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Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Review: Morrissey, Hammersmith Apollo, 21 September 2015 by Marcus Markou

Don’t get me wrong. Morrissey was incredible. Morrissey is incredible. He is a force. He has the power to rewire you from the inside. I came home with an artistic buzz. He is artists’ ecstasy.

I say to my wife Victoria, who came with me, “I want to stay up all night and write. That is what I want to do”.

“Do it,” she says.

Instead, I foolishly lie down in the dark for the next four or five hours unable to sleep, my mind on shuffle alternating between Speedway and The Queen is Dead.

The madness of attempting sleep in this state was broken three times in the night. Constantine, our youngest, had a nightmare. Hector, our one-eared refugee cat from Cyprus, howled like a child loon and Alexander, our eldest, cursed Hector for waking him.

“Get out!” he screamed.

Outside, the cosmos was in alignment with the internal schism of the household. Rain and wind.

The energy of a Morrissey concert is something else. I mused on this through a sleepless but surprisingly upbeat night. I also pondered on ex-girlfriends and failed friendships. Broken images and imaginary conversations were underscored by Morrissey, my ears still buzzing. In a half state of consciousness I was asking myself whether Morrissey had fused punk with opera. It seemed like a good idea at 4am. And why did Oboe Concerto remind me of being 14 again and listening to Hunky Dory for the first time? Hunky Dory, Morrissey, all so strangely seductive.

Could this really be the last time? I tweeted Manclad earlier in the day about Artie Shaw giving up the clarinet and becoming a novelist. Artie Shaw was huge. A maverick. In an age before pop stars he was a pop star. He sold over 100 million records and was a pioneer in fusing jazz with classical… okay, okay. You get the picture. Artie Shaw was big and he was very big with the clarinet and one day he just dropped it. Just like that. He literally put down his clarinet and never played it again. He picked up a pen and never stopped writing.

Victoria and I are crossing the road. We arrive early at Hammersmith. As we cross a man next to us says: “Is it a Morrissey gig?”

“Yes,” I reply.

“That’s so cool. Are you going?”

Victoria is only seconds into her first Morrissey gig and I already feel validated. She’s brimming with gig coolness.

“Apparently, it’s going to be his last,” I say.

“Ha! Yeah. They all say that,” the man says.

“Yeah,” I say.

“Yeah,” says Victoria.

“Have a great time!” The man says. And gone.

“You see,” I say to Victoria. “Something about Morrissey brings complete strangers together… It’s so blue rose,” I add.

Victoria rolls her eyes.

We are so early. I assumed doors at 7pm and Morrissey would be on at 8pm. We sit in the balcony – close to the front. I take a few pictures and tweet. A striking blonde in the immediate row in front of us is having trouble locating her seats. A few minutes later, Russell Brand, the comedian-actor-activist, appears alongside the same blonde and also seems to be having trouble with the seats. He is fidgety.

Victoria and I are momentarily star struck. It quickly fades. The temptation to be star struck and take pictures is replaced by a sense of dignity – for us and the celebrity. He is human after all. A man a few rows further down has no shame. He whips out his phone. Russell Brand crosses his arms into an ‘X’ and pulls a pose for the photo.

“Was he just doing an X Factor pose?” I ask?

“I think he’s trying to get better seats,” whispers Victoria.

Russell Brand is looking down towards the front of the balcony, speaking on his phone, and at one point goes down and starts a conversation with someone, pointing back towards the row in front of us.

“Look at me… don’t look at me… Look at me… don’t look at me,” whispers Victoria. “Massive ego issues,” she adds. Victoria is also in recovery.

“I still like him,” I whisper back.

“I do to,” Victoria says.

“His spat with Fox News was one of the best things ever,” I say. “He took on an entire mind control programme,” I add. The new world order reference is lost on Victoria but she is in agreement.

“He looks lost,” she adds.

“On the list of the lost?” I reply. But the eponymous reference to the forthcoming novel by Morrissey is… well, ironically, lost.

On the screen, Leo Sayer is singing, Won’t Let the Show Go On dressed as a clown.

“I told you!” I almost scream to my wife who is a Leo Sayer fanatic and cites One Man Band in her top 50 all time. “Morrissey has amazing taste in music.”

“Shit,” I say.

“What?”

“It’s just occurred to me that Leo Sayer’s clown look was four or five years before Bowie… Fuck… Bowie copied Sayer!”

“Sayer was ahead of his time. Please listen to the lyrics on One Man Band,” Victoria pleads.

“Victoria. You’ve been asking me to do that for 23 years...” I leave a space for comic timing then add, “I’ll do it on Monday.”

The video presentation builds to a climax and Morrissey enters to high operatic gusto. He starts to sing alone without a band and then jokes about it before going into his set.

As I said at the beginning of this review. Morrissey is an incredible artist. His vocals were stunning. I spent half the concert leaning over to Victoria saying, “Fucking hell. How good is his voice?”

Victoria always responding with, “It’s amazing.”

At this point I would like to point out that Victoria was a big fan of the Smiths and Morrissey as a teen and dated someone that looked like him. She tweeted this. She loves Suedehead with a passion so when it came on I was delighted for her.

My standouts were Oboe Concerto, Speedway, Crashing Bores, and The Queen is Dead – if only because these were the songs that seemed to have embedded themselves into me through a sleepless night. But it was great to hear Staircase at the University, World Peace is None of Your Business and The Bullfighter Dies – which are starting to form longterm relationships with me. It takes time for songs to become part of your core memory. The songs from World Peace are starting to do that.

But there was something in the energy tonight. Where the O2 in November had flamboyance, flair and a tenderness, here at the Apollo there was a slight impatience, a shortness. Just a pinch of it.

“I love you,” Morrissey was saying. “I am so grateful for your support… but there is a new love in my life. I don’t know whether it will work out but I am excited for us. You might just have to let me go – as you did when I left before. I may come back. I may not. I don’t actually know. But if I seem a little disconnected… well, you can understand why…”

And I do understand. I am probably more excited about the idea of Morrissey giving up music for literature than is acceptable. But I am a writer too. I am excited for him. 

"He will never give up music," Victoria says. 

"Artie Shaw did," I reply.

"He has so much to say and he says it well. I don’t care whether he says it in song or in tweets... I wish Morrissey was on Twitter," I lament.  

19 comments:

  1. Thank you Marcus, what a beautifully written and well considered review; I feel that you evocatively captured the bitter-sweet nature of how I had been imagining this gig to be. I really appreciate you sharing.

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  2. Hi Marcus, wish I'd known you were there - I was in the block to your left, about 6 rows back from the front, viewing all of Russell's prancing and posing. Quite amusing. Loved all of those you mentioned plus My Dearest Love and Boxers. He seemed on edge for some parts, not quite relaxed. Wish I'd been there the previous night to see Rat's moment of glory.

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    1. Ah! We missed an opportunity! So sorry. I didn't know you were so close! Hope you're well. Hopefully, there will be a next time but if not, next time you are in London, we must say hello.

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    2. I work in London so no problem for me

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    3. I didn't know that. We must do it.

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  3. oh Marcus, good stuff, I have now read up a bit on our Artie and as for Russell, well he was in my block at the staples center 114, I hear you about Leo Sayer being before Bowie, but I felt that Leo only did it to get noticed because I cant ever remember him wearing the clown gear after that one song, anyway so glad that you had a fantastic time and I know how you felt last night because when I go abroad for a concert it feels the same every single time, I even told Rosy and Ears before they went to Genoa, I think they understood what I meant afterwards, you were all part of a very special night and maybe just maybe Victoria will now stop ribbing you about Morrissey as I'm sure she witnessed a fantastic event.. p.s, Russell told my mate in LA that he does his west ham pose in photos when men ask for a photo

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    1. Interesting about Leo Sayer. You're right. He never went the distance. I honestly think the Morrissey thing with Victoria was the likeness to her ex. She tracked him down on Linked In recently and he hasn't aged well at all (unlike the real Morrissey). I think this opens the door for Morrissey again. And thanks for the info about Russell and the West Ham pose. That makes sense now. We both had a wonderful time.

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  4. Nice review, Marcus. I am still compiling mine from Sunday. This is what Solow used to be good for. Now it is good for nothing.

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    1. Thanks Rat. I never go to that site. I never did. I was telling the office today about the coincidences and your blog and all the stories. They l'OO'ked at me as if I was mad.

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    2. It isn't something that can ever really be explained. You were either there, or you weren't, although that's not necessarily true. The greatest success of my blog to date, is Kerry the Cocktail (Boozey Boozelette). Kerry found the blog, was intrigued by it, and then bothered to read it from the start. It made sense to her, she jumped on board, and the rest is history. It is possible that others could still find it.
      Your final lament that you wished Morrissey was on Twitter is rather amusing. He has never left Twitter, although these days he certainly doesn't tweet like he did as Our Mozzer. I still think that one day he will return to Twitter as Our Mozzer. I also think that Morrissey will return to a stage in the UK - he won't do an Artie Shaw on us. For now, I would imagine that he is writing, writing, writing, and why would any of us want to disturb that?

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  5. I very much enjoyed reading your review and observations Marcus.
    It was great to meet you at the O2, you were just as I imagined, which is a compliment !
    Victoria has great taste loving Suedehead as I do.
    Our Moz must follow his muse and do what he feels is right for him.
    Hopefully he will leave the door ajar and not shut it completely.
    I do hope that M returns to Twitter when he has the time.
    For now I am waiting impatiently for Thursday and the release of List of the Lost.

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    1. Me too! I have never been more excited by the launch of a novel before.

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  6. Thank you for the write up, Marcus. I always enjoy reading your 'musings'!
    I must admit that I was almost in tears last night following my Twitter feed - I so wish I could have been there!
    I selfishly still hope that Morrissey may still change his mind about this having been his last UK concert but we'll just have to wait and see. Ditto to Lizzy's last sentence - roll on Thursday and all the best to Moz and his new found love!

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  7. Thanks, Marcus, for your enjoyable piece of Morrissey gig-experience. I really appreciate the reviews. I felt sad about not going this time, but I no longer am. I can use my imagination and feel the vibes from the words written in all reviews so far. It goes even so far that I can hear the songs in my head live and well. Everyone writes in their own way, but each time the crackling atmosphere comes right in through the screen.

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  8. I enjoyed your review very much Marcus. I feel like you captured something special with your writing style, and almost felt as if I were momentarily up in the balcony with you and Victoria. Thank you for posting this.

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