greats that turn the crowd, and me included, to fawning pieces of jelly. It’s the rarest of pleasures.
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