Morrissey - O2 Arena, London, 29 November 2014: Kitty's Post-Show Ruminations

The last time I saw Morrissey live was on the 2011 tour (Hop Farm Festival & Brixton) as my finances have not allowed me to indulge my passion quite as fanatically as I would have liked to during 2012 and 2013, so I was greatly looking forward to this gig.

Recently my life has involved mainly working 12-hour night shifts in a contact centre providing Out of Hours Customer Service for two London councils. I mention this, not because it is greatly interesting, but because it has left me somewhat more tired of late than I would like to be, so any time I get at home is spent sleeping. What this meant in terms of Morrissey was that, unlike in previous years when I would have been at the venue a good few hours before the doors opened in order to meet up with my fellow Mozzites (my Moz family), then get in early, see the support and ensure myself a good place right at the front, I didn't actually get there till gone 6.30pm and, by the time I'd caught up with various people and collected my fast-track entry band for Quarry, I'd missed Anna Calvi's set, which is a shame, as I like her and would have enjoyed seeing her.

Anyway, at about 8.30pm, I made my way into the arena. Horrible venue for an artist like Morrissey as its just too big and soulless, but its also a great two fingers to everyone who thinks he has no fans as the entire place was full. So glad I was in the standing area though; the O2 is a good venue if the artist is a full on stage performer - by that I mean, they create a stage show full of set changes, dancers and all that artifice - Morrissey is a wonderful performer, but he is an intimate performer. He doesn't fake the performance to create an impression, he just gives himself to the audience and if you're not close enough to feel it, you'll not enjoy it in quite the same way. Of course, others who were seated miles away at the back did have the ability to watch every frown and bead of sweat in glorious magnitude on the large screens and I suppose they still would have got an emotional experience from it, provided they were wide to receive.

Anyhoo... I managed to get myself down to the front right hand side (as you look at the stage, though it would be stage left to Morrissey). This is generally the spot I always go for, then spend part of the gig wishing I'd gone on the other side as I do like to see Boz too! As I'd left it late to go in, I couldn't get as close to the front as I'd wanted, but I accepted it and was pretty happy with my place, which is also my general view on life. Sadly, quite a few others were not so accepting and, despite not bothering to get their arses in to the venue at the right time to be in prime positions, then started shoving their way through to the front/centre.

This is something that really pisses me off. If you want to be at the front, get there early. Your attitude sucks and is totally disrespectful to those people that actually have made the effort. And don't come out with that tired old line, "my mate is just over there". We all know that's BS when there's a group of five of you pushing through. Anyway, instead of venting at the time, I kept quiet, but there were a few scuffles around me. Crazy lady with a white cat hat caused rather a nasty moment. Her companions made mention of her being ill, which, based on her behaviour, I took to mean she had mental health issues. Again, I stand by my earlier comments. I too have a long history of mental health issues (depression, OCPD {its like OCD, only better because it doesn't make you feel anxious, you just feel superior because the way you do things is clearly the best way... even if it really isn't}, emotionally unstable personality disorder, and dermatillomania {also known as excoriation disorder}), but if I ever use this as an excuse to barge my way through to the front of the crowd at a gig, you have my full permission to punch me.

Aside from the ignorant pushers-in, most people around me were fairly normal.

There was a good mixture of younger and older people and it seemed as though quite a lot of those around me were seeing Moz for the first time. I wonder what they made of the traditional pre-show footage! Most people enjoy the pop-rock of New York Dolls, but some of the other material seems to be a bit too niche for some. But that bit of the show is, for me, one of the most important parts - this is where Morrissey is sharing something truly personal with us, the stuff HE likes and, 90% of the time its stuff I like too! Always a pleasure to see ‘the world’s most marvellous woman’, Dame Edith Sitwell and I hope people will take the time to explore her body of work. It was also lovely to hear Nico's "I'm Not Sayin'", which I'd forgotten how much I like.

A few people seemed familiar with the opening videos, but for those attending their first Morrissey experience, it seemed there was a combination of bemused faces, rabbits caught in headlights and/or silent wonder. Perhaps this explained their lack of movement throughout the gig. Although there were some classics (opening with "The Queen is Dead" accompanied by a slightly petulant montage of Brenda, Kate & Wills, followed by "Suedehead") the majority of the gig was focused on songs from "World Peace is None of Your Business" and its quite funny to note that a lot of new fans still tend to start out on the early material. Whilst I'm happy to admit the album didn't immediately grab me in the showers, it has grown on me and there are some great riffs and beats on there which are very well suited to dancing to. However, as I'm in the mould of Tim Booth when it comes to expressing myself to music (watch videos of him dancing - that's exactly how I dance), I should maybe be a bit more forgiving of those that don't flail their limbs as soon as they feel the beat.

Morrissey himself seemed somewhat restrained too. Gone was the flailing man-child, rolling on the floor in perfectly timed moments, or flicking the microphone cable like some sort of S&M Maestro, whipping his audience into submission. Instead, he appeared older, and angrier. Perhaps he had to keep himself restrained to avoid exploding, or perhaps he was just tired. If he was, it certainly didn't come across in his voice, which was strong and powerful, like a stallion made of velvet and silk, charging through forests in night-time. This solid figure, controlling the stage, seemed very much like a returning monarch, once ousted but now welcomed home from self-imposed exile.

There was less chat than usual, but we were treated to a typical Moz-moment when he told us that he'd watched a film as a child which was set in Wapping and he'd wanted to live there. After a brief pause he ended this anecdote with his usual deadpan disdain, "I don't want to live there now."

I'd avoided looking at the set list from previous shows on this tour, so I was able to enjoy not knowing what was coming up. This was definitely a wise move; perhaps if I'd known it would be so new song heavy, I'd have (wrongly) assumed it wouldn't be as enjoyable, but I found myself really appreciating the songs from "World Peace..." as they worked so well played live. Gustavo Manzur is a welcome addition to the band who played to their usual high standard, whilst Morrissey, though less mobile physically, delivered a vocal performance that seemed effortlessly magnificent.

However, this isn't just blind adoration. Lyrically, "World Peace..." might not be as strong as "You Are The Quarry", but there is still a good deal of enjoyment to be found in the songs. From crowd pleaser "Istanbul" to the reassuring melancholy of "Earth Is The Loneliest Planet Of All", to the wilful abandon of "Scandinavia" and the sublimely infectious joy of "Kiss Me A Lot", there is a worthy mixture on the album to suit all Moz tastes.

And yes, he's still driving home his views on meat and the welfare of animals, but why shouldn't he? If you believe in something passionately, you don't stop talking about it, even if it annoys other people; I'm pretty fervent myself when it comes to discussing my faith in God, my obsession with cult TV and my love of Morrissey - sometimes all at the same time! Whilst I might flinch at footage of Bullfighters getting injured, I understand Morrissey's joy at the bull gaining the upper hand on occasion and there was definitely a justified twinkle in his eye when he mentioned the recent news about chickens; "I was very interested to read about how 75% of chicken sold as food in the UK is contaminated, therefore poisonous and I thought to myself… Ha, ha, ha.” This rather jolly moment was followed by a powerful performance of "Meat is Murder", backed by video footage reminding us exactly how our meat makes its way from farm to plate.

While "I'm Not A Man" may tread familiar territory, it sounds beautiful live and is a worthy bedfellow to the majesty of "Trouble Loves Me".

As the evening progressed, I found myself forgiving his "tracksuit" ensemble (ok, it is clearly custom made - see the labels which declare 'Animals don't smoke' - but he still looks sooooo much better in a decent pair of jeans and a nice shirt) and the two-fingers vulgarity of the band's t-shirts (yes, I understand, but still, you could try to be the better man... oh, ok, I know, I know, that's not really an option when you make a point of bearing "more grudges than lonely high court judges") and falling in love with the notion of the man all over again.

This was an immense performance vocally and showed what a superior performer Morrissey is compared to so many modern acts. Of course, you wouldn't know that from most of the reviews, which have gone for their usual angle of "he hasn't produced anything decent since Viva Hate", but even they have had to acknowledge that it really doesn't matter what they think, because the fans are still there. Thankfully, at least one reviewer seemed to be at the same gig as me and there are a few nice images accompanying the piece too - thanks to Burak Cingi.

The set list moved between slow burners and big hitters, with "Speedway" bringing the main set to a crashing close with bits of the drum kit flying outwards towards the front rows!

Moz delivered another powerful performance on "Asleep". Almost nonchalant, he stood, in silhouette, hands in pockets, and sang the song that means so much to so many. Was he really saying goodbye to us? We held our breath in silent pain and I felt the beauty of desolation all around.

Thanking his audience early on, Morrissey said "I am privileged beyond my wildest dreams". By the end of the evening, I suspect a great many of us felt exactly the same.


Dido's Lament

... darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.

When I am laid, am laid in earth, May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.


There are no comments to display.

Blog entry information

Last update

More entries in General

  • Nature Boy(S)
    There was a boy A very strange enchanted boy They say he wandered very...
  • Mount Joy
    Got several weeks of camping done this summer. My daughter and I were...

Share this entry

Top Bottom