Friday, April 01, 2005
So I had the slightly surreal and totally novel experience of watching Morrissey's 3-story tall frame swagger all over a movie screen the other night. It was the one and only Boston showing of "Who Put the 'M' in Manchester", his new live concert film that's out on DVD this Tuesday.
I debated checking it out, not just because it'd be rentable in a few days, but because I'm hardly the Moz fan I used to be. Granted, his latest album brought me nearer to the bandwagon, but my Smiths love was so strong that I've occasionally held the missing Mr. Marr against him. And his seemingly-rotating cast of faceless rockabilly-looking backing musicians has always kinda put me off. Well, not always... I did love Viva Hate and all it's b-sides. But I was so much younger then. ('Has the Moz changed or have I changed?').
I also find the idea of listening to Morrissey-penned songs in a group setting kind of, well, odd. His lyrics are so dependent on the listeners mood, sounding brilliant and personal on one listen, the laughable and over-the-top on another. It's all about where you're coming from at the time. And standing in the middle of a bunch of strangers, every one of them thinking that Moz might be singing to them, isn't necessarily the place I want to come from. Still, I knew his latest tour had lots of Smiths songs along with the newer stuff, and since I liked Quarry enough, I was game for the big screen experience. I also went out of a sense of obligation to my former self, the melancholy college freshman who played 'Hatful of Hollow' over and over and over again.
I got to the Boston Common theater just in time, and the place was packed. I honestly had no idea what to expect from the crowd, but the fans were out in force. The place went dark and immediately we were treated to a 'bonus' performance that won't be found on the DVD: Morrissey and the band performing 'How Soon Is Now?' at last year's Reading Festival. There he was, in front of massive red lit-up letters spelling out his own name, theatrical as always, in his full-on Elvis-meets-Eeyore glory. And y'know, even though I've heard that song far too many times, and it has long since lost any personal relevance or emotional impact, that live performance was pretty darn great, and got me psyched for more songs to come.
The film itself started off with a brief interview of a couple who'd traveled all the way from San Diego to this specially filmed 'homecoming' show in Manchester, which also happened to be on Mozzer's birthday ("I can't believe I'm 29" he says). From the interview we go to shots of Manchester old and new... run down factories and industrial decay, new office buildings, then fans making their way into the show at the Evening News Arena. All the while, something called 'The Imperfect List' is playing, a spoken word barrage of all things depressing and wrong ("...greed, jimmy swaggart, loneliness, jesse helms, aparthied, john lennon's murder, anyone's murder, rednecks..." etc, etc.) that was used to intro the shows on this tour. If there's one thing that the footage of run-down Manchester and that accompanying voiceover ensured, it was that you lose whatever 'up' mood you were in when you arrived to the theater; no matter what, you were gonna be in a Morrissey-style mood.
He comes out on stage in a blue jacket and jeans, and the first thing you notice is that there's something hanging from his crotch (a flower?... ah, that's right, this is the guy who wears hearing aids and nipple-bandaids in his videos). He also looks like he's in pretty good shape, and damn are his eyes super-blue up close. (Did they enhance 'em for the dvd?) Then 'The First of The Gang To Die' starts up, and it's immediately apparant that his voice is in great shape, too. Honestly, his voice sounded as good as ever through the entire set...
First of the Gang To Die
Hairdresser on Fire
Irish Blood, English Heart
The Headmaster Ritual *
Everyday Is Like Sunday
I Have Forgiven Jesus
I Know It�s Gonna Happen Someday
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
Rubber Ring *
Such a Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference
Don�t Make Fun of Daddy�s Voice
The World Is Full of Crashing Bores
Let Me Kiss You
No One Can Hold a Candle To You
Jack the Ripper
A Rush and a Push and the Land is Ours *
I�m Not Sorry
Shoplifters of the World Unite *
There is a Light That Never Goes Out *
Needless to say, my personal highlights were the five Smiths songs* (although 'A Rush and a Push...' was pretty sluggish) and the early solo stuff, but the rest of the material held up really well. Morrissey is nothing if not a performer, and where else can you find a guy whose moves include side-to-side horse-riding mic chord whipping, and theatrically checking his fingernails before waving off an imagined detractor. And y'know, I've got a newfound respect for his current backing band after spending a couple hours watching 'em... they're no longer the faceless interchangeable guys I'd seen them as. Having seen a whole Moz performance in that theater setting, I actually feel like I caught him on tour. I guess that's all you can really ask out of a live concert video, right?
Wow... any regret in not recording the Slint show a couple weeks back is completely washed away by this: Slint - live at the Cartonnerie, Reims, France, March 3rd 2005. The entire set available for download, and it sounds far better than I could have hoped to capture it. So, so psyched. (and thanks again for the tip, doug.)
Summer at Shatter Creek just started up a West Coast tour, so if you're out there, take a look at the schedule. Oh, and as if I didn't already have enough reason to despise the egotistical, so-hip-it-hurts bully 'writers' over at Pitchfork (Raposa excluded), they go and do this. That reviewer is not just, um, wrong, but sooo unnecessarily harsh. Someone should really just burn that website down and start from scratch. I mean, jeez, I wish they'd just stick to reporting news. It pains me to even link 'em.
For you bittorrent kids, there's been some great live stuff over on Easytree lately, including a couple old Replacements gigs, and a posting of the sounds-better-than-mine Unrest set from the Teenbeat anniversary thang. Very nice.
And this is most distinctly not nice. And I quote: "Sunday's season finale for "Carnivale" delivered an above-average 2.4 million viewers, but insiders insist the show is not likely to return." I so hope that those 'insiders' are talking outta their totally-wrong asses. If the amazing Carnivale gets cancelled, I'd feel about as let down by loose ends as I did after evil-Cooper asked "Where's Annie!?". Please, HBO, keep that brilliant show going. Seriously, you kept freakin' Arliss on for how long?
If you were a Boo Radley's fan (hell, even if you weren't), don't lose track of former singer Martin Carr, who's still releasing music under the monniker Brave Captain. Matter of fact, he's putting out a downloadable song-a-month this year, and they're only a British pound each (that's about $1.93 for us yanks). Boston tie-in: The March song is about local guy and Pills bassist/singer Corin Ashley, and was posted on his birthday. Hell of a present, huh?
The upcoming tour team-up of Rilo Kiley and Nada Surf has got me pretty excited, but I think I'll skip their Sunday, May 22nd show at Boston's Avalon, and instead travel up to Burlington, Vermont to catch them at Higher Ground the night before. A smaller club on a Saturday night, and in my hometown? Yes, please.
Good to hear things are still moving along for the planned Ride DVD. Can't wait to hold that in my hands.
Don't forget: This Monday, April 4th, the Wedding Present's Amsterdam tour stop will be broadcast live at Fabchannel. I caught the recent Arcade Fire broadcast there, and it both looked and sounded ace. The live-chat thing on the same screen was pretty cool, too... got to geek out with other fans during the show. See you in there on Monday afternoon, 3pm eastern time... and I sure hope work's not too busy around then for me.
A few great shows coming up here at TT the Bears in May: Matt Pond PA with Dear Leader and Certainly Sir on the 14th, Laetitia Sadier's Monade on the 18th (Stereolab fans shouldn't miss it), and David Bazan's electro-style Pedro The Lion offshoot Headphones on the next night, the 19th. Time to make a trip over for some tickets.
So I'm headin' up to Vermont on Sunday for a couple days of work, and so that I can catch this. I still don't believe this is happening... but my uncle Billy is going to get up on stage as part of this 'Comedy Battle' thing and do some stand-up (he's listed as 'Bill Torrey, a logger from West Bolton'). I mean, I don't think he's ever done anything quite like that in his life, although he's usually the funniest guy at our family get-togethers. And he always gives the best (and by 'best', I mean 'worst', but most amusing) anonymous gifts at our Christmas yankee swaps. Thereby ensuring that they're not really anonymous. So I know he can crack me up, and I'm really psyched to watch him do the same for a crowd. I'll be there, laughin' with and at him.
I can't let this post end without mentioning the death of former Crowded House and Split Enz drummer Paul Hester. His suicide last Saturday is so terrible, a tragic loss for the family and loved ones he's left behind, and sad news for old fans like me who liked the guy a lot. It wasn't just his drumming style, which was great, but he was just hilarious, the goofy member in the group, lightening up interviews and videos and live performances alike. I never knew of his struggles with depression, and it had been a long time since I'd thought or heard of him, but when I saw his name in the news, I instantly pictured him the way I always will, the smiling guy behind the drum kit. Read this article in the Sydney Morning Herald for some thoughts and words from his family and many friends. Such a shame he's gone.
In a couple days I'll be sharing up some live tracks and photos from this past Tuesday's fantastic Crooked Fingers set here in Boston. Next to the Teenbeat fest, easily the show of the year so far. And that's no joke...
live in cambridge, ma
on november 14th, 2008
previously: joy formidable - boston 2011
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