Hollywood Bowl : Morrissey delivers a strong night of songs old and new at the first of two sold-out Hollywood Bowl shows
The crowd cheered loudly, many laughing, because with Morrissey, well, you never know. He canceled his previous show -- an unfortunately uncommon practice for him -- in Paso Robles on Sunday because it was too cold, the slaughterhouse videos he insists on showing during the song "Meat Is Murder" remain as gruesomely difficult to watch as ever, and he's never, ever shy about sharing his views on politics and society.
But this was
The show opened with an Elvis cover, "You'll Be Gone," and "I Started Something I Couldn't Finish," the first of four songs in his set from the Smiths, the influential group in which Morrissey first found fame.
As a songwriter, his lyrics mine the personal and political, love and loathing, the artist as a world-weary chronicler of modern life. At the
"I Wish You Lonely" and "Jacky's Only Happy When She's Up On The Stage" showed up early in the set off the album that arrives on Friday, his first in three years. While the new songs are strong, and were warmly received by the crowd, it's only natural that the biggest responses came to the best-known and loved songs from his catalog.
"How Soon Is Now," one of the Smiths' biggest numbers, was a standout of the first half of the show, red lights pulsing on the rings of the band shell, white strobes blasting from behind the band as the throbbing guitars roared behind Morrissey's vocal.
By comparison, the new single, "Spent The Day In Bed," which followed felt lighter, an almost charming ode to turning off the news -- "Because the news contrives to frighten you," he sang -- and hiding in a cocoon of sheets and pillow and safety.
Highlights of the back half of the show included the new tune "My Love, I'd Do Anything For You," a cover of the Pretenders' "Back On The Chain Gang," and the slightly sinister feel of "Speedway."
"Meat Is Murder" is an admirable sentiment -- Morrissey's dedication to animal rights is unquestioned, and the Bowl food vendors agreed to go vegetarian for both his shows there -- but the slaughterhouse clips he insists on showing are truly hard to take. (That said, the guy who shouted a few obscenities at Morrissey at the close of that bit must not have known a thing about the artist he was seeing.)
The main set wrapped up with the always lovely "Everyday Is Like Sunday," the crowd singing loudly on the choruses, while the encore offered up a pair of classics, "Suedehead" and the Smiths' "Shoplifters Of The World Unite," at the end which Morrissey took of his jacket, threw it into the crowd and walked off stage bare-chested under the 55-degree night skies.
Which is also, coincidentally enough, how
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