Friday, September 16, 2011

A Trip to Cork, Part 1b: Morrissey

And then Morrissey himself. He was looking well; I mean, obviously, he has filled out a bit, but he has developed an appealingly stocky look, vaguely reminiscent of some aging yet classy gangster. The rest of the band were decked out in t-shirts with pictures of James Dean and the text "James" followed by their surname.

Songs from across the great man's solo career were played. The likes of 'He teh frist of teh gang to die', 'Speedway' and 'Ouija Board, Ouija Board' all went down very well. He also played several songs by the Smiths. I suppose at one level he is as entitled to play them as anyone else, and it's not like Johnny Marr is doing anything with them. But I really wish he would leave them alone. It is not that his band cannot do them justice – the version of 'Meat Is Murder' that closed off the main set was storming – but playing Smiths tunes suggests a certain lack of confidence in his solo material. From across the long years since his old band broke up, Morrissey has any number of complete classics to play with. Even if it would have to be accepted that the Smiths songs are better than his solo ones (as part of the general rule that the music of the Smiths is better than all other music) it is a bit defeatist to be favouring them over his own tracks. It seems particularly unfortunate that he is no longer saving the divine 'Speedway' as an encore track.

Still, it was interesting that he played 'Meat Is Murder'. Vegetarianism has long been close to Morrissey's heart, but I think this Smiths classic is his only tune that deals with it as a subject. From media reporting of his public comments, it seems like he has become more hard-line in his views on the subject. As most people do not really care about the suffering of animals, rhetorical attempts by Morrissey to equate animal and human suffering have met with considerable hostility, even from people who are admirers of his music. I was struck by how one line of 'Meat Is Murder' was changed to "Do you care how animals die?". I suspect that from most people present the answer would have been "No".

That makes it sound like maybe this concert was somewhat combative, vegetarian Morrissey clashing with a meat-scoffing crowd of Corkonians. But no, it was all good fun, with Morrissey on flying form as he interacted with the crowd and putting some great comedy inflections into the lyrics of the songs. I particularly enjoyed watching him shaking hands with people in the front row and then recoiling with an aghast air as though a hand-shaker had been a bit over familiar.

And he played one cover version that I remember, Lou Reed's wonderful 'Satellite of Love'. The audience were not that excited by this, but I was thrilled. He changed the line 'I love to watch things on TV' to 'I hate to watch things on TV', which was nice.

Mmmm, maybe as I get older I am becoming more and more Morrissey-like in my views.

Late Night, Panda Street

An inuit panda production

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