Summary: This disk is a tasty appetizer to tide you over until you can dive into the actual experience that is a Morrissey live show.
By now, anyone who has their finger on the pulse of music knows that Morrissey deftly resurrected himself last year with the release of the brilliant You are the Quarry. After seven years devoid of Moz that was preceded by two tasteless albums, the king of Manchester stormed back onto the scene taking a giant eraser to the past 10 years. Perhaps the only thing more exciting than breathing in this salient work was discovering that he would be embarking on his first extensive U.S. tour since the mid 90s, headlining Lollapalooza.
The leaking elation was short lived as we discovered weeks later that Lollapalooza had folded on the back of weak ticket sales. It would be a month before Morrissey would roll out a tour schedule to sop up our disappointment. That Atlanta evening in October, when he made the Tabernacle his home, would rank as one of the best shows I have ever experienced, and I have hundreds to draw from.
Usually, I’m not a big fan of live discs. It’s one thing if it was a show that you attended. Then you can effectively plug in each of your memories from that night into each feverish track. Otherwise, it’s a live show minus the live show. You don’t have that feeling of your nerves dangling as the performer stands a mere 40 feet away. Watching them cycle through their facial expressions, surveying their body gestures, spying as they feed off the sweaty energy pulsing from the crowd, allowing them to elevate the music to another level.
Then you have the crowd, which is a spectacle in and of itself. I’d say half were homosexual and the rest were perched just to the left of normal. The fine art of people watching was definitely in full swing.
This set was drawn from a variety of sold out dates that closed out his 2004 tour in the UK (London, Glasgow, Birmingham, Brighton and Dublin). It is really a strong collection of songs. It favors You Are the Quarry of course, but it also gives us several classic Smiths’ barn burners within (“How Soon as Now?”, “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, “There is a Light that Never Goes Out”) as well as a healthy sample of B-sides and unreleased tracks from the Quarry era. The B-sides are certainly an interesting spectacle, but largely prove to be the weak links.
“Redondo Beach” should have been left buried in the sand. “Friday Mourning” is oatmeal on the counter you’ve forgotten about. All is not lost though as we look at “Subway Train/Munich Air Disaster” which is a classic Morrissey anthem that certainly should have made the cut for Quarry over the puzzlingly weak “All of the Lazy Dykes”.
While it’s cool to see him not shying away from performing the Smiths’ numbers, his best moments arise from his newest pieces. “I Have Forgiven Jesus” really writhes under his skin as he punches out the words, “Why did you stick me in self-deprecating bones and skin/Jesus, do you hate me?”
In this interesting lyrically cross current, he really shines and I’m sure he had more than a few Christians madly grasping for their Morrissey voodoo dolls on this one. He exploits the live element like an expert craftsman taking a handful of good songs (“Let Me Kiss You” and “I Like You”) and unveils personalities to these works we never knew existed. He redefines their essence with a passion and a juice that slick studio production can’t ever capture. Morrissey is off his leash, tapping into the wretched heartbreak that plagued his youth to perfectly blend with the wisdom that the turn of years has offered him.
As far as live shows go, this capture is about as good as it gets. At the end of the day, it’s still a pale carbon copy of the real thing. The music is only 20 percent of what was going on that evening. The remaining 80 percent is captured in the crowd that knew every word to every song. It was sealed up in his defining stage presence that exuded cool with the calm of age. It is falling in love with your favorite song like it was the first time you slid the cassette in the tape deck.
This disc is a tasty appetizer to tide you over until you can dive into the actual experience that is a Morrissey live show. It is something akin to what Ferris Bueller felt smuggling away the Ferrari, “I have to admit. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
For more music critiques by this reviewer, please visit PM Media Review. Also be sure to check out Morrissey’s “Bigmouth Strikes Again” along with the best cutting edge music on Internet radio featured on Live365’s Innovative Radio.Powered by Sidelines