It’s been a whole eight years since Morrissey last toured these parts, so when it was announced that the English troubadour would be embarking on a worldwide tour, you would think that one of those places he would visit would be our fair land of Canada.
Well, not really.
A staunch lover of all animals, Morrissey has refused to tour in our country over a disagreement with our seal clubbing policies. Instead, his Canadian tour stop consisted of a singular date at the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls, USA a mere five minutes over the border. Of course, the irony was not lost on us when we found out the only place to eat around the theatre was Burger King.
Say what you want about the man and his polices, but Morrissey knows how to put on a show. Before a packed, excited and mostly Canadian crowd, Moz delivered a sterling 90 minute set that nicely blended solo-era tracks with a few Smiths songs, which were undoubtedly the highlights of the sets.
Let’s break it down:
Shoplifters Of The World Unite
Meat Is Murder
I Know It’s Over
Sweet And Tender Hooligan
How Soon Is Now?
An impressive ensemble of Smiths tracks were played on Friday night, including a rare performance of Sweet and Tender Hooligan, which came much to the surprise of me and my friend Aviva. We had both analyze previous set lists to determine the tracks that we would hear and nowhere on the list was that song. I think my concert going experience for some part has been ruined by setlist.fm since I can’t help myself from checking out the setlist, and ruining the surprise of say, when Morrissey plays I Know It’s Over, one of my favorite tracks of all time. If I hadn’t known it was coming, I probably would have lost it when that song came on, instead, I was satisfied he didn’t skip it. Did that song sound amazing? Yes. Was it a bucket list moment? yes.
The only damper on this set was the inclusion of Meat is Murder, a fine track on it’s own but Morrissey felt the need to play videos of farm animals getting slaughtered on the big screen during the song. Probably a downer for some. Iconic Smith’s track How Soon is Now closed off the set. You simply can’t go wrong with that. Watch it in all it’s glory
You might notice a few people taking the stage to hug Morrissey during that video. That’s a tradition at Morrissey shows, I was surprised it didn’t happen earlier/more frequently. At the Toronto show eight years ago, there were so many people rushing the stage that I think they had a number queuing system put in, like those at the super markets.
Early Morrissey Solo stuff
You’re The One For Me, Fatty
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
The Youngest Was The Most Loved
Everyday is Like Sunday sounded fantastic and one of the highlights of the show for me. Ouija Board was also great. If anything these tracks served as a gentle reminder to Smiths-era diehards that Morrissey, as a solo artist, has put out a buffet of fantastic tracks. You’re the one for me, Fatty is one of my favorite song titles ever. Malajusted, with it’s dark dramatic lighting, came off as a bit trying, but I have never been a fan of that track.
Modern Day Morrissey
You Have Killed Me
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Let Me Kiss You
Modern day Morrissey tracks (I am referring to tracks off his last three albums), have been met with mixed results. The excellent You are the Quarry was only represented with one track, while Years of Refusal and Ringleader of the Tormentors had roughly equal representation. I can’t say I know Years of Refusal very well, and judging by the reaction from the crowd, I was not alone in that aspect. New track Scandinavia was also met without much fanfare. It’s always one of the struggles of an artist with a vast catalog – getting your fans interested in your new music. It’s something all nostalgia related shows deal with, and this was no different. I guess the key is to mix the old and the new well to maintain the ebb and flow of the crowd, something Morrissey did quite well.
To Give (The Reason I Live)
Morrissey had been doing this Franki Valli cover most of this tour, and it was met for a polite applause to which he retorted “You didn’t really mean it, but thanks. Time to pick up the pieces!” before immediately launching into I Know It’s Over. Classic.
All in all, the man sounded great and still commands a room like few. In a world now dominated by indistinguishable hipster bands, Morrissey stands out like no other – opinionated, stubborn, clever and incredibly honest. You might not agree with his politics or methods, but when Morrissey comes to town and plays one of those classic tracks you listened to in your bedroom when you were a teenager, none of it really matters, nor should it.