Morrissey fans have probably been reading the same headlines all morning after last night’s tour kickoff show at the City National Civic in San Jose: “Three new songs” and “Show stopped due to overzealous hugging.” I hope I can fill in a few blanks.
This was my first Morrissey concert so I can’t judge it based on any golden age, but Ol’ Mossy (that’s what fans call him) sounded fantastic and looked younger and fitter than I expected. It could just be because charismatic people naturally look better in person, but he looked ten years younger onstage than recent photos would imply.
The performance was fantastic. The setlist was… you know how he released that “Greatest Hits” thing and it was almost all from the 2000s? The man prefers his recent material, so don’t expect a barn-burning Smiths greatest hits power hour. Highlights for the older crowd included “Everyday (sic) Is Like Sunday,” “Hand in Glove,” a fantastic “National Front Disco” and an unlikely wishlist cut for the real heads, “Trouble Loves Me” from Maladjusted. We also got “Meat is Murder” with accompanying gruesome PETA footage, soooo, hey, cool, that’s a Smiths song…
Make no mistake: he still slew with later-career numbers. “Life is a Pigsty” drove the crowd about as wild as a song with that title could.
We got three new tracks, all of them good. “World Peace is None of Your Business” had me worried at the start, but it’s compelling enough to bust through the slightly preachy veneer. There was one about a bullfighter dying that sounded a little like an early b-side, which is a high compliment — it also let him condemn animal cruelty without alienating the crowd with joyless material. (On the plus side, I got 20 paces closer to the front during the mass “Meat is Murder” bathroom break). “Earth is the Loneliest Planet” was my favorite of the three.
And as for the much publicized, TMZ-reported (!) crowd rush: Fans were making minor attempts throughout; a few guys got on for a quick hug, but there was a Marine-looking meathead (sorry — murderhead) stalking the right of the stage for most of the set, tossing successful interlopers back into the pit and intimidating the shit out of would-bes. Morrissey seemed to love the attention, and he was eager to requite the fans’ love however he could, but shit eventually got too nuts.
During the encore, Moz rushers starting climbing up faster than security could swat them down. I couldn’t see too clearly in the chaos, but our hero was allegedly tackled to the ground. I don’t know whether it was nervous security or a ruffled Morrissey who stopped the show, but the sudden arrival of house lights and piped-in music let us know there wouldn’t be a second chance.
The good news is that the set was called off close to the end, so we got most of a show. The bad news is that we don’t know how he would have ended the set. I doubt he would have left Smiths fans hanging.
When I got outside, street vendors were selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs. C’mon, guys.
Verdict: Worth the price; definitely buy tickets if he comes to your town. Rush the stage TASTEFULLY, please. Don’t overwhelm security, or they’ll stop the show.