13 May 2012

A Night With Morrissey

Last Sunday, I was reminded why I love Morrissey so much. After 26 years of waiting, I finally found myself in the right place at the right time. I finally got to see the enigmatic icon who helped shape my youth, perform live. He did not disappoint.

To say that I was once obsessed with The Smiths would be an understatement. I started listening to them in 1986, which is sad, really, because they broke up in 1987. The first album I bought was The Queen is Dead (1986) and I was hooked. It didn't take very long before I owned their two previous releases Meat is Murder (1985) and The Smiths (1984) as well as any singles I could get my hands on. By the time their last studio album, Strangeways, Here we Come (1987) was released, I had read the complete works of Oscar Wilde and had become a strict vegetarian, all because of Morrissey. I still love Oscar Wilde, but I gave up vegetarianism in 1991. What can I say? I missed seafood too much. I'm sorry, Moz.

Oscar Wilde
When I took my seat in the balcony at the AX Korea, a venue with a capacity of about 2,000 people, a video of the New York Dolls performing Looking for a Kiss was playing. As soon as the video ended, the screen dramatically fell to the floor, revealing a stage set with a backdrop of my beloved Oscar Wilde, with a speech bubble saying, 'WHO IS MORRISSEY?' The familiar bells tolled, and Morrissey, flanked by his bandmates, who were (excluding guitarist Boz Boorer, who was in drag) donning 'We Hate William and Kate' t-shirts, took centre stage. Immediately, the gladioli took flight. It was... magical.

Then Moz spoke. He said, "Tonight... I give you my soul," and the crowd went mental. Leave it to Moz to open a show in Seoul with those words. How could you not love him? Then, the band launched into the hypnotic anthem of alienation and social isolation, How Soon Is Now? and Moz began to sing and... his voice was heavenly. I was mesmerised... transported to a dark basement, sitting on the cold, carpeted floor, listening to The Smiths and feeling what so many teens at the time were feeling... somebody understands me. This is why, the simplest gesture, such as an outstretched hand, means so much when executed by Morrissey. Every time he gracefully reached out to the crowd, adoring fans in the front row struggled to touch his hand. I envied them, from my balcony seat. Oh well. Next time I'll be closer. I really hope there will be a next time.

In the meantime, I've got a lot of catching up to do. I have to admit, despite owning everything The Smiths ever released on vinyl, the only solo album of Morrissey's I have in my collection is Viva Hate (1988). While I enjoyed every minute of last Sunday's performance, and certainly recognised tracks from albums I may not actually own, there were only six songs (How Soon is Now?, Every Day is Like Sunday, Meat is Murder, I Know It's Over, Shoplifters of the World Unite and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me) with which I was able to sing along to in their entirety.

I've heard horror stories from friends who've seen Morrissey live; tales of the singer insulting the audience or getting pissed off about something and leaving the stage after only five songs, never to return. However, he was gracious and kind to the audience in Seoul. It was his first time in Korea. At one point, he emphatically expressed, "I never thought my career would bring me to... Korea," then proceeded to clutch his face in his hands, as though overwhelmed by the love and attention. It was extremely touching. In fact, there were so many memorable moments at this show, it's hard to single just one of them out. One of the highlights of the night was when, halfway through the song Speedway (from 1994's Vauxhall and I) there was a silent pause, followed by Morrissey's crooning of, "Starry, starry night, Paint your palette blue and gray, Look out on a summer's day... and... wot?" from the song Vincent (a tribute to Van Gogh) by Don McLean. It was absurd. It made me laugh. Another highlight was when Morrissey took an envelope from one of the fans, clutched it to his heart and later stuffed it in his back pocket. I nearly swooned. Of course, when he tore his shirt off and flung it into the crowd, I also nearly swooned.

Unfortunately, the only photo I took that night

Normally, I wouldn't let a silly thing like security get in my way, but they made me put my bag in a locker, the bastards! And I didn't have any pockets! Luckily, some people managed to sneak their cameras in. The following video montage recaptures the magic, allowing me to relive this extraordinary night...

All in all, it truly was an unforgettable show. I am so glad that I finally got to see him perform live. I love you, Morrissey. I'm sorry that I had forgotten how much I do. I never will again... I promise.

Seoul Set List:
1. How Soon Is Now
2. You Have Killed Me
3. Every Day Is Like Sunday
4. Alma Matters
5. You're The One For Me, Fatty
6. Shoplifters Of The World Unite
7. I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
8. Speedway (+ ‘Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and grey
Look out on a summer's day’ - from “Vincent”)
9. To Give (The Reason I Live) - Frankie Valli Cover
10. Meat Is Murder
11. Let Me Kiss You
12. Black Cloud
13. I'll See You In Far-Off Places
14. I Know It's Over
15. Ouija Board, Ouija Board
16. When I Last Spoke To Carol
17. One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
18. Last Night I dreamt That Somebody Loved Me

Encore : First Of The Gang To Die

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well written! I too am a huge fan and missed out on him twice. Lived in Korea 10 years and that was the highlight of it all. Re-living it now, came across your blog. You said it all brilliantly! Cheers.