Morrissey’s last UK tour read like a list of all the country’s arenas, and as these were, by all accounts, sold out, it would appear that the decision to play altogether smaller venues this time around was his, rather than being due to any lack of audience interest. Which is great news for those of us who hate arenas, but even taking into account this smaller venue strategy, this was small. It’s certainly not every day you see a star of Morrissey’s magnitude in a 500-ish capacity venue, and it was great to see him so close up.
The gig opened brilliantly, with Moz leading the band out, unlit fag hanging from his mouth. The fag was then duly placed behind his right ear, and the band launched into The First Of The Gang, with the audience singing along to every word. The audience were also rather vocal on the old Smiths' fave Still Ill which followed before the recent single, You Have Killed Me, concluded a glorious triple tracker entry.
The set sagged a little after this as it was perhaps too reliant on the new album, The Ringleader Of The Tormentors (as promising as it sounds on early listens), although Girlfriend In A Coma certainly got the crowd going again. And with the odd exception, Morrissey was in fine voice, too. Let Me Kiss You was beautifully sung, as was the Ringleader… track Life Is A Pigsty. But best of all the new material for me was the ferocious I Will See You In Far-off Places.
The most surprising moment was a cover of Magazine’s A Song From Under The Floorboards, though with the 'as ugly as sin' line, it sounded like something that Moz might have written. After this, he asked the audience to "Name that tune." Indeed, he was on good form throughout, from his introductory "We’ll try our best" to the introduction of members of the band. There, the musicians were deemed "irreplaceable" and "indefatigable" amongst other things before Moz reaching himself and said, "You’d hate me if you knew me." My personal favourite bit of chat, however, was when (addressing a Welsh audience, remember) he announced "I forgive you for the Stereocronics."
The set ended in a pretty darn fine manner with How Soon Is Now before
a quick encore consisting of Irish Blood English Heart where the audience
went mental! I would have liked another song or two at this point, but if you
believe in the 'leave the audience wanting more' manifesto, then Morrissey
certainly succeeded in this, especially after he had virtually ignored the
first seventeen years of his solo career.
The support act, Sons & Daughters, turned in a fine set too, one that got
better as it went on. With a kiss-curl guitarist, Mrs. Deadpan on bass, and
the ghost of former Bunnymen drummer Pete De Freitas on drums, they stomped
their way into our hearts as their lead singer gyrated in a leopard print dress.
Imagine The Yeah Yeah Yeahs going rockabilly and covering Stan Ridgway's Camouflage,
and you should have a pretty good idea of how they sound. There was even whistling.
And there’s never enough of that in rock’n’roll!
Yeah. A good gig!