Posted by: martinworster | April 4, 2008

84. MORRISSEY IN HOLLYWOOD

Morrissey lived in LA for the best part of ten years until only recently, so the place clearly has a special place in his heart. Similarly, Morrissey holds special sway over many Angelenos judging from tonight’s performance which was part of a run on nine – yes NINE – consecutive gigs at Hollywood’s Palladium. Not many artists could pull that off.

The Palladium is a lovely crumbling art deco theatre hall which has recently been purchased and is closing for a refit, so Mozza was the last performer to tread on it’s hallowed stage. Mozza also has a weird – and huge – Mexican fan base. Throughout his career Morrissey has always had a devoted verging on the idolatory fan base and it’s clear from the singalong crowd tonight that it doesn’t get more worshipful than on West Coast USA. I find it all rather odd. The Smiths occupy such a special niche in British pop culture who’s oeuvre is steeped in a dreary 80s Northern England cloak. It seems incongrous with the palm trees and eternal sunshine of California but he clearly has a profound connection with these people. Mozza talks of ‘trudging slowly over wet sand’ (‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’) in coastal towns they forgot to blow down – yet only 4 miles down the road the mighty blue Pacific glistens, lined with long legged fake titted and tanned lovelies. It’s an eternity from Salford circa 1982.

Mozza took to the stage looking portly, almost as if he’d been working out down the gym like every other Californian and his dog. It was a million miles from the wastrel, waif like Christ figure who pranced bare chested baring daffodils on Top of the Pops in the mid 80s. At the time – unlike most disaffected teenagers with long over coats, long faces and too much Dax gel in their high hairs – The Smiths kind of passed me by. I’m more of a retrospective fan and consider Morrissey one of the finest poets of recent pop history.

At times it felt like he could have done with the nimble fretwork of Johnny Marr to inject some extra juice into the tracks. But then considering the reunion fervor of late, the possibility of The Smiths reforming for a mega bucks stadium tour wouldn’t surprise me. Not that his backing band were rubbish, they were just adequate.

There also seems – along with Joy Division – a recent resurgence of interest in the sound and ideas of these bands. It must be something in the Manchester water. Morrissey as a lyricist almost has a Shakespearean talent for coming up with phrases and words that enter the popular cultural vernacular. Panic at the disco. Girlfriend in a coma. Hang The DJ. Stop me if you think you’ve heard this song before. Etc. Etc.

I only really knew the obvious tracks so at other times he started to resemble a bit of a crooner, swinging his mic around, snippets of abstract banter between songs. Everyone else in the Mexican dominated audience knew the words. He changed his shirt about five times, so we got to see an older, slightly pumper chest, in between him ducking the daffodils hurled from the crowd. Like Morrissey himself, it was slightly odd but very endearing. The 80s never left us – they just cheered up, put on weight and moved to the golden state.

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