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Review: Morrissey (Liverpool Empire)

Hours after appearing in Liverpool, an ill Morrissey pulls out of Albert Hall gig. How was Stanley McHale to know?

Published on May 16th 2009.

Review: Morrissey (Liverpool Empire)

“YOU know when Morrissey’s in town,” said Noel Gallagher, once. “Not because there’s a press conference at the airport, but because you just know it.”

And it's true. Throughout the afternoon, pubs started to fill with quiffs. Knowing nods and glances were exchanged between strangers. The Head Of Steam on Lime Street even decided to play nothing but Smiths and Morrissey tunes all day.

Let’s face it, the same thing does not happen when Joe Longthorne’s about.

National treasure, veggie, wit and awkward bugger – Morrissey has for decades occupied a unique and conflicting spot in the public’s consciousness. Furiously derided by some, passionately adored by everyone else, it sometimes seems he exists purely and simply to frustrate, cause debate, and split opinion.

His appearance at the Empire will have done nothing to change things.

In theory, a Morrissey concert should always be a spiritual event for fans, as well as being a master class in charm, power and style that will shock and awe any disbelievers into joining the worshiping throng.

Just think of the back catalogue he’s got to pick from! Classics… Everyday Is Like Sunday. Suedehead. The Last Of The Famous International Playboys. Timeless Smiths tunes too… There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. Shoplifters Of The World Unite. Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me.

Most bands would saw off their own fingers for the song titles alone.

But Morrissey concerts, while frequently

sublime, sometimes just don’t live up to their potential – and unfortunately his appearance in Liverpool was one of those occasions.

True, when the lights dimmed and a sparsely recorded piano tune slowly revealed itself to be You’ll Never Walk Alone, bringing euphoric roars of approval from the expectant battalion of fans, and Mozzer strode out with his band to kick the bejesus out of a bombastically revamped This Charming Man, you knew something special was happening.

True also, that when - four songs later – the unearthly How Soon Is Now? judders extraordinarily into life you are transfixed, transported, dumbstruck and in no doubt that the next four minutes of your life are going to be amazing.

Sadly, much of the other material he chooses to include serves only to highlight the material he chooses to omit (none of the aforementioned classics are aired) and cannot live up to these monumental highs. There are lulls, and then some longer ones.

Morrissey will undoubtedly return to Liverpool and conquer, yet let us hope it isn’t at The Empire. The staff refused to let anyone leave their seats and head for the front, treating a mature audience like children, and the traditionally celebratory mood was severely dampened as a result.

“Such a wonderful building, but absolutely no atmosphere,” grumbled our hero. “How does the mayor cope?”

Fair enough, Moz. But all you had to do was play Sheila Take A Bow. You know in your heart that would have sorted things out very quickly indeed.


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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

911WASANINSIDEJOBMay 11th 2009.

How come when people talk rubbish they always call themselves Anonymous ?

A&JMay 11th 2009.

i was here and me an my mate were the only people who got past the stupid staff and climbed over the bar and morrissey approoved!! he pointed and said finally some atmosphere here in liverpool tonight and as we got dragged out of the empire he walked off, quite a proud moment id say!

sal minnowMay 11th 2009.

you forget before Morrisey gay men were hunted by skinhead thugs and denied equal opportunitys.gay men had no voice but Morrisey gave them a meaning to life and such rich poetry. His lyrics are worth reading, such depth of feeling and original images he uses.Sure he is as old as Gary Glitter but Morrisey at least has never advocated seducing children or lusting after young boys.He is the greatest gay songsmith the world has ever produced.

Plastic BertrandMay 11th 2009.

Sorry, but to me The Smiths was just dreary student music in the eighties that was mass-adopted by conformists. The idea of a fifty-year-old man singing songs about adolescent insecurity I find rather unappealing.

sal minnowMay 11th 2009.

What a genius, underrated and the role model for millions of gay boys and girls everywhere. He deserves a knighthood for his brilliantly creative and original work.

SiobhanMay 11th 2009.

That the audience were not permitted to head for the front has nothing to do with the maturity of the audience, who were on the whole absolutely brilliant, but rather more to do with the licensing stipulations (based on health & safety considerations) of venues with seated auditoria.

LisaMay 11th 2009.

Great review, a fulsome report which gave a real flavour of the concert. More please

AnonymousMay 11th 2009.

Can't stand Morrissey. Completely overrated, pretentious get. People are wasting their time and money going along to indulge him.

SiobhanMay 11th 2009.

Hell of a rant for someone who is indifferent.

Cliff PilchardMay 11th 2009.

Morrisey ay? Everything I've heard from him seems to me dull repetitive depressing and identical just not something i could ever get anything from, I like a nice tune, you see rather than what to me sounded like a go nowhere dirge. I should confess, for a time when I heard people go on about Morrisey, I thought it was neil morrisey aka bob the builder aound the time he was with Michael Elphick in that programme about couriers Boon wasn't it? later of course men behaving badly and Bob the builder. But didn't he have a go as a pop star and crop up as sammy The chamois on noel Edmonds thing? You see that confused me. the use of just the surname. But i realised my mistake quickly. And although I think neil morrisey is good as Bob the Builder I think he is a crap actor so I could not see how he had devloped this devoted following. I then realised that the Morrisey some of my friends tried to talk about in such reverential tones was that miserable bugger with the bunch of flowers in his arse pocket. I really cannot see what the attraction was or is. I cannot believe the article comment that men exchanged knowing nods in pubs across town becuase they knew morrisey was in the city, unless Stanley is taking the extreme piss in the style of the new wave anti scouse rants that have attached themselves to almost every post tonight. (the sarcasm is an improvement on the abuse and offensive style btw) I don't know what it could possibly mean for morrisey to return and conquer Liverpool but the dnager in encouraging this kind of nonesense whereby we seek morriseey's view wonder how he would react behave as if we are in the presence of one of the great philosphers is why we have to put up with the likes of Bono appearing on stage with presidents to make speeches or Sting and the Rainforest and these pop stars i.e. 3 minute commercial money making industries start to believe their opinions are important to the world and it is perpetuated. Bono and Geldof are the conscience of the western world to tell all the naughty people what they should be doing to make things nice. Like love is the thing man war is bad. But at least you can hum some of their tunes whereas Morrisey makes me want to throw myself of a quiff. Is Morrisey the Consumer monkey from Reeves & Mortimer connected to him? but anyway Stanley, that bit about ;Furiously derided by some, passionately adored by everyone else, it sometimes seems he exists purely and simply to frustrate, cause debate, and split an onion. i think i have at least shown there are also thos who are just totally indifferent to him as an individual. if you like him fine but don't trey and convince us that his view is of any significance from his particular little showbiz bubble. and i would also like some empirical evidence about this stuff going on in the pubs. i have a feeling that you only actually went into the Head of Steam which since it is by the Empire, is more likely to have some of the fans in there for a pre concert drink. I don't think you actually checked other pubs or even did a ring round did you. Good luck to him anyway, i'd hate him to find out that he is not actually the major inluence on the world that he and his fan base think he is. isn't he a sort of Jamiroqui (?) on largactil?

A&JMay 11th 2009.

oh and were 19 year old girls! im sure the gangs of massive men that were at the gig could have out smarted the empire staff but no the audience was ****E!!! but morrissey was still amazing!

Cliff PilchardMay 11th 2009.

Siobhan, yes you are right it was hell of a rant but it was about more than just Morrisey, but about giving a strange kind of status to people that their contribution to the arts is so special that it divides us all. Anyway, after ranting on I You tubed about 15 videos of Morrisey very early and recent interviews and performances. It was quite sad to watch particularly early interviews and in spite of seeing how people could read arrogance into what he was saying, i could also see the vulnerability isolation and sadness which is no doubt why so many latched on to him and the image that no doubt struck a chord. that doesn't mean to say that I have changed my view of the music but I think I know understand why people the troubled angst ridden adolescents who followed him the Smiths and his music are still slightly in love. What did surprise me is that the image of him in my head as he is now was blown away by the fairly recent Jonathan Ross interview which either showed a carefully maintained characature of the young morrisey or that emotionally he is still the insecure angst ridden adolescent and that seems either creepy or sad i don't know which but at least i have tried to understand rather than dismiss. Bono and geldof on the other hand are a terminal pain in the arse.

Black-eyed SusanMay 11th 2009.

Outstanding gig, despite the efforts of the Empire. Truly appalling venue for a gig of this nature - the Royal Court was a thousand times better a couple of years ago. Anyone who knows anything about a Morrissey gig knows that the physical element is vital - having a moat the size of the Mersey between him and the crowd succeeds in removing the thing that makes them so special. Probably the promoter's fault, but I do hope he doesn't go back.

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