“MORRISSEY plays Plymouth Pavilions. Those are four words few Morrissey fans thought they would ever see in the same sentence. But on Thursday night the celebrated celibate did indeed grace us with his presence as part of – as was pointed out in at least one national paper – his tour of ‘typically unfashionable’ towns in support of his Best Of album.
Okay, unfashionable we may be, but we know how to welcome our heroes and the warmth of the welcome Stephen Patrick Morrissey received was second to none. But then, when it comes to connecting with his fans, few seem to manage to do it quite so well, not in the physical sense, but emotionally.
I confess to being a bit of an outsider here, but we met a young lady in her 20s at the gig, who had flown home from Canada especially for the show, having been first introduced to him by her RE teacher who had, rather controversially, written ‘Morrissey is God’ above his picture in the classroom. And my companion for the night, a chap in his forties, reckons to have seen him no fewer than 100 times, across various continents. I’m also informed that ticket holders for the sell-out show had queued from early that morning just to get a front row position in the hope of shaking Mozza’s hand: he did actually oblige on several occasions.
It was after a rather dodgy video montage of some of his influences – Sparks, New York Dolls and Diana Dors to name but three – that Mozza sauntered on stage to flashing red lights and an extended drum solo. Looking casually dishevelled in a soft pink shirt, he was cleverly back lit with a spotlight which gave him a rather appropriate ‘god-like’ glow.
Pausing only to say ‘thank-you’ plus the occasional minimalist sentence, he proceeded to take us on a whistle stop journey though a greatest hits set of Smiths tunes and solo songs, opening with I Want The One I Can’t Have, and following up with You’re The One For Me Fatty, aided by his muscular-sounding five-piece band.
By track five, I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris, he was getting quite touchy feely with the crowd and you could practically feel the love, then after the harpsichord-fuelled Ouija Board, Ouija Board, came a real belter and the crowd were off on an epic mosh to the irresistible Irish Blood English Heart.
Most people would have been aware of the impending shock video to accompany Meat Is Murder – we were actually invited to ‘Meet Your Meat’ at one point – but even so the graphic footage together with hard-hitting lyrics, plus drum and guitar meltdown – proved very disturbing and would undoubtedly have won a few more converts to the veggie cause.
Speedway was aborted after a hiccough at the start, and the only cover, Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love, provided welcome light relief from the doom and gloom before another chance to rock-out and sing along to the ‘cheerful’ First Of The Gang To Die, then a final hurrah as This Charming Man closed the show.
All very impressive, but what did the experts think? “One of the best,” said the man of experience. That’s certainly good enough for me.”