Meat off the menu for Morrissey gigs

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HE FAMOUSLY denounced meat eaters as murderers, chastising in song those who covet the "sizzling blood" and "unholy stench" of slain animals.

Now, one of modern music's most iconic songwriters has convinced a host of concert halls across Scotland to emulate his vegetarian stance - at least for one night only.

Promoters working for Morrissey, former frontman of The Smiths, requested no meat be prepared or consumed in the venues he will play on the Scottish leg of his British tour.

An ardent animal rights activist, who has not eaten meat since age 11, the singer famously walked offstage midway through his set at the Coachella festival in California two years ago after claiming he could smell "burning flesh" from a nearby barbecue.

Even in his 1980s heyday, the musician - real name is Steven Patrick Morrissey - was vehement about the cause, penning the lyrics for the title track of the band's album, Meat is Murder. The song's angry lyric condemns those who choose to eat animals with the line "death for no reason is murder".

The decision by officials at five Scottish venues to guarantee that no meat products are cooked or sold on the day of Morrisey's gigs later this month comes after organisers of a festival also to play host to the Mancunian made the event meat-free altogether.

The team behind the Lokerse Feesten festival in Belgium agreed to his demands that only vegetarian fare be sold by stalls on the day of his performance.

A spokesman for the August event said it was a "welcome catering challenge", adding that "one meatless day in ten is a healthy break for all".

The 52-year-old's string of intimate Scottish dates is due to begin tonight with a show in Perth Concert Hall, before Inverness this Friday, Dunoon on Saturday, Dunfermline on Monday and Hawick on Tuesday.

The ban on the consumption of meat products on the day of the concerts will apply to staff working at the venues, as well as catering facilities for the expected crowds. Ben Jeffries, director of marketing and communications for Horsecross Arts, owners of the Perth venue, said it would take all steps to make Morrissey feel "comfortable".

He said: "Morrissey has a life-long commitment to animal rights and vegetarianism so, understandably, does not like the smell of cooking meat when preparing for or, indeed, performing a gig.

"We are delighted to be welcoming this fantastic artist to Perth and, as with all our artists, Horsecross will do the best we can to make him feel right at home and comfortable here in Perth Concert Hall."

Officials at the Ironworks in Inverness also agreed to his demands.A spokesman said: "We were contacted by his promoters who made us aware that no staff can consume meat on the day of his performance on Friday.

"We've made our staff aware of that, and Morrissey's been quite consistent in those views all throughout his career, so we will obviously respect them." A spokesman for the Alhambra Theatre, Dunfermline, said it had no catering facilities, so the potential problem was "not an issue".

A spokeswoman for Argyll & Bute Council, which runs the Queen's Hall in Dunoon, said there would be "no meat" prepared, cooked, or served at the venue.

Meanwhile a Borders Council spokesman said of Hawick Town Hall: "We don't provide catering at the venue for members of the public, only drinks at the bar, so there won't be any meat prepared or on sale."

Su Taylor, spokeswoman for the Vegetarian Society, said: "Morrissey's fans are a very loyal bunch, they are also probably very aware of his commitment to vegetarianism. It's great he can stand by his principles."