CONCERT REVIEW: Morrissey, 49, Clumsy And Shy

MAN IN BLACK: Morrissey, Academy of Music, last night [Photo: MICHAEL T. REGAN]

BY DIANCA POTTS AND KYLEE MESSNER Spanning the yawning chasm between the teenage wasteland and the retirement home, Morrissey fans from all walks of life filled the lobby of the Academy of Music. From Moz look-a-likes to Rosie O’Donnell’s doppelganger, show-goers of all shapes and sizes mobbed the merch tables, salivating at the sight of overpriced t-shirts and silver key chains. Interrupted by the dimming of ornate, gold-leafed lights, ticket holders quickly found their seats. The opening act, Manchester-bred The Courteeners rocked out like The Killers aspire to but fail. Their melodic riffs infused with their well-delivered themes of love and landscapes gave way to their expected but all-too-swift exit.

Soon after The Courteeners’ set, audience fled back to the lobby for booze, snacks, and souvenirs. Meanwhile, those who remained seated were treated to a big-screen collage of Moz’s inspirations, including everything from The New York Dolls to the girl-fronted ’70s band The Shocking Blue. As the intermission came to an end the audience regrouped for the welcoming of their beloved Morrissey. The lights went low, unmasking an over-sized portrait of a wimpy martyr, arms outstretched with REFUSAL scrawled across his chest. An eruption of screams, sighs and applause summoned Moz and his band to take center stage and begin the begin.

The well worn but still loved “This Charming Man” rose up to kiss the dome of the Academy’s epicenter. With Morrissey in the spotlight, dressed in a crisply-pressed pink shirt, the crowd cried, clapped, and cheered till the song’s end. “Welcome to the revue,” Moz declared to the crowd. “I can assure you tonight you will learn nothing.” Years of Refusal’s “Black Cloud” followed by Meat Is Murder’s “How Soon is Now” led to the removal of Morrissey’s shirt, which was ceremoniously tossed into the ravenous crowd. As the focus was drawn back to the stage, the band kicked into the bittersweet “Irish Blood, English Heart,” leading into the new-found favorite “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” as the crowd outstretched their greedy hands for more of Morrissey and his bona drag.

Before beginning “The World Is Full of Crashing Bores,” Moz asked the crowd, “Do you need a rest,” to which they replied in unison, “NO!” In response Moz continued, “I can be a bit much you know, especially at dinner parties. That’s why I’m never invited.” Louder Than Bombs’ “Ask” was positively electrifying, triggering old memories as only a Smiths fan’s favorite and forlorn track can. Not to be upstaged by the nostalgia of “Death of a Disco Dancer,” Morrissey sprawled and flailed within the confines of the spotlight, ending the song with, “Now you see it’s not rock music, it’s theatre.”

Throughout the latter songs of his set, a sea of swooning fans drunk adulation risked it all to touch the hand of The Smith’s founding father. A few actually succeeded, while others were kept at bay. Introduced as his new single in Iceland, “I’m OK By Myself,” the celibate sensation aroused the crowd with juxtaposed lyrics to upbeat melodies. Making an abrupt exit, followed by a gracious return, the band launched into a one-song encore, “First of the Gang To Die,” with Morrissey, now dressed in white, belting out motives circa 1982. Bowing arm and arm, Moz and his band exited stage left to deafening applause.

Kylee Messner and Dianca Potts are soon-to-graduate Journalism majors at Temple University and hard-to-please Smiths fans. Dianca once had a dream about going to Dorney Park with Morrissey and he wore ‘dad shorts,’ whatever they are. Kylee Messner never had such a dream.


[Illustration by JAY BEVENOUR]

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