Countless love affairs have been born in the low, sultry echoes of Morrissey’s croon. The ex-Smiths frontman and his poetic tales of despair have inspired everything from cartoons to off-Broadway plays, and even the relationship between Tom Hansen and Summer Finn in 500 Days of Summer. Above all though, Morrissey’s music has brought to the world an unbreakable sense of camaraderie and intimacy in a group of outcasts, loners and hopeless romantics often shunned by the mainstream.
The British heartthrob’s longstanding importance and legacy was clear this past weekend as a crowd of more than 2,500 shuffled into Boston’s Opera Houseon Saturday, June 7 to catch a glimpse of the mope-rock king. Even today–nearly three decades since he first took the indie-rock scene by storm–Morrissey was still greeted with the same level of commitment, hysteria and adoration that he received during his early musician days.
Often considered one of the most cinematic (and not without mention,controversial) concerts, the evening started off surprisingly low-key. With no opening act scheduled to replace singer-songwriter Kristeen Young, who had, just days earlier, announced her departure from Morrissey’s tour, audience members were left to stare at an empty stage for nearly 90 minutes.
Finally, however, the magical hour of 9 p.m. struck. The lights in the theater went out and the curtains peeled away to reveal a photoshopped backdrop of Queen Elizabeth giving the middle finger—igniting a booming applause, which, like the night’s star, never wavered.
Morrissey came bustling out to the title-track of his former (and to the dismay of many, never-to-be-again) band’s most iconic album,The Queen is Dead. Oozing with self-confidence, Morrissey enraptured fans as he whipped up dust with his microphone cord, pranced across the stage in manic outbursts, only to dramatically collapse in the spotlight to belt out: “Oh, has the world changed, or have I changed?”
Pausing just long enough for guitar changes, Morrissey and his political rock crusaders charged full-speed ahead through the set list, constantly switching between songs everybody likes (“Trouble Loves Me”), to hidden gems that hardly anybody ever notices (“Certain People I Know”). Occasionally, the brooding singer would take a break from his heaving melancholy and swooping ballads to introduce a few sharp selections from his forthcoming LPWorld Peace Is None of Your Business, the title track of which features the bold lines: “Police will stun you with their stun guns/ Or they’ll disable you with tasers/ That’s what government’s for”.
Also striking a political note was the doom-laded “Meat is Murder.” Accompanied by provocative and grisly footage of slaughterhouses, Morrissey and his band plunged through churning guitar solos and pounding drums for a dark, nightmarish scene that fully captures the iconic nature and spirit of Morrissey and his emotionally-charged gigs.
The most mesmerizing sequence of the night, however, came in the form of a double-shot encore, where the soulful crooner took to the tinkling piano of the Smiths’ classic “Asleep,” only to crank the noise back up for the rowdy “First of the Gang to Die,” where fans, as part of tradition began to scale the stage, in attempt to get a hug from their beloved, acid-tongued champion.
Oh, Morrissey, old friend, may your light never go out.
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