Morrissey – Manchester Arena – 28th July 2012

Posted on July 29, 2012
7

written by Robert Pollard
‘When Morrissey’s playing you fucking know about it’. Never has Noel Gallagher, one half of Manchester’s most overrated band, made so much sense. Last night was the latest proof that Noel was onto something when, during an interview for the documentary The Importance of Being Morrissey, he attempted to articulate the fervour created by the greatest artist of them all jetting in to play live. The anticipation for this gig at the Manchester Arena was tangible.
I’ve seen Morrissey countless times and this gig was right up there with the best. From pop classics such asYou’re the One for Me Fatty to a painstaking version of Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, it showcased everything that makes Morrissey the best. There were scenes of absolute pandemonium at the front of the stalls, proving that Morrissey’s hardcore following remains as dedicated as ever.
As soon as he entered the stage in his usual grand fashion and began an a cappella version of Patti Smith’sHorses I knew we were in for a treat. Morrissey singing my favourite non-Morrissey song a few yards from my face – ‘fucking yes’ I thought.
You Have Killed Me and Everyday is Like Sunday set the tone before all hell broke loose for Fatty. It was bedlam, making complaints about lack of atmosphere (more on that later) seem like blatant anti-Morrissey propaganda from sad bores who pine for the 2002 tour. The highlight, though, was I Know It’s Over. It’s still the best piece of songwriting I have come across and it was a pleasure to hear live. A crowd that had jumped around furiously earlier in the set stood transfixed by the lyrical genius of this truly great piece of art. It’s a song that, for me, defines Morrissey’s approach; poetic, sensitive and dramatic.
The band were clad in ‘We Hate William and Kate’ t-shirts as Morrissey proudly announced: “You’ll notice I wasn’t invited to the Olympics opening ceremony because my smile was judged to be too sincere.” Pouring scorn on the inner workings of the establishment is still one of Morrissey’s great strengths and marks him out from the ever-burgeoning set of musicians who toe the party line in return for an easy ride from the press and the music industry. It’s sad but Morrissey is pretty much alone in the music world as someone actually articulating an opinion. As he repeatedly argues, he isn’t that controversial, but in amongst the tidal wave of crashing bores, he appears outrageously outspokenl.
What struck me most last night was the way Morrissey sung the really big lines. ‘It’s so easy to laugh, it’s so easy to hate’, ‘if the USA doesn’t bomb you’ and ‘You won’t sleep until the earth that wants me finally has me’, were all sung with such gusto it took me aback. No matter how many times he sings those words, it seems they resonate with him as much as they do me. Far from turning up and painting by numbers as his career enters its twilight, Morrissey has the same passion as the guy who sang in The Smiths.
Morrissey’s fondness for risk taking will never subside, and this was evidenced by his decision to makeMeat is Murder his set centre piece, with video footage of factory farms and abattoirs playing on the big screen behind for the duration of the extended version. It was full-on gruesome images exposing the mistreatment of animals in an undiluted way. Heavy stuff and not to the liking of some meat eaters in attendance. I heard people complaining it was too much as they left to have a McDonalds. My message to them is simple: what was shown on that video is real. You can hide from it and pretend it isn’t happening all you like but that helps no one. Morrissey, as an artist, is in a position to make statements and he never shirks the opportunity to further the cause of animals. I respect him massively for it. If you want sugar-coated pop, go and see Justin Beiber. Morrissey has opinions and he wants to share them through his art. The fact that they were ‘too much’ for some suggests they are not altogether sure that their meat-eating lifestyle is morally sound.
Perusing Morrissey Solo (which, of course, we all do less and less these days because of the bile and vitriol poured all over the forums there) one would think this gig was crap. Complaints about set lists and lack of atmosphere were posted with alarming regularity. Set list moaning is rife in Morrissey circles. A large number of fans seem to think that they have a divine right to hear the exact list of songs they desire on any given night. It’s ridiculous. A man with a career that straddles four decades and has accumulated an arsenal of songs that are so important to so many people is simply not in a position to please everyone. The whining about set lists annoys me far more than the omission of a song I may have fancied hearing.
The atmosphere gripe is an odd one for me, particularly after last night. At times it was absolute anarchy, as people felt every line and jostled for a position as close as possible to the man himself. Young girls were rescued from being trampled on after losing their footing during the mayhem. I’m not sure I could have taken any more ‘atmosphere’. Either those people want to see the death of a Morrissey fan, or they were simply stood at the back not getting involved when they clearly wanted to. Whichever it was it was daft and it led to inaccurate reports depicting a gig with motionless people not reacting to what was happening on stage. Utter rubbish.
The dissenters can try to derail Morrissey and detract from what was a wonderful gig all they like but most fans will remain steadfast because, in his own strange way, he’s always stayed true to us.