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REVIEW: Morrissey - Live In New York
Photo by: Mark Doyle Photography

REVIEW: Morrissey - Live In New York

By: Jessica Gonzalez
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A review of the Morrissey playing live in New York at King's Theatre


“As I live and breathe, / you have killed me, you have killed me…” That familiar, lovingly sardonic, yet tearfully sincere, baritone rang out. The chorus of Mozzy’s second-performed track perfectly described the feeling that captivated the audience last Saturday at Brooklyn’s historic Kings Theatre: enraptured by the authoritative voice for the “still ill,” we readers-meeting-author hung on every word the former Smiths frontman allowed us -- he slayed us with his mere presence. And he gave us only the best.

After a series of cancelled concerts in 2014 due to poor health, Morrissey fans worldwide jumped on the chance to see him on a world tour this year and admittedly, I almost jumped out of my office chair when I saw his name pop up in the subject line of an “Upcoming Shows” email from OhMyRockness. “Is this some kind of cruel joke?” I wondered. “Because that joke isn’t funny anymore…” Naturally, the shows nearest us at venues in NYC and Philly sold out within hours, but we were lucky to snag reasonably-priced(-ish) tickets from StubHub the day before the show.

Kings Theatre was packed to the brim with Morrissey-men (they’re what they sound like -- men who dress exactly like Morrissey and curiously, outfits vary among them, portraying different eras of his decade-spanning career), but there was no clear demographic that dominated the audience. The magic of Morrissey’s music is its ability to unite -- unite and take over.

When Morrissey finally came out on stage after an hour of pre-concert footage (a montage of scenes featuring James Dean, The Ramones, James Baldwin, Marilyn Monroe, and other iconic, yet random and questionably-connected pop culture and historical figures -- quite typical for a Moz show, actually), he belted out no other than his iconic hit, “Suedehead.” The audience erupted in song. It was a chilling moment. His voice, still clear as day even with age, bounced against the palace that is Kings Theatre and resonated against the high, cathedral-like ceilings. The sounds of his band, the wailing guitar, the driving drums, propelled us, gave us life. Fans young and old raised their arms, sang along proudly.

“Alma Matters” followed the aforementioned “You Have Killed Me”, ‘90s-reminiscent comfort healing us from the excitement of the first two bangers. “Alma Matters” is one of my all-time favorite Moz songs. I was entranced as I sang along and swayed. “It’s my life, / to ruin, / my own way,” the people around me joined in. So much about this song reminds me of why I have been a fan of Morrissey since 16 -- his songwriting is declarative without feeling forced; it is straightforward and at times raw, yet tongue-in-cheek, and literary. His melodies are dynamic and somehow perpetually nostalgic. Listening to him feels productive and healing. In fact, I did not realize until this show that at 16, I had not fallen in love with the Smiths -- I had fallen in love with Morrissey. The Smiths were simply the gateway drug.

Every song on the set list that night packed a punch -- there were simply no filler songs thrown in whatsoever. “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” and  “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” (so meaningful considering recent tragedy -- and he continued this thoughtfulness via other creative choices throughout the concert), were thrown in between newer songs from the latest album. The titular “World Peace is None of Your Business” was warming and powerful. “Speedway” started mid-song, like an engine revving up (off the 1994 release Vauxhall and I, this track also means so much to me), and ended with a dynamic percussion part (re: a huge gong was involved). I have to admit, though, this song was performed better by his band the last time I saw Moz at Madison Square Garden. Though, this was no fault of Moz’s. Moz can do no wrong.

The obligatory, always-performed “Meat is Murder” slowed things down, and even some of his most excited fans took this opportunity to go to the bathroom (re: me). I’m sorry, Morrissey, but that video kills me and not in the way that you usually kill me. And I know that’s the point, but, alas. “Everyday is Like Sunday” soon followed, though, perking everyone back up. The hit song again allowed another unforgettable moment of crowd unison. Who knew singing about everyday being “shiny and gray” could ever be such a happy affair?

Other notable songs included the fun “You’re the One for Me, Fatty” and “Jack the Ripper.” The only two Smiths songs Mozzer performed were “What She Said” and “How Soon is Now”, the latter completely gripping the venue with hectic lighting, commanding riffs (though, never as good as the original part performed by Johnny Marr -- can we continue praying for this reunion?), and a relentless Morrissey. Who in the entire theatre didn’t know this song? The result was enthralling, burly, anthemic.

At the end, Moz as usual stripped off his white button-down shirt, throwing it in the audience for the lucky pit-occupiers to fight over the scraps (yes, because usually the shirt is torn apart, allowing fan-boys and -girls to divide the sweaty, loved garment among themselves). He walked off the stage without so much as a goodbye. “You have killed us…”

He returned, of course, for an encore, which consisted of a Ramones cover (“Judy is a Punk”) and “Irish Blood, English Heart”.

At concert’s end, I thought I would feel fulfilled. I thought I would feel a sense of much-needed closure, considering this might be the last time I will ever see Morrissey live (who knows what will happen considering his self-reports of failing health, and his unfortunate habit of cancelling whole series of shows?). His Kings Theatre performance, unfortunately, left me wanting more. Anyone willing to give me the funds to get myself to Australia to catch the October leg of the tour?!
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