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Volume 35
Issue 19
 
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Morrissey in excellent form at the Paramount Theatre
Morrissey in excellent form at the Paramount Theatre
by Jessica Browning - SGN A&E Writer

Morrissey
May 6 @ Paramount Theatre

I have said it before, but it still rings true. Every time Morrissey comes to Seattle it feels like a very special privilege indeed. The British pop icon visited the Paramount Theatre last Sunday, and all day I felt the pull of an old excitement once again. With it came a little nervousness as well - Morrissey, soon to be 48, is only human after all. He's had some less-than-perfect moments in the span of his eight or nine solo recordings and live performances. Even so, Morrissey's 'less than perfect' moments are still far and away more creative and lively than most humorless alt-pop pedaled by younger models every day.

Devotees of The Smiths, though often snickered at and thought to be melodramatic bores, have grown up and out of their awkward stages and are a fascinating, unique, and very good-looking bunch. Before the show, concertgoers wandered around the lobby packed with many others that at one point or another, found a connection in the music and lyrics of this groundbreaking English group. The excitement was palpable, so much so that I completely missed the set from opener Kristeen Young while people-watching. Luckily, I got to my seat in time to catch a good portion of the pre-performance video footage.

Ordinarily, Morrissey selects classic glam and English punk tracks to play prior to each set; the handpicked video clips this time around were another refreshing look into the star's personal favorites. Stylistically, Morrissey has stayed true to his own fandom over the years. British comediennes, very cute wardrobe tests starring heartthrob James Dean, British rockabilly TV clips, and Brigitte Bardot songs were projected onto the curtained stage. When the curtain finally dropped, a huge doubled picture of an impassioned James Dean served as the backdrop.

Wasting no time, "The Queen Is Dead" set the tone for the first half of the evening. The touring band this year consists of longtime guitarist Boz Boorer, guitarist Jess Tobias, keyboardist/trumpeter Michael Farrell, bassist Solomon Walker and drummer Matt Walker. All wore matching brown and tan outfits, perhaps a nod to the pop groups of the 50s and 60s featured in some of the aforementioned clips. Morrissey himself was looking trimmer than his last Seattle appearance, dressed sharply in black trousers and a blue shirt and tie.

Leading his band through a fast-paced set, Moz whipped the mic cord and gestured in his usual way. "The Last of the Gang To Die", "The Youngest Was The Most Loved", and "You Have Killed Me" showcased chugging guitars. "Lucky Lisp" and the gorgeous "I've Changed My Plea to Guilty" were cinematic and lovely. It was touching how well the audience responded and sang along to each tune. At the end of "Disappointed", as on the original recording, when Moz sang "this is the last song I will ever sing&" cheeky cries of "noooooo!" rang out in perfect time.

Always a gracious gentleman, when wayward fans tried to rush the stage to hug him, Moz was able to disentangle with ease and politeness. Sadly, halfway through the Smiths classic "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side", the singer abruptly stopped the band and commented that he couldn't hear himself. While the stagehands adjusted some things at the soundboard, Morrissey bantered with the audience and asked one diehard fan what she would like to hear. When she replied "just more of your beautiful voice", he joked that perhaps someone ought to put on one of his CDs.

During "The National Front Disco" and also during "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" I had my special moment of reflection, the type of moment I realize everyone in the audience must have had at some point. It's the reason people still buy Morrissey records and faithfully come out to see him in a live setting. No, he's never been on the cover of Rolling Stone (a crime, in my opinion); but everyone has their own special relationship with this particular entertainer. It's a very personal, heartfelt, and mutual admiration. It almost makes you remember the youthful hope that the awkward days of being an outsider would melt away and you'd grow up to be a smashing success at whatever life might hold. Few entertainers are able to touch their audience so personally, and to deliver such an emotional, powerful connection with wit and intelligence. Truly, there is no one like him.

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