For Morrissey, the last six months have been mired in turmoil over a pin that he's worn, attaching him to certain political groups and leanings. I've gone back and forth with his politics, and, while I don't agree with all of his beliefs, I decided to see him play live at Ravinia.
He was in good spirits, to say the least. Bantering back and forth with the audience, all night. Diving deep into self-loathing, that erred on the comical side, even broaching the subject that has caused such controversy on the show opener, "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side," from Glamorous Glue. See below where he changes the lyrics during a performance in Forest Hills on September 7th.
Where he usually sings, "Someone kindly told me that you've wasted/Eight of your nine lives," he now sings, "Someone kindly told me that you're so tired/Of the left and the right." Yes, subtle and simple. But I'm glad he addressed the elephant in the room right away, so we could all move on and enjoy our night.
With that out of the way, Moz blasted right into one of his greatest solo songs to date, "Suedehead." His voice sounded great and his mood sincere. "I'm so sorry..." Was this an apology for his recent actions? I wouldn't go that far, but it was a beautiful rendition.
From there on out the setlist was pretty flawless. "Alma Matters" completely rocks with this band, which is truly his best to date. The players are in synch with Morrissey, especially on songs like "The Bullfighter Dies" where we get these big, beautiful horns, and keyboards, courtesy of Gustavo Manzur. He's blessed, and he knows it, seeming very comfortable to be out in front of this crew. He has found a group of people who lend him undying support and talent.
"Hairdresser On Fire," was nostalgia at its finest. Changing the lyrics again he sang, "Where is London?/So much for London, " and "Can you tease me into a page of your diary?" Jesse Tobias crushes this, now famous guitar solo that we've all grown up with, and have memorized note for note. He doesn't veer too far but adds just enough panache and flair to sell it for profit. Again, I must allude to the glut of gorgeous instrumental work.
One of the surprises of the night was "I Wish You Lonely," from Low in High School. A powerful, yet dark (images of Margaret Thatcher about to be beheaded were playing in the background) song that I wasn't quite a fan of until now. Speaking of dark, I think the highlight of the night was "Jack The Ripper." As a kid, my friends and I would sing this song to each other, acting out our best Morrissey as he did on this night. It still sounds romantic and scary.
"Satan Rejected My Soul," sounded great and kept the mood light, while "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" darkened it, for about six or seven minutes. He's a man of many ups and downs, that's for sure. Other classics included "Every Day Is Like Sunday," "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris," and the telling, "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself."
"Some men here/They know the full extent of your distress
They kneel and pray, and they say/Long may it lastWhy don't you find out for yourself?"
"Morning Starship," was my favorite song of the night. I really love what the Mozzer did with this cover song. Like "My insatiable One" before, he has made it all his own. It's a sexy jaunt, that touches upon riding in your lover's starship. I like that it's not graphic, but mysterious and sensual. Above all, it's a beautiful love song, that you can thank Morrissey for bringing to light.
"Wedding Bell Blues," and "Back On The Chain Gang," both were impressive covers. I was bummed that he didn't get into the rest of California Son. If you haven't heard this record of cover songs, I implore you to give it some time. It really is a great record and shows you just how talented Moz is when it comes to picking covers and really taking the time to make them work for him.
I could not finish this blog without mentioning The Smiths classic "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." Yes, it was so nice to finally hear this song live. I have been singing it to myself for 30 years now, so this was definitely a defining moment.
I loved this show. The band, the vocals, the images, the lights, and the setlist, and I wished it went on longer. Some friends that were in attendance said they were extremely happy that he lasted longer than 45 minutes. I guess that's one way of looking at it.
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