Thursday, March 19, 2009
Last of the famous international playboys
Thoughts immediately after leaving tonight's Morrissey concert at UB's Center for the Arts, which I've decided is one of my favorite places to see events in town:
1. In keeping with its stated theme, I try to focus this blog on music/musicians I'm currently or formerly obsessed with, and I've actually managed to escape the siren song of Mr. Suedehead for the length of his career. Oh, sure, I loved the Smiths in their day, but you'd have to be an idiot not to appreciate that band, would you not? I'm just saying I always took the oh-lonesome-me lyrics with a major chunk of salt (easy, since many of the best are so salty to begin with) and never once contemplated hurling gladiolas at the Heir of Oscar Wilde's feet.
2. That said, I realized the minute he walked out on stage that the guy is a World Class Rock Star, with a pretty brilliant sense of how to make a concert into a highly theatrical event. He is very big on whipping the mic cord around (this explains the immense space between his mic stand and the rest of the band) and pressing the flesh with fans (this does not explain the bizarre passive-aggressive vibe, in which he seems to encourage audience members to jump onstage and touch him, only to see them dragged away by very large security guards).
3. As for the solo songs? All perfectly fine, mostly interchangeable. I'm one of those people who won't give up the feeling that he really needed Johnny Marr as a songwriting foil.
4. LIghting: great. Big cut-out backdrop of sailor: loved it. Backing band: excellent. Band outfitted in matching t-shirts of entire band naked: genius. (Sadly, the adorable looking keyboard player does not seem to be on the shirt. It must feel odd for him to be obliged to wear a photo of his predecessor night after night, naked or not.)
5. Speaking of shirts, I imagine they are a line item in the tour budget, as two of the Rock Star's were tossed out into the audience during the show, each soaked with sweat. I actually prayed they would not be thrown anywhere near me, for I am Just Not Into That.
6. Speaking of sweat, I was quite impressed with the fact that it formed a heart shape on the back of shirt #2. This made me wonder if perhaps he has had his sweat glands sculpted to create this effect.
7. Morrissey the man: Boy, does he look old! And yet, he is my age, I think. My neck looks better than his. And yet, he is in far better shape than me, and can pull off that shirt without embarrassment. Also, he always looked old. And I find old people very handsome. Well, some old people. He qualifies.
8. A gong?! Awesome! Having messed the chance to see Led Zep or any number of 70s bands in their prime, I am happy to see them making a comeback.
9. Opening act = The Courteeners = first I'd ever heard of them = their first-ever show in the States = most pleasant surprise in this thankless slot since the Magic Numbers opened for Bright Eyes at the same venue. HIgh 80s revivalism; lotsa echoes of the Jam and, you guessed it, the Smiths. We even bought the CD; a cursory listen to the first four songs confirms that they are catchy, although I'm not sure the recorded versions capture what is so delightful about the band in performance. (Value added: Song 4, aka "What Took You So Long?," actually includes the lines "Sometimes I am bad and sometimes I am rotten / Sometimes I say things that probably should have been forgotten / about people and things, but do you know who I am? I'm like a Morrissey with some strings." Did not catch this during the show.)
10. Between the Courteeners and Moz, vintage music videos, dancehall novelty songs, nightclub routines, and snippets of British films were projected on a large screen. These were clearly curated by the Rock Star himself, as every single one was a perfect gem. Biggest surprise: Who knew he was such a fan of Shocking Blue? Three songs--and who knew they did anything besides "Venus"? (The other two were "Inkpot," which sounds like some sort of raunchy Dutch double entendre, and "Mighty Joe.") Suddenly I find myself wanting to know more about them.
In fact, what say we wrap this up with (a different but similar clip of) "Inkpot"? Note the band's groovy/shimmery black-metallic outfits, and how much the song resembles Abba doing glam: