- by Kevin Orton Rating: Release Date: Label:
I've only caught the first show of Morrissey's week-long run on Broadway, but based off what I saw and heard, safe to say its a triumph. He kicked things off with the Smiths classic, 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore'. One of my all-time favorite Smiths songs. So for me, the show started with a bang. Nor was it the only Smiths song in the set list. 'Is It Really So Strange' was a welcome off the wall choice. Also welcome was the perennial, 'How Soon Is Now' with the immortal line, "See I've already waited too long," to which he playfully added, "I mean just look at this face!".
Later on, the band pulled another Smiths gem out of their hat with an intense, 'What She Said' which seamlessly went into 'Rubber Ring'. The band was tight and Morrissey's guitarist was a serviceable replacement for Johnny Marr. And yet, there's truly no replacing the real deal. It should be noted, Marr was in town and despite any fan hopes, he did not put in an appearance.
To make up for that inevitable disappointment Morrissey certainly gave his fair share solo classics. Rousing versions of 'Suedehead' and 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' got the crowd cheering and singing along. I was also pleased to hear 'Hairdresser On Fire'. 'I've Thrown My Arms Around Paris', has never been a favorite of mine but the audience certainly greeted it with open arms. Personally, I more appreciated the sincere rendition of 'Seasick, Yet Still Docked'. A longtime favorite of mine from Your Arsenal. A difficult song to pull off live, it being a somewhat introspective and laid back affair. However, Morrissey and the band pulled it off magnificently. Apparently, it was the first time he's performed it in 10 years. Another surprise came with an ominously epic, 'Jack The Ripper'which served as the show's climax, complete with red lights and smoke machines on full blast. In terms of power ballads, Morrissey did a simply beautiful 'Trouble Loves Me' which almost made up for the absence of 'I Know Its Gonna Happen Someday'.
Songs like 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' and 'Alma Matters' seemed to be greeted politely by the audience but with none of the enthusiasm, they displayed for some of Morrissey's 80's and 90's work. However, 'Munich Air Disaster 1958' was a highlight of the set. 'I Wish You Lonely' from Low In High School also came off well. Same goes for, 'If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look At Me'. 'The Bullfighter Dies' has never been a favorite but was made much more intense by a backdrop of gory (pun intended) footage of bullfighters getting their just deserts and bulls agonizing on their last legs. Unpleasant viewing to be sure and deliberately so.
Given that Morrissey's covers album, California Son is soon to drop, I was expecting many more covers. However, knowing his audience, Morrissey kept these to a very select two. He did a stunning rendition of 'Morning Starship' by "the creature they called, Jobriath." And while he made a succinct point of saying Jobraith was "dead, dead, dead", he clearly was not dead in Morrissey's heart. As for this next cover, he introduced it by saying, "This song is by one of the great thinkers of the 21st Century." A picture of a very young Chrissie Hynde hit the screens and Morrissey launched into a heartfelt, 'Back On The Chain Gang'. I must admit, I was struck by what a truly brilliant song it is. Melodically, lyrically and in terms of its structure.
The aforementioned, 'What She Said/Rubber Ring' closed the show and I think if the audience had shown more enthusiasm instead of diddling with their fucking phones we would have had more of an encore. Morrissey came out in clean new shirt. He did a scathing, 'Let Me Kiss You' and then did his now customary shirt toss. Shamelessly revealing his middle-aged dad bod. Clearly meant as a fuck you to body shaming buff bod culture. A very Morrissey way to end a splendid evening. Again, if the crowd had given up more at the end for the man they came to see, we might have had more of an encore. And I can't say for sure but it seemed the rather anti-climatic end of the evening was a comment on that. Well, it certainly left you wanting more. Instead, we got a Jean Cocteau-like film on repeat of a young man artfully blowing his brains out. And that's one of the things I love about Morrissey. His dark, twisted sense of humor. Something his detractors don't often give him enough credit for.
Regardless of some the stupid shit that comes out of your big mouth, Morrissey, I just can't quit you. And the evening you gave us at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre is one of many reasons why.