Photo by DAN LONG
Two songs into his set at the Academy of Music on Saturday night, Morrissey paused to catch his breath and to beg the crowd to “save us from the memory of Delaware,” where he and his band were met by a sparse crowd of booing yokels at the Firefly Fest the day before. The near-deafening response made it clear that he’d get his wish. The packed house at the Academy got their wish, too: Moz more than rebounded from the Delaware disaster with an electric performance that kept the crowd on its feet for two hours and 20 songs that spanned from The Smiths years to Morrissey’s latest, World Peace is None of Your Business.
Thirty years to the month after The Smiths enchanted a room of fatalist misfits (including yours truly) at the Tower Theater, Morrissey is thicker and grayer — as are we all. His voice was in excellent form, however, remarkable considering the health problems that forced several rounds of tour cancellations last year. Let’s hope that a couple of off-mic coughs between songs isn’t indicative of any lingering trouble. The crowd at a Morrissey show knows that he’s not going to give them a cakewalk, as evidenced by the horrifying slaughterhouse footage projected behind the band during “Meat is Murder” and the medley of citizen-taped police beatings during “Ganglord.” They also know that they’ll be rewarded for their suffering with gems like the rollicking la-dee-dahs of “What She Said” from 1985’s Meat is Murder and the sexy croons of “Speedway” from 1994’s Vauxhall and I.
The encore, “First of the Gang to Die” from 2004’s You are the Quarry, was reminiscent of Morrissey’s gladiolus-flinging days with Marr & co., as a half-dozen adoring fans jumped on stage and ran to their hero for a hug before getting tackled by stage security. A clearly tickled Moz responded by switching the refrain “First of the gang to die / oh my” with “First of the gang to die / nice try.” Our conquering hero ended the show by tearing off his white shirt and throwing it to the screaming crowd. What a difference a few miles up I-95 makes. Suck it, Dela-where. — JOANN LOVIGLIO