Tag Archives: morrissey

Why a Morrissey concert is like a timeshare vacation

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I had the honor of seeing Morrissey perform in Austin at the Austin Music Hall last Saturday night. It was kind of a miracle because he didn’t cancel, he didn’t flounce off the stage at some unknown insult, and he didn’t cut any songs short due to crowd misbehavior. Anyway, the show was a delight, and of course I was in awe of someone who is Godlike to me.

I’m pretty sure Morrissey (or at least his marketing team) is aware of his Godlike status, because I purchased this shirt at the merch stand:

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Morrissey’s merch stand is insane. If I had known how many amazing shirts would be for sale, I would have started saving six months ago. There were probably 20 different shirts. Tongue held firmly in cheek, there was a tee shirt with Oscar Wilde thinking “Who is Morrissey?”, a shirt with the legendary picture of Moz with a cat on his head, a poster of Moz in the England shirt, a mouse pad with the photo of Moz in the bath, etc. etc. etc. This serves as a warning to anyone seeing him on this tour – be prepared to make tough choices or else spend a lot of money.

Of course, before Moz hit the stage there was the opening act. The same opening act he’s had since 2007, which means I’ve seen her several times. The same opening act that most of the audience would walk out on if they weren’t held captive by the fact that the legendary Morrissey is playing next.

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Kristeen Young is like a talentless Yoko Ono. She tries too hard to be “weird”, cacophonous, discordant, strident and unlistenable. That’s what she WANTS to sound like, I assume. It’s like a circus calliope gone off the rails while a banshee cries in the night. It’s everything you hate, and more! My friends and I have been trying to figure out why she’s been his opening act for so many years. Maybe she’s one of the few people he trusts in the world…although there are some salacious rumors going around. After all, Morrissey did reveal in his book that he is bisexual. Well, there is a lid for every pot, I suppose…if the rumors are true…

Having survived Kristeen Young for the umpteenth time, I was ready to hear some actual music from Morrissey. He did not disappoint.

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Here is the set list:

  1. Encore:

The band were all wearing shirts that say FANCY MAN, which is funny if you’re familiar with British slang.

What I love about seeing a Morrissey show is the realization that he feels the music as much as you do. I always get angry when I sing along with Speedway, and I saw that rage reflected in his expression. Hand In Glove followed by I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris packed a surprising punch. I ended up crying, but that’s to be expected at this show. If you don’t at least tear up a little bit during a Morrissey concert, you might want to check the dose of your meds.

The highlight of the show was Everyday Is Like Sunday. The crowd was joyous, and sang along loudly. Everyone was smiling, cheering, raising their hands in the air, dancing and laughing.

The low point of the show came during Meat Is Murder. The film Meet Your Meat was shown on the backdrop, as it has been for years. I have learned it’s better for me if I just look down at the floor or watch the crowd rather than seeing that film. Yes, I do eat meat, but not as much as I used to. I don’t like being visually assaulted. This is why a Morrissey show is like a timeshare vacation. If you want to see the entire performance, you have to sit through this demonstration film for a few minutes. I watched the faces in the crowd and saw expressions of disbelief, horror, shock, and disgust. Some were like me and looked away.

The song finally stopped playing, and I looked up to see that Morrissey and the rest of the band had their backs to the audience and were watching the film as it silently flickered on the backdrop. I have to hand it to him, he had the strength to actually watch it and I did not. Things got incredibly awkward as the minutes ticked on and the film still played. The crowd was murmuring to one another, a swell of rumbling discomfort that rose in volume as time went on. I think some people walked out. Finally, the film stopped and the show went on, minus some of the goodwill that Morrissey had earned with the crowd.

The next song was National Front Disco, which seems rather upsetting considering the election results in Europe this weekend. I don’t think that the crowd really forgot about the horrors of Meat Is Murder, but finally the energy was back to the usual levels when Moz came back out for the encore, singing Asleep. I’ve never heard him sing that at a concert. It’s one of my favorite Smiths songs, and it means a lot to me. Hearing and watching him sing it really transported me back to some sad times in my life, and I wept openly. My heart broke open. What a wonderful moment…

During the final song, there were a few people who rushed the stage to tackle/hug our hero. He was encouraging them to come up, holding out his hand and waving them up. Sometimes security intervened and the moment was lost, but there were a few who achieved their goal. The one I remember the most was a gentle and sweet-looking ginger-haired boy, who clasped Moz by the waist and rested his ginger head on Moz’s chest. The look on Moz’s face was one of surprise, then acceptance, then reassurance as he patted the boy on the shoulder.

The whole evening seemed surreal. I had a good spot in the crowd and could see his expressive face as he sang. It’s been a long time since I was that close for a Morrissey performance. Considering the health scares he had last year, it was pretty amazing that I got to see him again. I hope he will come back around…but somewhere in the back of my mind I always worry that every time I see Morrissey, it will be the last time.

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The five stages of Morrissey fandom

I have spent the last few days listening to quite a lot of Morrissey and The Smiths. Seeing as how this week marks the 25th anniversary of the release of one of the greatest albums of all time, The Queen is Dead, I felt I should write about my love for Morrissey.

I have been a Morrissey fan ever since I met my first boyfriend. I would go over to his house and we’d sit in his bedroom and listen to the first Smiths album, and sometimes we’d cry together. (Yes, he turned out to be gay and left me for a boy.) He educated me about a lot of amazing music, but I really fell in love with Morrissey and The Smiths.

Morrissey spent a lot of time alone reading books, just like I did. We both thought Oscar Wilde was a genius, and we both thought we were unloveable. I wear black on the outside, because black is how I feel on the inside. If I had ever thought of getting a tattoo at age 17, I am pretty sure it would have said that. (I am glad I never got this tattoo though)  Things change as you get older…that being said, here is my interpretation of the Five Stages of Morrissey fandom.

1.  Romanticism

Keats and Yeats are on your side…

When you first encounter Morrissey, you’re a teenager (if you’re lucky).  Teenagers feel things so much more deeply than anyone else in the world.  I would hear Morrissey’s songs and they would speak to me in such powerful ways.  I was an outsider and a loner, and so was he.  It was terribly romantic to picture him as a Byronic figure, standing on the windswept moors, with a tear running down his cheek.  Only he understood the pain of living.  Only he could rescue me from that pain.

2. Wit

Morrissey is known for making good sound bites.  He has often gotten himself into trouble for saying things that have been misconstrued.  Back in the 80’s, he gave a good quip.  I remember that he said things like “Long hair is an unpardonable offense which should be punishable by death.” (Later, I discovered this photo of him as a lad with very long hair…haha!) He also loved to put down other pop stars of the time.  He accused Robert Smith of The Cure of being a “whingebag”.  Robert Smith replied by saying that, “If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’ll eat meat; that’s how much I hate Morrissey.”  (Not that Robert Smith is an angel – I  remember that he said he wanted to see George Michael hung by the neck – I can’t find the exact quote but you get the idea.)

But you lose, because Wilde is on mine….sugar…

During this phase, the young Morrissey fan will educate him or herself by reading loads and loads of Oscar Wilde, Byron, Shelley, Keats, etc. etc.  Every word that passes the lips of a Morrissey fan in this stage is either a quote, an epigram, or a witticism of their own invention.  This becomes very tedious for their friends, if they should happen to have any.

This phase ends when the fan reads A Taste of Honey by Shelagh Delaney, and ends up highlighting every line that ended up in a Morrissey song.  Finding out that Morrissey has plagiarized and taken on loan creates an overwhelming sense of disillusionment, which is immediately internalized and forgotten so that you can continue to listen to Morrissey and not feel like the world is crashing around you.

3.  Vegetarianism

Steven, you don’t eat meat…

I personally have never gone through this phase, because when it comes to food I am unable to deny myself.  Well, I do eat a lot less meat than I used to, but that’s just out of necessity due to not having any money.  Also, there are all sorts of nasty diseases caused by toxic meat, and also I happened to read Fast Food Nation, which is The Jungle of the 21st Century.  If you don’t know what The Jungle is,  click here.

However, the young Morrissey fan who first hears Meat is Murder may become inclined to eschew meat, leather, dairy, eggs, and all of those things that are made from animals.  The Morrissey acolyte will also make sure to let everyone within hearing know that they are eating the decayed flesh of an animal that once had a face, or some such similar lecture.  This phase will either continue until the person becomes a vegan, or it will end once their family cooks up a barbecue.

I did see Morrissey at Coachella in 2009, and he could smell the barbecued meat coming from a nearby food vendor.  He left the stage for a moment, declaring, “I smell burning flesh…I hope to God it’s human.”

4.  Death Wish

It’s inevitable.  If you are listening to Morrissey, eventually your thoughts will dwell upon your eternal slumber.  For someone that has written so many songs about suicide, Morrissey sure does persist in staying alive.  Still, there is nothing like listening to endless litanies about how things would be so much better if you were dead.  I used to listen to Asleep before I went to sleep, which is a song about killing yourself and/or dying in your sleep.  NITEY NITE!  SWEET DREAMS!  Yes, I had issues.  (Still do)  It’s terribly romantic to think of your funeral, and all of the people who would be there in tears, wishing they had been nicer to you while you were alive.  (Ah, youth!)  This is the phase in which I should have gotten that tattoo I mentioned earlier.

5.  Nostalgia

Once you’re grown up, and you’ve become a clever swine, Morrissey might lose some of his allure.  The golden god may tarnish a bit and you might forget about him altogether.  If you forget about Morrissey, I hope you enjoy your corporate sycophantic life, because you are dead inside.  As long as you have a little affection for the Mozzer, you will continue to question reality.  When you’re listening to Morrissey and The Smiths during this phase, you will think back on all of those nights you spent crying into your cat’s fur and smile fondly.  What fools we all were in those days, ah what fun to write your suicide note in longhand while tears splashed the page!  Is it weird to feel nostalgia for crippling depression?  I am not sure.  All I can say is that back in the late 80’s, Morrissey already knew how we were going to feel about him in the future, so he wrote a song about it.

Listen below to Rubber Ring, and remember that Morrissey is in the corner of your room, holding a torch.

When you’re dancing and laughing, and finally living, hear my voice in your head and think of me kindly…do you love me like you used to?