This past Saturday I, along with my friend Reggie(pictured above on the right), and girlfriend Indira, were privileged to witness one of my favorite artists in action. The great Steven Morrissey. The Moz. This was my second dose of the icon and he is aging gracefully while still maintaining that youthful nonchalance and swagger that made him who he is.
It would be misleading to say that I really like Morrissey, because the fact of the matter is that since the mid nineties his smooth baritone voice and ridiculously dramatic lyrics have always been in the back of my head. From ‘The Smiths’ to ‘Vauxhall and I’ to ‘Your Are The Quarry’ and so forth. His crooning British Sinatra style has definitely left an impact on me. And so it was with great joy that I got to see him again here in Hawaii.
The Kaka’ako Waterfront Park makes for a great setting. The amphitheater design is not too big like others I’ve been to so it maintains a bit more intimacy. This is of course a great thing when seeing someone like Morrissey, a man whose lyrics scream intimacy. The sound clarity is excellent and with it being so close to the beach the ocean breeze is fantastic. Beautiful skies and bombastic music, what more can you ask for?
Now I purchased V.I.P. tickets and frankly my only criticism of the event was how VIP was handled. Now, I know it will sound kind of snobbish but when a promoter talks about a VIP entrance I kind of expect not to wait in to longer line than the regular one. Instead the VIP line was backing up and moving incredibly slower than the other non-VIP lines because for 10-15 minutes there were no bracelets. I definitely think something like this should be a simple function, but it was made more complicated by not being prepared.
Now when I finally made it to the VIP section there was food there, which was good and all. But I really think they should have provided plastic chairs or something to sit on while eating said food. I heard this mentioned by a couple of sources in the food line which is what got me thinking about it as well. It did seem odd that people had to leave the VIP area and sit down on the ground to eat for the most part. It just caught me as an oversight that could have easily been rectified. Aside from these minor issues the rest of the night was seamless.
Onto the show, our main event of the evening. The VIP tickets afforded me up close views of the stage. Well worth the money considering how often Morrissey comes around Hawaii. Kristeen Young opened for Morrissey and she was quite talented. Her sound was somewhere between Paula Cole and Bjork while her one woman stage show was impressive. I will probably be checking out her albums in the near future.
At last the anticipation came to head and ended when Morrissey came out to “How Soon is Now?”, a good opening in my opinion. Especially with the gong and massive drum to liven things up. It got everyone amped up and didn’t leave you hoping for it later. He played 5 more Smiths songs in the show which is more than I thought he would play. While I would have loved to have heard “This Charming Man” and “Panic” I was perfectly content with the songs he did play.
The last time I saw him I don’t think he played as many older songs as he did this time. Of the 21 songs, basically 15 of them were older material and not off his newest album, ‘Years of Refusal’. Also a couple of the songs were completely new songs that haven’t been released yet, so that was a pleasant surprise.
After hitting the staple song “Everyday is Like Sunday”, he soon went into a great performance of “Speedway” with a spoken word interlude. This is one of my favorite songs and really ends the album ‘Vauxhall and I’ on such a powerful note. I was completely overjoyed that I got to hear it live. It truly sent the show into orbit for me. I’m pretty sure I was cruising on cloud nine the rest of the evening.
During the course of the show I noticed that Morrissey himself was a quite a bit more vocal and playful than when I had seen him 5 years prior. He seemed to be in a good mood and even took getting hit right in the face with flowers like a champ. “It’s ok, I can take it.” he said. Obviously it wouldn’t be a Morrissey show without his wardrobe changes, and yes he did have a couple. For a 53 year old man, it is quite amazing to see the confidence never falters. Even while ripping his shirts off and tossing it into the crowd.
On a side note, seeing people fighting over a shirt worn by Morrissey is quite comical.
Halfway through the show, you can definitely sense the change in tempo. Moz, being who he is, sets it up with “Meat is Murder” and the accompanying video, which is quite graphic. You have to give him credit though. If you think about it, he was one of the first few people to bring his vegetarian lifestyle to the forefront in such an expressive way. Before PETA was mainstream news and the whole vegan craze, there was Morrissey in the 80s talking about how us meat eaters are murderers. You have to respect him for that type of conviction.
The night shifted gears in the second half of the set as he seemed to play more of his really self-deprecating songs like “I Will See You In Far Off Places”, “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me”, “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and “When Last I Spoke To Carol”. It created a very well balanced set list that was thoroughly enjoyable and added to that feeling of intimacy I spoke of earlier.
The show came to a close after the encore with “First of the Gang To Die”, where he pointed to his picture of Oscar Wilde, a major influence for Moz, and altered his lyrics accordingly. Morrissey has always been one for dramatic flair and making statements using his idols. Last time it was James Dean, this time it was Oscar Wilde.
This all made for an incredible show and when it came to a close I was spinning. Could I have asked for more Moz? Sure. But I was satisfied and had no deep longing. No yearning for a better show of “wish he would have played…” songs nor bitter taste of disappointment with an apathetic artist.
Morrissey gave me exactly what I wanted for the evening, just this once.
For those of you curious, here is the full set list and a link to quite a few pictures of the show.
1.How Soon Is Now?
2.You Have Killed Me
4.You’re The One For Me, Fatty
5.I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
6.Shoplifters Of The World Unite
7.Everyday Is Like Sunday
8.Ouija Board, Ouija Board
11.Meat Is Murder
12.Let Me Kiss You
13.To Give (The Reason I Live)
14.People Are The Same Everywhere
15.I Will See You In Far Off Places
16.Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
18.Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want
19.When Last I Spoke To Carol
21.First Of The Gang To Die