24 Mar 2018

[GIG REVIEW] Morrissey @ Alexandra Palace, London, 9 March 2018

Morrissey at London's Alexandra Palace    © Alberto Pezzali/Live4ever Media
The iconic Morrissey lyric The More You Ignore Me The Closer I Get taken from the acclaimed album Vauxhall and I does come with a self fulfilling prophetic dimension attached, even if it remains to be a vague one. He will keep popping up when we least expect it. 

Not that many successful attempts at ignoring Morrissey are known but in any case, they would only result in his continued recurrence and he will keep popping up here and there, when we least expect it.

The last time I saw Morrissey play live was in June 2011, at Queens Hall Dunoon, in Scotland. Although it was a good show, it did not strike me as being as memorable as it probably could nor should have been.

He then went on to receive treatment for cancer, part of the medical advice given at the time was to avoid performing live but he more or less ignored that. In his case, continuing to make music and performing live both seem to have been the right call. It is in his blood, it keeps him going and he was always set to continue.

Having previously made lyrical declarations such as Trouble Loves MeMorrissey has a passion for demonstrating his playful nature and there has been some controversy surrounding him and his persona. No, there has always been a lot of controversy around the two; in all the time he has been in the public eye. Perhaps annoyingly, entire populations seem to neglect and continue to point out about how he suddenly became controversial, in his older days. This is inaccurate and could be interpreted as a reflection on how controversy, of any kind, appears to be completely lacking in music today. 

Hand over heart, tonight’s show is a complex affair. As much as it displays the love for Morrissey, the artistic quality of his work, it also touches upon the controversy that surrounds his persona and  his past, the two will always be there, in dramatic opposition. 

Commencing the show with an Elvis Presley cover of You’ll Be Gone does well at sharing his musical fixations and works as an intro before maneuvering into I Started Something I couldn’t Finish, the old Strangeways Here We Come classic delivered as a strong, heavily guitar pedaled version, adding new vibrancy to the song. Never one for missing out on an opportunity to bring in the acute, obligatory Morrissey ingredient of wit, he changes the lyric to ‘I grabbed you by the Heinz Baked Beans.’

Just before Glamourous Glue he decides to demonstrate his distance to social media by stating ‘I have never had a Twitter account and I have never tweeted’. An official Morrissey Twitter account does of course exist but that seems almost irrelevant to even mention. He is not someone we expect to see sitting around tweeting all day plus the very thought of having Morrissey engaging in such mainstream activity just does not seem right. Who Will Protect Us From The Police? is next on tonight’s running order.   

Energy levels could and probably should be higher, but the musical quality of Morrissey's performance makes up for it. His voice sounds better than ever, it has a powerful round tone to it and he has come a long way with proper breathing techniques. His ability to express emotion and thought is superior to just about anything else out there making tonight extra special. Come to think of it, there probably is not much more you would want or actually need from a Morrissey show.

Going on to cover Back On The Chain Gang by The Pretenders works exceptionally well and does give the song a new spark. Spent The Day In Bed invigorates the crowds and they sing along before chanting his name three times. Now, that is more closely aligned to how I had imagined a Morrissey show a la 2018.

The singer announces ‘it would be good to bring back a good and honest debate’, this works effectively and gets audiences in the moods for World Piece is None Of Your Business and the Viva Hate track Everyday Is Like Sunday, during, which Morrissey gives us a taster of his acquired Spanish language skills, shouting out the word Quando? in quick succession. That happens shortly before he completes his set with Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On Stage.

Reappearing on stage for an encore, he addresses his devotees ‘Don’t think I don’t appreciate it because I do’ and so there is enough time for Irish Blood English Heart.

Morrissey continues to have a lot to offer via his music, the lyrics and singing are unmatched and he remains to be thee man of substance. Whether he is being sincere or he is playing with us all, I for one, continue to view his political statements as numerous attempts to wind us all up big time.

He demands a reaction, he ought to get one and it should replace any anger and upset. Most of the time, his game plan works effectively and this will only encourage him to continue down that same playful route.

Admittedly though, I would not want him to change one bit, he is unique and not everyone out there is. There is not enough true individuality in rock'n'roll.