At exactly 8:32 (as promised) on 27th March 2015, Morrissey came on stage at a meat-free Barclaycard Arena.
Kicking off with ‘The Queen is Dead’, Morrissey was on form; whipping his mic lead as he strutted around the stage in front of an image of the Queen with both middle fingers raised. This was the first time I’d seen him live and I wasn’t disappointed, I went with my mate who has seen him loads of times before and he agreed that this was the best he’s sounded in a long time. His voice was as smooth as melted dairy-free cheese and he had presence and energy on stage which had the audience hooked.
His songs from the latest album ‘World peace is none of your business’ merged seamlessly with some of his older classics with some Smiths thrown in for good measure, which of course he kept the die-hard fans suitably satisfied. He got the mix right. Too often these legendary artists can forget why people fell in love with them in the first place, and the Birmingham crowd were definitely loving Morrissey – chanting of his name and a roar of cheers when in ‘What she said’ he changed the words to “…it took a tattooed boy from Birmingham to really open her eyes” later in the set.
Now, I can’t write this review without mentioning ‘Meat is Murder’... Morrissey’s earlier promise of “easy entertainment” suddenly made a lot of us feel a bit uneasy, as graphic and quite overwhelming images of slaughter houses and dairy farms appeared on screen. The crowd was silent, I’m not sure if this was shock or the sheer awe at Morrissey. I’m not overly squeamish & with merch being sold on the concourse that said “Be kind to animals or I’ll kill you – Morrissey” something like this wasn’t really unexpected, but either way he definitely made the crowd sit up and take notice.
Never one to shy away from controversy we had digs at the monarchy from the start, Morrissey voiced his disappointment with his beloved Ireland not banning fur farming. And of course he shared his views on the upcoming election, declaring “They don’t like you”, leaving the audience thinking he’s probably right.
Now don’t get me wrong it wasn’t all politics and vegetarian propaganda, seriously this man can sing! The crowd were bouncing around like they were teens at a McBusted concert, with everyone around us singing along. A run of his newer songs included title track ‘World Peace Is None of Your Business’, as well as ‘Istanbul’, surprisingly chirpy ‘Kiss Me a Lot’ and ‘Neal Cassady Drops Dead’, Morrissey captivating the crowd, his energy never lagging.
Other highlights included ‘Stop Me…’ probably the song which first introduced me to The Smiths, ‘I’m not a man’ and ‘Speedway’. I’m not sure if any of Morrissey’s songs really class as light hearted but ‘Every day Is Like Sunday’ was a fitting finale, in which he ripped his shirt off & threw it into the crowd (and I immediately regretted not getting standing ticket) as fans scrambled to the front to shake his hand. The voice, the passion, the persona, the energy, Morrissey has still got it.
A cross between a gig and a PETA rally; the visuals weren’t for squeamish but if you can get past that it was amazing! Even if you’re not a Morrissey fan go and see him, you’ll be converted (and quite possibly converted to vegetarianism too). In my top 10 gigs of all time.
Reviewed by Hannah Wood