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Morrissey gig reviewed

Matthew Frost watches Morrissey on his fiftieth at The Apollo on Friday 22nd May

Published on May 26th 2009.

Morrissey gig reviewed

A vast backdrop of a smiling sailor, biceps knotted, cigar in his teeth, REFUSAL emblazoned across his chest was unveiled as Morrissey walked on in a shy but purposeful way to the microphone and muttered: ‘Ahhh, fifty gruesome years...’...

Or it might have been ‘Fifty inglorious years...’ None of us could tell. But it was wrapped in sarcasm either way.

The King of Contrary returned to Manchester to celebrate (if that is the right word) his half century. He is still a difficult man to work out. The excellent five piece band burst into This Charming Man, and 3500 people sang without hesitation, ‘Punctured bicycle / on a hillside desolate / will nature make a man of me yet?’ Which has to be one of the more literate, if opaque openings to a concert.

Half an hour later, as one, we were singing along to the unutterably silly, ‘Some girls are bigger than others / And some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers...’

From poetry to postcard, moor to beach.

There were a generous smattering of Smiths’ songs, along with half a dozen each from the new Years of Refusal and surprisingly, the five year old You Are the Quarry. There were none from his last album, Ringleader of the Tormentors one of his more exciting efforts, with its tales of physical gratification, romance that occasionally goes right, and a soundscape that embraced orchestra, choir, brass and huge booming drums. The music is more conventional and the lyrical concerns are back to the usual, a worried look death, the dead, the dying, the lovelorn, lovelost and narcisstic...

But then, who else in contemporary music can have everyone swaying to ‘no true friends in modern life / diazepam (that’s valium) / tamazepam, lithium, HRT, ECT / how long must I stay on this stuff? / don’t gimmee me anymore...’?

But then, in Let Me Kiss You, which would be a straightforward seduction from anyone else’s pen he pleaded, ‘Close your eyes / and think of someone / you physically admire / and let me kiss you ...’, but being Morrissey he continued ‘But then you open your eyes / and you see someone ...’ and he ripped his shirt off whilst howling ‘that you physically despise’.

When the song finished shortly afterwards, he ran off stage, embarrassed, to re-clothe. He dispatched three shirts during the evening, and his pumped torso, shiny and pink, seemingly unbitten by passion, was like a manicured and moisturised builder’s. He’d done this on the last couple of tours, and I still can’t work out whether it’s a celebratory act or one which he hopes invites pity. The crowd tore the shirts to pieces.

With the word REFUSAL hung behind the band, it came to me that no one can sing or phrase NO like Morrissey. He outdid himself on I’m Okay By Myself, with around thirty nos, sung in a variety of strangled, defiant, yodelled and oddly affirmative shades. I can’t think of an instance where ‘yes’ was celebrated.

Ah, back to the celebrations.

There was a half-hearted rendition from the band for a Happy Birthday near the beginning, which the crowd was out of synch with, and we were all given a royal blue banner, with ‘I came to wish Morrissey a Happy 50th Birthday: Manchester Apollo, England: Friday 22nd May 2009’ stamped upon it. The England wasn’t superfluous as I heard accents from four continents.

I’m Okay By Myself was the last song (before the encore of live favourite First Gang of the Die), a perverse choice with sentiments that stopped sentiment, with the lines ‘and I don’t need you / and I never have, I never have (Nooooooo! Noooooooo! Nooooooo! Noooooooo!)’ dulling the enthusiam.

One could have wished for something else, a song from his 25 year career which could at least have helped the audience send him off with something a little more ... effusive. I Just Want to See The Boy Happy, perhaps, obsessed by death, yearning, embarrassment, hopelessness, with a title we could have endorsed, something that he might have taken pleasure in?

‘I want to see the boy happy / with some hope in his pale eyes / Is that too much to ask? / before I die.’ But we ended with First of the Gang to Die

Matthew Frost

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LauraMay 26th 2009.

Gutted I missed it!

BoredofitallMay 26th 2009.

The last time I went to see Mozzer was the last Manchester tour he did (I think) and his 3 shirt strip routine was on then. A. I was shocked a man who is obviously quite not as young anymore keeps himself in such good shape (Must be the mung beans) and B. his embarassed waddle off stage after shedding each shirt to come back on wearing one more garish and throwable than the last. (Why do it if you them gracefully cover your manboobs like Venus De Milo and shimmy off stage for a replacement?) I find it a really odd part of his shows but then, if he hadn't done it, I would have been disappointed in him, was glad to see we were not the only one's treated to the delights of Morrissey boobies.

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