It takes a bit of courage sometimes to go and see your idols in person.
After one invests so much energy and adoration, the fear that they won't
live up to personal expectations can eclipse all other emotions.
Since the mid-80s my favourite band has been the Smiths , and my favourite singer/songwriter their enigmatic frontman Morrissey. Since the Smiths toured very infrequently, i never got the chance to see them before they broke up in 1989. Wednesday night at Shinjuku's Liquid Room i finally got to see Morrissey perform solo.
I describe Morrissey as enigmatic bacause in many ways he is the antithesis of the pop star. Success, money, drugs, or groupies never held any interest for this infamous resident of Manchester. Hypersensitive to the people and occurences around him, he is a recluse who reportedly spends much of his time alone reading.
His songs plumb the depths of his feelings - themes of loneliness, despair, awkwardness and unrequited love surface again and again. Before they got too personal, though, witty, clever, sardonic lines keep the author at a safe distance.
This tour came on the heels of Morrissey's new release "Southpaw Grammar". Of his four solo LPs and dozens of singles, it is the hardest rocking and most musically accomplished. Morrissey smiled and greeted the audience as he took the stage on Wednesday, dressed in an elegant white dress shirt and blue blazer. Although reportedly hospitalised for depression only a week ago in England, he was well up for the show.
He immediately launched into an upbeat rendition of "Do your best and don't worry" followed by two more from the new album "Reader meet Author" and "Boy Racer". It bacame apparent this was the tour to see him, as this new material held up so well in front of a live audience.
The band sounded good - tight, fast and loud. And Morrissey sounded great ; he's come a long way from the initial Smiths recordings. He hit the highs with relish and refrained from snarling the lyrics, as he is sometimes wont to do.
One of the most fascinating things to see during the show was how Morrissey interacted with the audience. From the first song, he was grasping hands, stepping down off the stage, and actually helping frenzied fans to get up on stage.
All night men and women leapt up to embrace their hero. Although two roadies were employed to gently escort them off stage, Morrissey always allowed himself to be hugged first, sometimes hugging back.
Rather than consider them a necessary evil needed to buy tickets and CDs, Morrissey really cares for his fans. He not only feeds off their love, he seems to need it. It's as if he turns to them for reafirmation that he is not baring his soul in vain.
After a couple of more new songs, Morrissey thrilled the crowd by breaking into "London" , a short, fast Smiths number about escaping from Northern England. Solo performers usually refuse to do songs from past associations, but Morrissey seems happy to keep the Smiths alive.
He finished out the set with the whimsical "You're the one for me Fatty", "Speedway", the 10-minute "The teachers are afraid of the pupils" and a rocking version of "National Front Disco". Before the last song he stripped off his sweatdrenched shirt, wiped his brow, and tossed it into the crowd.
For an encore he did "Suedehead", his most identifiable single, and "Shoplifters of the world unite" another great Smiths single. Finally the tall singer bowed deeply to the crowd, thanked us, and waved goodbye. It was a great performance , and he seemed as uplifted as we were after giving it.
My fears were all for naught. I have to say Morrissey surpassed all my expectations.
Morrissey certainly has his share of detractors. Many accuse him of whining, of being frivolous, or being a prima donna. These things may be true, but then again there's no one quite like him.
from the Japan Times