Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami
Saturday, May 31, 2014
The Moz is beloved as the undisputed master of post-punk balladry, louche melodrama, and biting lyricism.
But he's just as revered (and loathed) for his proclivity toward provocation on a great many subjects, including the consumption of meat and the futility of voting -- not to mention far less pressing stuff like the banality of pharmaceutical commercials.
Quite appropriately then, as the infamous Pope of Mope (or maybe he'd now be more aptly nicknamed the King of Zing) performed at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts' Knight Concert Hall in downtown Miami, he alternated between choice selections from his solo collections, classics from the Smiths catalog, and pithy asides on a few of his pet topics.
Predictably, the evening began with a People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals cartoon, set to Morrissey's "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday," showing baby chicks being separated from their mothers, who are shipped off to factory farms for slaughter by sawblade. The message: "Make Someday Today. Try Vegan."
Soon enough, though, the Moz himself, along with five rugby-shirted bandmates, emerged from the shadows to the screams of a rapturous audience of 50-something punk survivors, 30-ish neo-New Wave types, and sophisticated post-teen hipsters.
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With pomp, he bowed to his devotees. And they threw smashed bouquets of grocery-store flowers.
In thanks for the floral gifts, Morrissey bestowed "How Soon Is Now" upon the overflowingly enthusiastic crowd -- opening with what's probably the most used-in-movies, soundtrack-to-our-lives Smiths song ever.
"I am the son and the heir," he crooned amid his band's beautiful buzz, "of a shyness that is criminally vulgar."
The true fanatics screamed along to every syllable. And already, some were crying.
Without a pause, the Moz ran through several more of his timelessly lush tunes, from "You Have Killed Me" and "Hand in Glove" to "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" and "I Have Forgiven Jesus." And the devotees repeated every word.
But eventually, the evening's hero, sweating through his shirt, needed a moment to catch his breath. And that's when he got chatty.
"It took me a while to bump up the bus fare to make it to Miami," the singer said, rakishly and half-sincerely apologizing for leaving our city's love unrequited for so many years.
"But you will be pleased," he teased, "to hear that my message for you tonight is 'World Peace Is None of Your Business.'"
No one plugs a new song and album as elegantly as Morrissey.
Immediately following that title track off his impending tenth studio record, the Moz unleashed his first real mini-rant of the night, riffing on the corruptness and ineffectiveness of participatory democracy in England and elsewhere.
"The fact is that people don't actually vote," the singer suggested. "It's only a very small minority of people who vote.
"And I!" he exclaimed with a flourish. "I never in my life, and I never shall, under this present regime ... I shall never vote."
(At this point, one particularly excited guy was incited to shout, "Fuck the vote!" And it was unclear if he was joking.)
But pivoting, ever so suavely, Morrissey said, "Instead, I will do this," and he moaned the introductory line to his next tune, "Trouble Loves Me."
A short time later, after another string of songs, the Moz tossed off another mini-rant. But this time, he tackled U.S. TV ads and his superhuman immunity to them, especially pharmaceutical promos.
"I have never seen a commercial on American television that actually encouraged me to buy something or do something," the singer proudly proclaimed. "I never have!
"And I'm fascinated," he continued, "by the commercials which warn you that a certain product could cause hiiiiiives, facial swelliiiiiings, deeeeeep depression, even death! And yet it shows a perfectly healthy woman running through the woods!
"If the commercial were honest, why not show a dead woman."
Sure, Jay Leno did this same joke before his first retirement. But it was still an informative tidbit.
Basically, the songs were gorgeous. But the asides were often silly, and not quite as brilliant as Morrissey might assume.
In fact, the most gripping of the Moz's pedantic moments wasn't even a monologue. He actually said nothing. He just cued up the band, tore into "Meat Is Murder," and let another PETA public service announcement roll.
Accompanied by the song that could be considered his greatest and most lasting rant ("The flesh you so fancifully fry is not succulent, tasty or nice/It is death for no reason") modified only with a few ad-libs ("KFC is murder"), the real-life footage of pig, piglet, baby chick, chicken, and cow slaughter sapped the overflowing enthusiasm from the audience, causing certain weak-stomached fans to cower and cover their eyes.
Even proud lechón asado eaters seemed to be reconsidering their hog-gobbling ways.
Thankfully, after that factory farm horror featurette, there was a scheduled break.
The Moz changed into a fresh shirt as the audience members shook off the shock, recaptured their rapturousness, and coaxed the band out for a two-song encore of "Asleep" and "First of the Gang to Die."
In the evening's closing moments, a pair of enthralled fans hopped up on the stage and rushed their hero. There was a woman who got intercepted by a security guard, just as the singer reached out to grasp her hand. Next, there was a bearded, shave-skulled guy who actually managed to get in a split-second hug. Both were unceremoniously thrown back into the throng.
However, matching their enthusiasm, Morrissey ended the night by peeling off his shirt, balling it up, and hurling the thing into the crowd. He stood on the stage, thrust out his chest, then disappeared into the shadows.
And the devotees squabbled deliriously over their sweaty souvenir.
-"How Soon Is Now"
-"You Have Killed Me"
-"Certain People I Know"
-"Hand in Glove"
-"I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
-"I Have Forgiven Jesus"
-"World Peace Is None of Your Business"
-"Trouble Loves Me"
-"To Give (The Reason I Live)"
-"The Bullfighter Dies"
-"Life Is a Pigsty"
-"Yes, I Am Blind"
-"Meat Is Murder"
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-"First of the Gang to Die"
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