True to form, Morrissey’s prima donna behavior has generated a lot of press in the past few years. Moz refused to play shows in Canada because of the country’s “barbaric” annual seal hunt, turned down $75 million to reunite with former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and abruptly canceled several spring and summer shows due to throat trouble.
Which left much of the Thanksgiving Point audience wondering, “Will the Mozzer’s voice hold up?” And, of course “Will Mr. Meat is Murder boycott a venue equipped with antler chandeliers?”
Kristeen Young—Moz’s opening act—was painfully lackluster. Young’s operatic voice did not compensate for her anemic songs, which were mercilessly pounded out on a bargain basement keyboard. There are few things more disappointing than watching a musician with a truly remarkable voice reminiscent of Kate Bush completely lack cohesive form and originality.
Halfway through Young’s set, an audience member near me muttered, “This music is making me crazy!” Enough said.
Luckily, Morrissey was in top form. Following a video montage featuring James Dean, The New York Dolls, and a singing Brigette Bardot (among others), and a dramatic moment of darkness, accompanied by a steady stream of words that could have come from the mouth of any Debbie Downer (such as “cancer, hunger, Jesse Helms”), Moz burst on stage with his tight, young backup band launching into The Smiths’ classic “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before.”
Opening with “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before!” Oh, Morrissey! You’re so ironic!
The rest of Moz’s formidable set included past and present solo favorites (“Jack the Ripper,” “Loop,” “The World is Full of Crashing Bores,” and “Tomorrow”) plus a few truly inspired renditions of beloved Smiths songs including “Death of a Disco Dancer” “Shoplifters of the World Unite,” and the guaranteed crowd pleaser “How Soon is Now?”
In response to the lyric “is it even worthwhile to have children?” one audience member screamed “NOOOOOOOOO!” which prompted Moz to crack a sly smile.
Thankfully, Moz’s recent throat trouble has not permanently marred his glorious pipes. He’s still got the signature croon. And strut. And microphone cord whip.
Despite the wrinkles and thinning hair, one would never know Moz is pushing 50. He traversed the entire stage multiple times—grabbing the hands of swooning audience members and even making eye contact with a lucky few.
Think what you will about his melodramatic lyrics, or his brooding voice, but Moz is a musical icon for a reason. There are few things more intoxicating than watching a seasoned performer with authentic stage presence charm a crowd.
Most entertaining of all was Morrissey’s stage banter. Moz referred to George W. Bush as “the midget,” and handed off the microphone to various audience members. He asked a young woman in the front row how old she was. When she said 26, Moz replied, “Oh, that’s a very serious age. It’s all downhill from here.”
The Pope of Mope even took off his shirt and cast it into the audience … twice! A down and dirty brawl ensued for shirt number two. Things got pretty ugly. But no one was harmed. The only collateral damage was a few flattened pompadours.
What a show! Thankfully those barbaric antler light fixtures didn’t prevent Moz from taking the stage.