Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land
April 14, 2017
Before I begin, I must address the first thing I said to the Music Editor when he asked me if I would like to review the Morrissey show (and he was still the Music Editor): "I don't think that's such a good idea," I said. "It would be completely biased and one-sided." He told me that I should include that in the first paragraph of the review.
When someone brings up the idea of a Morrissey show, someone else is always there to say that he is going to cancel. He has performed in Houston five times in his nearly 30-year solo career; six if you count when he was a member of The Smiths, who performed at UH’s Cullen Auditorium in 1986.
But he has also canceled on Houston almost the same amount of times he has performed.
First was October 28, 2004 at Verizon Wireless Theater (now Revention Music Center) due to strained vocal chords. Beaumont is not Houston, but that was as close as he came to Houston the last time. The original date for Beaumont was December 2, 2012, later postponed to February 16, 2013 and pushed again to April 12, 2013. He finally appeared in person on May 25, 2014, more than two years after the original date.
I am constantly asked how I have remained so devout all these years after all of those canceled shows and postponements. It is a complicated answer, but I think Morrissey said it best himself in the December 1992 issue of Details: "I think admiring me, shall we say, is quite a task. Because if you say you like Morrissey, then you have to explain why."
Morrissey Houston Concert History
1991: Kill Uncle Tour, Southern Star Amphitheater (Six Flags AstroWorld)
1992: Your Arsenal Tour, The Summit
2007: Greatest Hits Tour, Verizon Wireless Theater
2009: Tour of Refusal, Jones Hall
2014: World Peace is None of Your Business Tour, Julie Rogers Theater (Beaumont)
Fans woke the day before Friday's show — already twice postponed from November and December of last year — to the announcement that the venue had changed from White Oak Music Hall to the new Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land. This made most Morrissey fans even more skeptical, especially with the San Antonio show canceling the night before. The fear remained: Would the show go on... or not?
The answer was yes.
Morrissey's World Peace Is None Of Your Business Tour is on its third year, has touched ground 32 different countries, and listed Sir Cliff Richard, Blondie, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Tom Jones as openers. Even as they filled the seats of Smart Financial Centre, one thing was still clear: fans didn't want to believe he was going to perform until they saw him walk out on to the stage. As they waited, the stage backdrop displayed videos of the original sources for well-known album artwork, such a clip of 1964 French film L'Insoumis (The Unvanquished) used for The Smiths' The Queen is Dead, plus other images associated with the Sex Pistols, Public Enemy, and others. Then Klaus Nomi's “Wayward Sisters” played and the lights went out.
Morrissey and crew walked onstage to an eruption by the crowd, who were obviously pleased to see all of their doubts and fears disappear as their hero finally appeared in the flesh. The band were all outfitted in shirts that had "Fuck Trump" emblazoned across the chest. Morrissey simply said, "I am at your mercy" and the show started with “How Soon is Now?”, a Smiths song from 1985's Meat is Murder. Two more Smiths songs would be heard before the show was over, proving that Morrissey doesn't need to reunite the band to perform their songs.
Morrissey looked well-rested and belted out tracks from ten different albums, going all the way back to his debut Viva Hate. He seemed in good spirits, too, speaking to the crowd throughout the show. First, about the venue, he said, "When they switched the venue at first I thought they said I would now be playing at Smart & Final,” referring to the California supermarket chain, "and I was actually really excited." Could our Morrissey be as excited as the crowd was to see it all playing out as planned?
He later explained what happened in Tucson days before, saying that his voice "finally broke which happens to all adolescents”; he said he wondered what might break next. After “Speedway,” he seemed to try to help us all cope with all we had been going through regarding this very show. "Thank you for your patience,” he said. “I know this night has messed you around for six months it's the universe; the universe is out of balance but we're here now so I will, uh, I will, I will shut it."
Images of Bruce Lee, Diana Dors, boxer Rocky Graziano and more were all projected onto the backdrop during the 20-song set. Fog filled the stage during “Jack the Ripper,” hiding Morrissey and providing silhouettes for beautiful fan photos. Random police-brutality videos screened during “Ganglord”; If you looked close enough, you might have noticed the caption (from our local news affiliate) "ABC13 KTRK EXCLUSIVE" during surveillance footage of teen Chad Holley. Afterward, Morrissey spoke about the TSA, where "sexual assult is legal,” he cracked, referring to a 2015 incident at San Francisco International Airport after which he said the organization's initials stood for "Thorough Sexual Assault," stating that "the penis and testicles were mine and no one else's."
A photo of Morrissey holding a baby President Trump was displayed during “Shoplifters of the World Unite,” one of the few Smiths songs that actually has a guitar solo in it. He sang "Trump-shifters of the world, unite and take over,” making the 30-year-old song relevant to the current state of our nation. Morrissey left the stage after ripping off his shirt during “Let Me Kiss You,” and the crowd of course went wild. The band continued and followed him offstage after the song was finished, before all returning after a moment for Morrissey address the crowd again.
"Thank you for listening,” he said. “Thank for staying. You've been very kind; very chivalrous, and I am very grateful.” The band played a cover of the Ramones’ “Judy is a Punk” and Morrissey said one final goodbye: ”So we will go now…buh-bye."
The Morrissey show everyone wasn't sure would ever happen was over.
The Crowd: A salt-and-pepper mix of all ages. I stood next to a pair of teenage sisters who sang every word to every single song.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Morrissey! Take off your clothes!"
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Random Notebook Dump: I was correct on two things last month:
1. Morrissey will grace the stage and change your life forever on Friday, April 14.
2. Morrissey has still got it.
How Soon is Now? (Smiths song)
Every Day is like Sunday
World Peace Is None of Your Business
Jack the Ripper
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
The Bullfighter Dies
There is a Light That Never Goes Out (Smiths song; introduced as "The Fetus Belongs to the Woman")
The First of the Gang to Die
Kiss Me a Lot
You're the One For Me, Fatty
Shoplifters of the World Unite and Take Over (Smiths song)
When Last I Spoke to Carol
Let Me Kiss You
Judy is a Punk (Ramones cover)