Tropical Storm Morrissey blew through Jones Hall Saturday night, leaving a full house of hyperventilated fans - never more so than when, during "Let Me Kiss You," he removed his shirt to reveal an enviable set of abs - and more than a few moist eyes in its wake; after the show, Aftermath looked around and saw several people sobbing in their seats, too overcome to exit immediately. Then there were the security minders who had to have been either bemused or annoyed by all the people who kept running onstage.
Even never having seen Moz before, Aftermath knew to expect a certain amount of camp, and he certainly got it. Besides the whole shirt-removal thing - which also supplied a moment of unintentional comedy when it got stuck in its route from Morrissey's torso to the ravenous audience hands clamoring to render it to shreds - Morrissey wielded the microphone cord like Indiana Jones' whip, and really worked the Tom Jones/Vegas angle to the hilt when he asked various people in the front row "Where are you from?" (Answers: Southern California, "Texas," Mexico City... people will travel for this guy.)
Musically, Morrissey's five-piece band - featuring a guitar corps of longtime associate Boz Boorer and Austin-born Jesse Tobias, a Red Hot Chili Pepper for half a second in the mid-'90s - delivered a muscular, near-metallic power-rock sound in the neighborhood of Moz's longtime heroes the New York Dolls or the Stooges. While their muscular, relentless assault worked well for the material from Morrissey's latest album Years of Refusal, especially "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" and closer "I'm OK By Myself," it tended to overwhelm some of the airier Smiths songs in the set (opener "This Charming Man," "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others") and obscure a few of the lyrical barbs in earlier solo efforts like "The World Is Full of Crashing Bores" and "Sorry Doesn't Help."
Still, the Iggy Pop treatment gave "How Soon Is Now?" new life, with Matt Walker pounding away on the symphony-orchestra bass drum beside him, and the band's racket couldn't obscure the melodic genius behind "Ask" or sole encore "The First of the Gang to Die." Overall, it was a show worth losing your shirt - or your shit - for.
[Note: see more pictures from the show here.]
This Charming Man
How Soon is Now?
Irish Blood, English Heart
When Last I Spoke to Carol
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
Something is Squeezing My Skull
Seasick, Yet Still Docked
The World is Full of Crashing Bores
Death of a Disco Dancer
Best Friend on the Payroll
I Keep Mine Hidden
Sorry Doesn't Help
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Let Me Kiss You
I'm OK By Myself
Encore: First Of The Gang to Die