"Polarizing," "love him or hate him," "no middle ground"--all pretty vague, cliche terms, and all rather accurate when it comes to Morrissey.
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People who don't like him--"too mopey," "too fey," "too insistent on retaining his signature pompadour at the age of 50"--will never get it, and those who do like him, like him a whole lot. The latest piece of evidence is the above video, from this past Thursday night at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Midway into his sole encore number, the LA-referencing "First of the Gang to Die," fans brazenly jump on stage in an attempt to sneak a hug from Moz--as seen in the 1995 "Will Never Marry" montage and countless live shows in between.
It's been a year of ups-and-downs for the former Smiths singer. His ninth solo album, Years of Refusal, was excellent, but no one much cared other than his aforementioned feverishly dedicated fanbase. Then there was that whole bottle-throwing thing. Still, Morrissey returning to his former home of Southern California will always be big deal (he's playing Wednesday night at the Gibson Amphitheater in LA, too), but tickets for tonight's Pomona show are, puzzlingly, still available as of this writing--provided it indeed happens, following the cancellation of this past Saturday's Indio show. He's touring behind his second release of the year, the for-the-diest-of-die-hards-only, latter-career b-sides compilation Swords, so expect some of that material, such as "Teenage Dad on His Estate" and "Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice;" names that, admittedly, sound like they were concocted in a Random Morrissey Song Title Generator.
Wow, we made it through an entire write-up on Morrissey without any cutesy references to his lyrics or using the term "vastly influential." Your prize: this Smiths lyrics quiz.