(Royal Oak Music Theatre, MI – October 19th, 2007)
As everyone and any one know, the 48-year-old British vocalist - who came to fame as the leader of legendary modern-rock troupe The Smiths - isn’t known for delivering the most uplifting of evenings. Showing short clips of long-lost weird dance videos, some Elliot Ness reels, along with the wardrobe tests for 'East Of Eden' (and featuring a very sombre/silent James Dean), even before Morrissey took the stage a computerized british voice began listing such seemingly random things as rape, the death of the rainforest, Tiananmen Square, many British TV shows, Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment and Jesse Helms.
Things didn’t get any brighter once the man of the hour actually took the stage either. Morrissey went on to give the crowd songs filled with despair and isolation, complemented by tunes brimming with darkness and trouble. He sang about how bleak it is today and, for the most part, that there isn’t much hope for tomorrow. Good ol' Morrrissey ... at least he hasn't sold out his values to the nu pop generation!
Mind you, the crowd loved every moment of it!
Performing with a five-piece band in front of a backdrop of (a young) Richard Burton's face, Morrissey began spreading the bad tidings and no cheer with the very first offering, The Smiths’ 'Queen is Dead,' as he repeatedly howled out the lyric, “life is very long, when you’re lonely.”
As you can see, Morrissey isn’t for everyone. But he sure worked for this crowd. The audience acted like they were witnessing true greatness as the singer continued through “The Youngest was the Most Loved,” “You Have Killed Me” and “All You Need is Me.”
The crooner was in fine voice, whirling his mic chord around like he was trying to swat a gigantic fly, whilst at the same time exhibiting a vocal range that never even blonked an eye at exhaustion. Between songs he even showed a lot of chatty warmth with the crowd, referencing the ongoing Ellen DeGeneres dog saga, his depressing music, and his desire to have a cigarette mid-set.
As expected, the second half of the 90-minute set featured many of the singer’s best-known works such as The Smiths classic 'The Boy With the Thorn in His Side,' 'Everyday is Like Sunday' and 'How Soon is Now?' As the 30th plus song finally brought the set to a close, Morrissey ended with 'First of the Gang to Die' - featuring the memorable words: “You have never been in love until you’ve seen sunlight thrown over smashed human bone.”
Morrissey - with nurmerous shirt and T-shirt ("Je Suis Morrissey") changes throughout the soaking set - is one artist who may never be, or at least never sound, happy. And for some reason that the rest of us outside the cult may never understand, that makes his fans (such as I) ecstatic!
Review by Russell A. Trunk