Morrissey – Heineken Music Hall 10/04/06

"20 years ago was the last time I came face to shoe-leather with Morrissey. Still a relative slip of a lad (both of us) and right at the peak of his popularity (just him) at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. "



"20 years ago was the last time I came face to shoe-leather with Morrissey. Still a relative slip of a lad (both of us) and right at the peak of his popularity (just him) at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. "



Morrissey 10/04/06 – HMH


20 Years is a long time in Rock ‘n’ Roll – 20 years is a long time in plumbing, investment banking and pro-celebrity golf for that matter, but few can last the course in the wacky world of Pop music.


20 years ago was the last time I came face to shoe-leather with Morrissey. Still a relative slip of a lad (both of us) and right at the peak of his popularity (just him) at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Swathes of seats were flattened in the frenzy created by one of the best bands ever.


23 years ago I was a snotty punk; not a very good one, I was too late and too young. I was only interested in dumb, exciting records that were fast tuneless and loud. And Showaddywaddy. The sort of stuff I could play myself on my super 30 quid bass.


22 and a half years ago I heard Handsome Devil on Peel and the world didn’t change – but The Smiths were noticeably better than Showaddywaddy. Never had I heard such a miserable toad. Whinging on about love-never-had. Banging on about temptation and disappointment and doubt. A man who spoke my language but with biting wit and caustic cynicism.


Anyhoo, the new century is but a bairn, Mozza’s in town and the other Smiths are, tonight at least, just names in the phone book. From what I’ve heard over the years he’s been plodding along constantly creating lyrics of enormous quality with a musical backing that has, for my money, all too frequently failed to inspire, but an opportunity to once again see my former Adolescence teacher was not one I was going to forego.


There were an alarming amount of people trying to sell their tickets outside the sold-out Bijlmer Bierhal. Cheaper than my bloody ticket too. Undeterred, we set about the usual rituals – coat, tokens and beer (in the alluringly named Postbank Lounge – a fantastic marketing ploy – so creative, I wouldn’t drink anywhere else). Then finally off to catch the last 15 minutes of The Boyfriends, as it happens I’d rather have caught the last 15 minutes of the plague.


Alright that’s an exaggeration but they were by no means impressive. Being a support band can be a dirty job, but if you’ve got the chance you’ve got to take it, and the 15 minutes of their fame that I saw, wasn’t up to much.


So it was all left to the man himself to provide the entertainment. We edged our way towards the front until about 15 metres out and then the way was blocked. The moment they ripped into the glorious First Of The Gang To Die a chasm opened up before me and I surged forward to be enveloped by the Morrissey Male Voice Choir that had assembled within spitting distance of their choirmaster and, mummified in that vice-like throng, I spent the next 75 minutes.


Much of Mozza’s back catalogue is a mystery to me but the opening chukkas of Still Ill are permanently etched on my soul. The years rolled back and I was back in my black daubed bedroom spiking my hair-up with soap preparing for a thrill packed evening in Lipton’s doorway on the precinct trying to scrounge fags and get older kids to buy me beer. Those were the days………


I danced with as much joyous abandon as my 8 square inches of floor space would allow and sung my heart out, Morrissey was barely audible above our massed football terrace voices if I’m honest, but truly an exhilarating experience and an absolutely cracking track.


The band is reassuringly tight – a couple of tracks I’m not familiar with including the recently released You Have Killed Me from new album Ringleader of the Tormentors prove that he just doesn’t know how to write a bad song. And my new friends from the MMVC knew every word.


Reader Meets Author causes another ruckus at the front and I just pogo with the flow grinning. I’ve become accustomed to the feel of another mans stubble on my shoulder and wonder if that’s entirely appropriate. Let Me Kiss You from You Are The Quarry is a fantastic poem but musically not one of the strongest songs he’s ever come up with. The next real highlight for me is Girlfriend in a Coma, typical Smiths, typical Morrissey – absolute class whichever way you look at it.


I’m impressed with what I’m hearing from the new album particularly Life is a Pigsty which is so powerful when he spits it out – I’d be interested to hear if that comes across on the record. One more Smiths number, How Soon Is Now, followed by the modern classic Irish Blood, English Heart are both unforgettable and I’m totally in awe of this man who is one of the originators of this sort of English Blues – not in the 12 bar sense of the word but in a middle class, well read, desperately English way that has inspired just about every decent band of the last 2 decades.


He throws in a cover of Magazine’s A Song From Under the Floorboards which perhaps shows where he gets some of his well aligned and much maligned misery from. Then finishes off with At Last I am Born another strong singalong track for the MMVC.


Only one, single-song encore unfortunately. A bit on the stingy side – Dutch crowds are not exactly renowned for their over exuberance but in the contagious disease bring-and-buy sale, free for all at the front everyone was in an almost biblical frenzy and we would have gladly shouted and grinned and danced all night, given half the chance. Mozza and his merry men however had different ideas and at 10:20 it was game over.


Morrissey isn’t The Smiths, and never was, and I never expected that a solo Morrissey would depose my ancient memories from their lofty pedestal, but even 20 years on there is no escaping his charisma and quality and his ability to provoke thought and polarise opinion. You either love him or you hate him, much like Showaddywaddy, and they are both very dear to my heart.




Words: MONO