Category Archives: Morrissey

Morrissey @ The Fox Theater, Visalia CA 08/29/15

Morrissey in Visalia. To paraphrase what a writer for the south valley’s own Lifestyle Magazine had written: in Visalia, “culture is on the rise.” Personally, as a fan, the best parts of the evening were witnessing performances of beloved songs like “Suedehead” and “Stop Me If You think You’ve Heard This One Before” and shaking hands with guitarist Boz Boorer outside the venue. After our dinner at the wonderously yummy Little Italy (it’s all about the red sauce), we sat at a nearby bench across the street from The Fox and chatted while the line at the doors progressed. The place was a sell out and it was cool to see a crowd like that downtown, the locals driving along Main Street, rubbernecking to see who’s headlining in little ol’ Visalia. A man quickly walked by rather unassumingly, hands in pockets, head down. I looked over and recognized that it was Boz Boorer. I turned over to the wife and said “holy shit, that’s one of his guitarists!” She replied “Only you could recognize him.” 🙂  I caught up to him and got his attention. All I asked was if he minded if I shook his hand. He smiled and said ‘sure!’ with that charming Brit accent. I wished him a good show and he continued on his way, a lady recognizing him (her eyes got super big) as he quickly strolled by.

This was one of the hottest shows ever, temperature-wise. There were plenty of out of towners from the Bay Area I believe, unprepared for the valley heat and the muggy conditions inside the venue, especially in the upper balcony. We were sweating up a storm. It was very uncomfortable, leading to frustrated and impatient concert goers. Sweaters and hoodies were quickly peeled off, some of the guys wiping their foreheads with their sleeves or their outerwear. There were sour faces left and right. It was so uncomfortable that we left immediately after “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” the somewhat cooler outdoor air being a welcomed relief in comparison to the sauna in the balcony. It was a special treat to see the Mozfather in my hometown, it’s just too bad it was so damned hot and the set was a little lackluster. I was so hoping that the set would be heavier with more celebrated material, “Suedehead” as an opener got us going but the momentum never quite returned to that level of awesomeness. There were definitely some noteworthy and enjoyable moments, such as Gustavo’s solo pieces on lead vox, classical guitar and brass throughout the set. Boz also performed parts on Oboe and snare drum. Newer material like Istanbul, The Bullfighter Dies, World Peace is None of Your Business, Kiss Me Alot, and People are the Same Everywhere went over well – Much of the newer material was definitely strong, but fans (especially Valley fans) are going to expect the classics, the popular, the “old” stuff. And to be fair, playing the “old” stuff doesn’t make an artist a nostalgic act (I think Morrissey is desperately trying to avoid that label). Good music is good music, regardless of year or era. But unfortunately for us, we got ONE Smiths song in the first 15 selections. And in between those selections were a bunch of new songs, a Waylon Jennings cover (which was actually pretty good), a b-side, and a couple Morrissey classics, but not exactly the cream of the crop. I love “Speedway,” but if the drums aren’t played like Spencer Cobrin played them on Introducing Morrissey, then it’s not the real “Speedway!” Anyways, I’m very happy we were able to see the Man in my hometown, just 10 minutes away from my house. About “Suedehead,” the group performed a very faithful rendition with strong singing from Morrissey. Don’t you just hate it when a classic is played half-assed? Not “Suedehead.” It Jangled and thumped along, with a cool and aggressive guitar tone from Jesse Tobias. Gustavo played the keyboard parts true to the studio original, and Boz and the rhythm section fleshed out the rest of the instrumentation while Morrissey smoothly delivered his lines.

Even though it was hot as Hell, it was still cool to see people on their feet, some arm in arm, singing along to “it was a gooood lay, gooood lay, ah-ahhhhh.” Indeed. Morrissey was talkative and regularly addressed the audience, pronouncing VISALIA with a short ‘i’ and an ‘ah’, as in Vih-sahlia, but I don’t think anyone cared. At the end of ‘Hank Done It This Way,’ Moz informed the crowd that the previous song was written by a great American, a lady in the back of the orchestra section yelled out “Waylon Jennings!” to Morrissey’s delight. Thanks to Sound N Vision Foundation, Rainmaker Productions and Choices for making this gig happen. It’s a soothing thought to think that culture is on the rise in the Central Valley, Visalia in particular. There’s a dredg song called “18 People Living In Harmony,” which is kind of a sad story about the death of art, music and culture – the chorus going ‘…Rents are rising, our lease is up, culture is down.’ It’s comforting that maybe our neck of the woods won’t suffer that kind of fate so long as promoters are willing (and can afford) to bring high caliber talent to our area. So glad to see the Pope of Mope an additional occasion before he retires.

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Morrissey @ The Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 06/10/07

WOW. After three years of waiting I finally get to see the man, the legend. In case anyone’s wondering, Bakersfield is a quasi-metropolis that rests at the southern most point of the Central Valley, California. It’s a gateway to the Grapevine and the Los Angeles Basin.. It’s dry with an unending brownish landscape. It’s cheap real estate and low key and hot as Hell, not too different from Fresno, California. And an artist like this coming to the area is like a sorely needed breath of fresh air.

Very few big name acts visit this area. So when I heard Morrissey would be gracing the Central Valley with his presence I practically tripped over myself for tickets. He played the Rabobank Theater, a newer venue with 3-4,000 capacity. Place was almost sold out, but featured a very diverse and vocal crowd. There were a lot of youngsters in the crowd as well, children to lifelong fans. Some of the young boys sported the rockabilly greaser look, too cool. Morrissey mentioned seeing many children in the audience, saying “…and they’re ALL miiiiiine.” 🙂 The legendary Julia was also at this show, Morrissey even let her speak into the mic from the front row. I always thought that woman was made up, but no, she’s real, and has probably attended every Morrissey show in existence. Great crowd, awesome performance. Voice was in fine form and there were plenty of stage crashers. Glad I caught this one. This is an act to see before you die. Ah yes, FIVE Smiths songs were featured including the immortal “How Soon is Now?” My personal favorite that night was “The Boy With a Thorn In His Side” and I’m not ashamed to admit that I got misty eyed. That baby hasn’t been performed regularly since the end of the Smiths in 1986. It’s not uncommon for fans to say things like “Morrissey saved me” or “The Smiths saved me.” Morrissey and his music have long been champions of the misunderstood, the losers, misfits and the disabled. He speaks to those who’ve been ignored and shunned, making the audience’s connection to him rather messianic. Afterall, some of his nicknames include The Mozfather, The Pope of Mope and St. Morrissey. The music is magical – dreamy sounding britpop with rockabilly thrown in. Add emotional (and often morose and depressing) lyrics and you have music that is uniquely aching, uniquely beautiful.

The band was killer, spot on. However I was disappointed that guitarist Alain White, bassist Gary Day and drummer Dino Butterworth were no longer with the touring band. Those guys along with Boz Boorer (second guitar) and Mikey Farrell (keys) made up what I considered the second classic Morrissey lineup. That’s the lineup that’s documented on the Who Put the ‘M’ in Manchester DVD. Musicians come and go, but missing those three particular musicians is like missing family members or old friends. There is a fondness for that particular line-up, much like there was a fondness for the original incarnation of the Morrissey band with Spencer Cobrin on drums. Now the second classic lineup has been scattered. THEY were the Morrissey band during his comeback era. Newcomers Jesse Tobias, Solomon and Matt Walker rounded out the live band for this tour and would stay on for subsequent tours, however Farrell would eventually part ways with Morrissey to pursue work as a producer and song writer in LA, leaving Boz Boorer the only veteran from the early days of Morrissey’s solo career.

First of the Gang To Die
Last of the Famous International Playboys
You Have Killed Me
In the Future When All is Well
Disappointed
Let Me Kiss You
That’s How People Grow Up
National Front Disco
Ganglord
Girlfriend in a Coma
Everyday is Like Sunday
The Boy With a Thorn In His Side
Irish Blood English Heart
All You Need is Me
You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side
I Just Want to See the Boy Happy
Lucky Lisp
Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
I’ve Changed My Plea to Guilty
How Soon is Now?
The Queen is Dead

Morrissey @ The Rabobank Theater, Bakersfield CA 05/12/12

Sigh….what started out as a thunderous show quickly turned into a big “what the heck?” kind of experience. This was our second occasion seeing the British Elvis, The Mozfather, The Pope of Mope, The Miserable One, etc., and although the voice was in fine form, actually it was in superb form…and I’ve probably written it before, but his voice has aged like a fine wine and the man’s still “got it.” He’s lost a lot of weight and looks leaner as well. Anyway, although he sounded great, the song selections left much of the crowd scratching their heads or yawning. The first 6 or so songs lit a fire under the theater crowd. But everything after that, save for a few classics, made for a very confusing concert. Richard Blade, a DJ for satellite radio said it best – why would an artist with a wealth of great material play 10 or so b-sides, covers and obscure songs you’ve probably never heard? Maybe it’s ego. But anyway, great singing, great performance by the band, 3rd row seats, crappy setlist.

We left during what we thought was the last song of the night, The Smith’s Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me. It’s not my favorite Smiths Song and we were more interested in avoiding the traffic congestion…and Morrissey NEVER plays a second encore. I was dismayed to later hear that the band tore into an even better Smiths song, Still Ill, for the final song of the set. BUT…the group abandoned the stage half way through the song when 5 overzealous security staff pounced on a stage crasher. Morrissey said something like “5 security on one person…too macho, too macho, too macho,” and he stormed off the stage, with guitarist Boz Boorer giving the signal to kill the show. Whoa. It’s Morrissey culture that fans attempt to invade the stage during the encore to embrace and kiss the singer (men too). There’s a famous video filmed in 1995 (Introducing Morrissey) where 2 dozen or so fans successfully crash the stage and hug on the singer during “Speedway.” The phenomenon stuck ever since. Unfortunately, tonight’s rendition of “Speedway” was very anticlimactic. Ordinarily, “Speedway” is a rockin’ showstopper. But much of the power and passion had been sucked away, and this more tamed version is what we heard. The Smiths songs were played faithfully, and I think the live band has greatly improved the arrangements of tracks like “Shoplifters of the World,” “I Know It’s Over” and “Please Let Me Get What I Want.” This show could have been so much more…

You Have Killed Me
Shoplifters Of The World Unite (The Smiths)
You’re The One For Me, Fatty
Alma Matters
How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
Black Cloud
Everyday Is Like Sunday
To Give (The Reason I Live) (Frankie Valli cover)
Meat Is Murder (The Smiths)
Let Me Kiss You
People Are The Same Everywhere
I Will See You In Far Off Places
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths)
When Last I Spoke To Carol
Scandinavia
I Know It’s Over (The Smiths)
Speedway
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Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me (The Smiths)
Still Ill…sort of (The Smiths)

Odd moment of the show: Well, there were several odd moments. Boz in drag, the setlist, oh…the film! There was a very uncomfortable feeling in the venue when Meat Is Murder was performed. On the projector screen, footage from the film Meet Your Meat was played, showing troubling scenes of animal mutilation in the farming industry. The idea seemed an effective companion to the lyrics of the song, but it was too much. This is an agricultulral area afterall. Morrissey has always been a hero for the misfits, the misunderstood, the losers, and the disabled. THAT I identify with most. Despite the odd set, I’d still like to see him again. There was only one Elvis and one Sinatra. We still have Morrissey and I’ll see him so long as he’s alive.

Cool moments: Matt Walker’s drum kit. His bass drum reso heads were printed with our state flag. Nice tribute 🙂 And just being to see the Man up close was great.

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Photographic proof of Boz in drag. Weird. Check out Matt’s bass drums!