Somewhere out there the image persists that the people who allow Morrissey to continue to tour year upon year (this time was the big-budget arena version rather than the run of smaller town hall dates he also likes) are nodding-dog acolytes in too-thick glasses for whom the Mancunian singer and wit can do no wrong.
Morrissey - Hydro, Glasgow
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That’s a simple explanation, for just like anyone who loves each other long-term, the relationship has to be worked at.
Two cases in point emerged here amidst a show which was otherwise received with moist-eyed enthusiasm – the first, a relatively innocuous episode where Morrissey held forth on a subject which still remains something of a hot potato. “I was very disappointed by the outcome of the referendum,” he ventured impishly. “You missed your perfect chance, you could have had them on the run. Maybe next time.”
Some of the cheering crowd went with him; others didn’t, with boos audible.
The second episode is a familiar one in Morrissey shows, although now he has an even more vivid and frankly horrifying filmed tableau to accompany it.
For some time, the noted vegetarian activist (no meat products were for sale here) has been finishing with Meat is Murder by his old band The Smiths, set to an unapologetic, uncensored film of slaughterhouse torment. It’s a bold and typically uncompromising way of making his point, but some seemed unprepared – there were walkouts, and the band walked off and re-emerged for an encore of Speedway (always welcome) amidst stunned silence.
Something suggests this is how Morrissey would like to be remembered, as an artist who retained the power to shock rather than a jukebox revivalist of past glories. He has many decades of songs to play, and their choice here strode a fine line between crowd-pleasing and bloody-minded. Backed by his ever-excellent band, led by guitarist Boz Boorer, he included the serrated The Queen is Dead and Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before, both Smiths’ favourites, alongside the soaring melancholy of Everyday is Like Sunday.
Less familiar to the amateur Morrissey-listener might have been the swooning I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris, the Beat-referencing flamenco guitar diversion of Neal Cassady Drops Dead and the thunderous Scandinavia, owner of the choice opening line “I was bored in a fjord…” Yet just like making us feel comfortable, playing the hits isn’t Morrissey’s job, and some of the brightest moments fell in the least expected places. See, for example, One of Our Own’s striking “I have no use for tomorrow” coda, sung over and over with his hand raised against the glare of the lights.
Seen on 21.03.15