Sunday, March 29, 2009

Morrissey--Carnegie Hall, New York City

Tonight I completed my two leg tour of aging solo superstars who used to front great bands at historic venues. The first was David Byrne at Radio City. Tonight was Morrissey at the very fancy Carnegie Hall. Because it was my first time at Carnegie hall, as it was my first time at Radio City weeks ago, I got there early to look around. Turns out there's not all that much to look at, so I found my way to my seat pretty quickly. My seat was great--I was in a box in the first row of the first balcony and felt a little like Newland Archer crossed with the King of England. It was a little strange at first being in a box with eight strangers, but when the music started it was completely normal. The opening band, the unfortunately named Courteeners, were a solid and very predictable British five-piece. The kind of band you know is from Manchester before they tell you they're from Manchester. The audience seemed to dig them--their lead singer has a nice voice and they had some good songs. I didn't like them enough for any follow-up listening, but I could see fans of bands like Coldplay and Travis checking them out.

Morrissey and the Tormentors came on stage shortly after the Courteeners finished up. Morrissey was dressed, hysterically, in a tux, I assume because the venue was so fancy, while the Tormentors looked like the Hives circa 2005 in black shirts with white ties. The band played a little intro and then broke right into "This Charming Man," which was spectacular. As I found that the music at a Morrissey show is kind of secondary to the event, I'm not going to spend much time on the actual tunes. Moz played through most of his new album Years of Refusal, which I love, and, I believe, a lot of songs from his more recent solo albums. I'm not too familiar with his solo catalog beyond Vauxhall (off of which he played nothing) and the new one, so there was a lot of stuff I didn't recognize. At my count, he played four Smiths songs, all of them great: "This Charming Man," "Ask," "Death of a Disco Dancer," and "How Soon is Now." He seemed to be in good spirits throughout the show as he danced with his microphone cord and worked the stage. His band, especially the drummer, did an excellent job.

He did a little interacting with the audience as well. At one point, he held the mic down to the front row and asked people to say something intelligent. One lady told him that she loved him, another asked him what we should do about the economic crisis (he didn't know), and another explained that he once broke his neck at a Morrissey show. Thanks, Professor Buzzkill! Morrissey also shook hands with a bunch of people in the front row of the crowd throughout the night. One in every twenty or so fans refused to let go, prompting security to pry their hands apart. A couple fans tried to rush the stage causing one security guy, whose eyes were peeled like Mike Singletary for the entire two hours, to intervene. Two sweaty shirts were thrown into the crowd causing small scale riots in the first few rows before, I assume, they were torn to shreds Ayatollah death shroud style. Immediately after he threw the first shirt into the crowd, he brought Sebastian, the baby on the cover of Years of Refusal, on stage to say hello. Then he threw Sebastian into the crowd to be torn to shreds as well.* Perhaps the funniest part of my night was when a lady sitting next to me offered me her binoculars to "see up close how sweaty" Morrissey was. She seemed surprised when I declined.

While the setlist was far from perfect for my taste, the show was great. I can't imagine seeing Morrissey perform in a more apt venue. The man's voice still sounds wonderful and deep after all these years and, despite lyrics to the contrary, he seemed happy.

*Or maybe he didn't throw the baby to the crowd. He definitely brought him on stage though.

--Jim Powers

1 comment:

Brian said...

Look at Jim Powers droppin' arcane science.

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