Well, he showed up. All the fans in the audience were getting a little nervous there, as they sat watching one video montage after the next. After all, Morrissey has had the bad reputation of canceling Bay Area shows just hours before he is set to go on … but not this time. On Saturday night, Moz took command of the stage at the San Jose Convention Center with a roaring set that covered everything from his classics to some of the newer stuff.
Sadly, Amanda Palmer couldn’t make it to the show as the set opener. The Boston musician revealed that last weekend she was hospitalized for acute Lyme disease treatment, and therefore could not open for the ex frontman of The Smiths. According to her blog, Palmer, who is also seven-months pregnant, received two spinal taps while receiving treatment in a Maine facility.
But the show had to go on, and despite his reputation as being finicky and standoffish, the ex-lead singer of The Smiths, came out in a good mood and was warm and personable throughout the night. He kicked off the evening with the high-energy “Suedehead,” during which the crowd went crazy in adoration for the statuesque crooner. The man with the romantic voice was on his best behavior Saturday night, bowing and saying thanks to the audience, and repeatedly leaning off stage to shake hands with people in the front rows. Since Morrissey’s music is more hypnotic than danceable, his audience mostly gazed quietly at their hero on stage, but erupted loudly with cheers after each and every song.
A definite highlight of the show occurred during the fourth song, “Speedway,” when his keyboard player, Gustavo Manzur, sang the last half of the song in Spanish. This must have been the most memorable moment that night for his large Mexican fan base that had come out in numbers to show their support. Manzur continued with the excitement by wooing the audience with a slick acoustic guitar solo during “Staircase at the University.”
Unsurprisingly, Morrissey also used the stage as a platform to preach his politics. Most songs featured some type of static imagery as a background, with “Ganglord” being one of the most powerful as it included disturbing clips of police brutality, from the shooting of Walter Scott to the pepper-spraying of UC Davis students. Similarly, The Smiths’ “Meat Is Murder,” was equally upsetting and showed the horrifying conditions in slaughterhouses worldwide as cows’ throats were slit and chickens were decapitated.
We asked Chris Sprouls, a self-declared superfan of Moz’s, what it is about the enigmatic singer that makes his legion of fans stay so loyal to him throughout the years, and this is what he said: “There are so few singers that are just flat-out performers. He embraces his role in pop music and in people’s lives and his shows always reflect that […] He just CARES. He is the same person he was with The Smiths in the 80s. He’s never afraid to bring out personal politics and have a relationship with the audience. The audience can feel that love.”
Although the security was a bit heavy-handed that night, and didn’t allow for much audience participation, the award for best encore stage rush ever had to be given to the 10-year-old kid that got up to hug Morrissey and sing “Everyday is like Sunday.” It was a very touching end to a wonderful evening where politics, music and humanity converged for one unforgettable night.
First of the Gang to Die
Kiss Me a Lot
Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before
(The Smiths song)
World Peace Is None of Your Business
Staircase at the University
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Kick the Bride Down the Aisle
The World Is Full of Crashing Bores
What She Said
(The Smiths song)
The Bullfighter Dies
Will Never Marry
Meat Is Murder
(The Smiths song)
I Will See You in Far-Off Places
Everyday Is Like Sunday