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MORRISSEY/MONA @ ST GEORGES HALL, BRADFORD 27/06/11 – REVIEW BY PHIL KING


Tuesday the 27th of June 2011, had the accolade of being the hottest day of the year so far. It was, in fact almost as hot in fact as the fiery breath of some mythical dragon, which made it rather fitting that Steven Patrick Morrissey should chose to play in a theatre named after the Patron Saint of England. It’s also apt that Morrissey should chose to bring his band here because like St George, whose banner is the emblem of the English, Morrissey also represents a facet of Englishness that’s sadly in the process of disappearing. Tonight’s gig follows closely on the heels of a Glastonbury spot that saw Morrissey playing second fiddle to the incredibly wealthy Bono and his band U2. By all accounts it was a storming performance by Morrissey though whether it was as taxing as U2’s subsequent efforts has by and large remained unreported. But it does highlight the fact that if nothing else Morrissey is still driven by the process of being a pop star; every song should be a classic and every concert should be a performance. In essence things have to be done properly for the end result to have any lasting value; though sadly that attitude is a scarce commodity these days as in the main it's the goal that justifies the means. And, as the goal is nearly always celebrity and money it nearly always renders the whole enterprise worthless.

Morrissey’s support tonight comes in the form of American rock n’ rollers Mona, who proceed to warm up the crowd with a fine selection of hard and direct punk rock. Unsurprisingly the crowd embrace the bands smouldering guitar fury and gritty soul which sets the stage perfectly for the arrival of Manchester’s finest.

Morrissey’s gigs are alive in every sense of the word and as soon as his adoring fans catch sight of him as he strolls confidently towards his microphone the cheering almost lifts the roof off this beautiful little theatre. Launching into a triumphant ‘I Want The One I Can't Have’ that causes large pockets of chaos in the crowd, it’s neatly followed by a rare rendition of ‘You're The One For Me, Fatty’ A succinct reading of poison-penned love letter ‘You Have Killed Me’ ends an opening salvo that puts the audience both firmly in the palm of Morrissey’s hand as well as placing them completely under his thumb. Tonight’s show is an assembly of Morrissey’s greatest hits with some jewels from the Smiths back catalogue thrown in for good measure.  Most detail great swells of emotional torment that Morrissey vainly tries to keep in check until they finally overflow and drown him in anguish and despair. You’d imagine this would have a limited appeal, but you’d be wrong, because these despondent tales resonate with the crowd tonight and they hang on every word.    

 

There’s a wonderfully atmospheric version of Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love’ who coincidently is supporting Morrissey at the Hop Farm Festival this coming Saturday.  Reed’s song is treated with respect though what the famously curmudgeonly Velvet Underground main man will make of it god only knows. Maybe he’ll love, I did. Amusingly there are also occasional flashes of Morrissey’s deadpan humour. At one point he tells us that the previous evening he played York and during the day he visited York Minster, then with perfect comic timing he informs us ‘It wasn’t much cop’ However all humour drains away when a deadly serious version of the Smiths ‘Meat Is Murder’ is unleashed, complete with a backdrop of harrowing images of animal cruelty that’s incredibly difficult to watch. There’s some unintentional brevity when dark forces initiate a power cut to severely truncate final song ‘Irish Blood English Heart’ Still the band return to finish the evening with buttoned up versions of ‘First Of The Gang To Die’ and another Smiths classic ‘This Charming Man’.  And that is Bradford’s lot.  Another last stand against a world that’s changing for the worse and another fierce defence of better values.  No matter what his critics say about him, Morrissey is probably the only star working today who can truly show how great being English can really be. Cherish him!

Setlist:

I Want The One I Can't Have
You're The One For Me, Fatty
You Have Killed Me
Shoplifters Of The World Unite
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Action Is My Middle Name
People Are The Same Everywhere
Alma Matters
Satellite of Love
Speedway
I Know It's Over
Meat Is Murder
Irish Blood, English Heart

Encore:

First Of The Gang To Die
This Charming Man

Review/photos by Phil King