Morrissey Returns To Play Hometown

MEN Arena, Manchester
May 22, 2004
It's hard to know what the ingredients are for making a massive comeback, but Morrisey certainly seems to have them.

Tonight's show at the 14,000 seat MEN arena in Manchester sold out in an hour, his album's in the top ten and he's possibly done more interviews in the past week than he's done in the whole of his career!

This is a special show however, it's the first time he's played Manchester since 1992. It's a bit of a homecoming show, and the anticipation and atmosphere
is immense.The crowd is a mixed bunch, ranging from the guys in front of me
who look like refugees from either The Scissor Sisters or The Strokes. There's the groups of shaven headed footie fans pushing forward with obligatory pints of beer, and then there's the middle aged couples out to relive a few memories.

The arena fills up pretty fast and not much later the lights go down and
Morrisey walks on. 'Morrisey' is spelt out in huge Elvis-come-back-special lights, the bulbs produce a warm glow and on either side of the stage two large screens show Morrisey in close up, for this televised event. The stage set is fairly sparse, and his smartly dressed band have plenty of room to move about, in fact the whole set up has the feel of a well lit TV studio.

He breaks into a few bars of 'My Way' and then Launches into 'First of The Gang to Die' a song from his recently released album 'You Are The Quarry'. It's a measure of the crowd (and Morrissey) tonight that even new material has everyone singing along, it's a momentum that continues through out the show.

The set is a mix of Smiths and solo Morrissey stuff and some very new material plus a very obscure cover thrown in, 'If you'll just indulge me in this cover from the 80's' is how he introduced a song which he preferred to let the audience guess at, 'No it's not Spandau Ballet!' he retorts to one of the guesses. (Turns out to be a song by singer called Raymonde). Definitely not a highlight of the show, but there are some sublime peaks, such as Everyday is Like Sunday, Headmaster Ritual and A Rush and a Push and The land is Ours'.

However the new stuff still manages to hold its own with tracks like 'Irish Blood, English Heart' and 'The World is Full of Crushing Bores' looking like they have mileage beyond the buzz of the first hearing.

The show draws to a close with 'Shoplifters of the World' (with guitarist Alan Whyte strapping on a flying v guitar to grind out that great heavy metal refrain).

However it is the encore that will stick in the memory for some time; the lights come back up rather aptly for 'There is a light that never goes out'.
Morrissey is singing and so are 14,000 people, they are standing up and every word and note is sung, it's like a cup final and new year's eve celebration rolled into one. It is also a definite hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment.

It's an encore that can't possibly be topped "You've made a happy man very old" Morrissey quips before heading off into the night. It's also Morrissey's birthday, Manchester United have won the FA Cup and oh yes, it was hot and sunny outside.

All in all a great day for Mancunians and Morrissey fans.

Writer: Pete Doherty

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