Manchunian icon Morrissey crosses the Pennines to play Leeds First Direct Arena on one of only two UK dates. Between his captivating vocal deliveries and on-stage tirades, Morrissey provided the audience with exactly what has come to be expected from him. Even if it sometimes boarders on parody.
Perhaps the biggest indictment of Morrissey’s current self-gratifying position in the world of music was his slightly peculiar choice in support act, or lack thereof. Rather than provide the audience with a live band, they were instead presented with a 40-minute collection of live clips from various other artists. Between the obscure selection and tendency to cut off the more well-known choices before they had chance to get the audience into the swing of the night, the collection struggled to achieve any reaction.
However, as Morrissey took the stage and broke into opening number, ‘You’ll Be Gone’ (one of many covers that littered the set), his talents as both a vocalist and frontman became undoubtable to even the most hardened of Morrissey haters. Following this was ‘I Wish You Lonely’ and a favorite for fans of The Smith’s, ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’. The latter of which was greeted by an undeniably raucous reception from those in attendance.
Following this were tracks such as, ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore’, ‘If You Don’t Like Me, Don’t Look At Me’ and live debuts of, ‘Jim Jim Falls’ and ‘Once I Saw The River Clean’. The atmosphere of the night took somewhat of a darker tone with the inclusion of track, ‘Munich Air Disaster 1958’. With the uncomfortable subject matter and the self-centered, and frankly pompous, mutterings of, ‘I wish I’d gone down with them’, those in attendance seemed lost. A tone which wasn’t helped by the graphic videos of the disaster projected behind Morrissey, who was concrete in his faux-saviour stance. It was at this point Morrissey’s on-stage ramblings of his right to ‘free speech’ picked up the pace. Showing the extent of his detachment from his roots, he seemed unable to fathom the controversial nature of his tirades and wouldn’t rest until he had Leeds Arena on his side.
The mood of the night picked up again by the time tracks such as, ‘Back On The Chain Gang’ (Yet another cover) and, ‘Jack The Ripper’ were outed, with the ever-faithful front row singing along in unison. By the time the encore of, ‘Half A Person’ and, ‘Irish Blood, English Hart’ came to be a cacophonous noise permeated the arena. And with a rather odd closing video Morrissey exited the stage.
Morrissey’s show at Leeds Arena was everything fans have come to expect from the singer. Witty, talented and endearing, as well as being pompous, offensive, crass in equal measure. It’s clear the singer is as confident as ever in his abilities to captivate, and for as long as he plays, he will have an audience.