March 1, 2013
Originally slated to appear with Iggy and the Stooges, but ultimately rescheduled and substituted with Patti Smith, Morrissey easily sold out the Staples Center. The show seemed to be in jeopardy when various volleys were exchanged over whether meat would be served at the show. But all the drama fully subsided when Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy appeared onstage to introduce Morrissey, as the arena roared in approval.
In a dapper dress shirt and jeans, Morrissey crooned "Mama I'm a Singer!" before indulging the audience in the Smiths' classic "Shoplifters of the World, Unite." After being sidelined for a couple of months while battling ulcers and anemia, Morrissey returned with his lovely singing voice, which boomed throughout the arena.
Morrissey came out swinging as the band blasted into "Irish Blood, English Heart," with its storming guitars and hard-driving drums. Soft swells of synthesizer gave a floating feel to "Alma Matters," as Morrissey worked the front of the stage, occasionally reaching out to shake hands with the faithful.
Morrissey expertly navigated his discography by whipping through "You're the One for Me, Fatty," and then dipping far back for a tender version of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore." The energy level cranked up another notch with a rousing take on "Speedway," with Morrissey injecting a few lyrics from "Unloveable" by the Smiths.
Claiming he never watches the news, Morrissey lamented the extinction of the rhino and smoothly blamed Beyoncé and her handbags as the reason. The large projection screen soon showed images of animal abuse, and the lights took on a deathly shade of red during "Meat Is Murder." "Ouija Board, Ouija Board" also stood out, with its shuffling bongos and interesting echo on Morrissey's voice during the lyrics of "Hear my voice."
A storm of watery, tremolo guitars signaled the epic "How Soon Is Now?" as Jesse Tobias was adding extra sheets of guitar noise. The Smiths hits kept coming. An extra-slow take on "Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" had all the couples in the crowd embracing. Morrissey had the crowd in the palm of his hand, with "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "Let Me Kiss You" keeping everyone swooning.
A riot ensued when Morrissey took off his shirt and threw it into the front couple of rows. "First of the Gang to Die" had Morrissey finishing the song with gibberish vocals that only he can pull off. The encore consisted of the delightful "The Boy With a Thorn In His Side," as a stage invader barely made it to give Morrissey a hug. While Morrissey is often in the headlines for his controversial quotes, he conveys so much more while performing onstage.
While I would have loved to have seen Iggy and the Stooges destroy the stage, Morrissey's idol Patti Smith did a fine job and seemed to be having the time of her life while working through such familiar songs as "Dancing Barefoot" and "Because the Night."
Critical Bias: I bought the Smiths box set even though Morrissey recommended a boycott against it. Sorry, Morrissey.
The Crowd: Greasers, Goths, Mexicans and Morrissey fanatics abound.
Overheard In the Crowd: "Viva Morrissey!"
Random Notebook Dump: Joaquin Phoenix was one row down from me.
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"Irish Blood, English Heart"
"You Have Killed Me"
"You're the One for Me, Fatty"
"Action Is My Middle Name"
"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore"
"I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
"Meat Is Murder"
"Ouija Board, Ouija Board"
"November Spawned a Monster"
"To Give (The Reason I Live)"
"How Soon Is Now?"
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want"
"Everyday Is Like Sunday"
"Let Me Kiss You"
"First of the Gang to Die"
"The Boy With the Thorn In His Side"