One of the few living British music icons, Morrissey is still continuing to further his legend as he tours his 11th studio album, Low In High School. Morrissey gigs are some of the most unique live music experiences one can have – and it’s been that way since the beginning of the ex-Smiths frontman’s solo career. Anyone who was lucky enough to attend the now legendary 1988 Wolverhampton Civic Hall gig, the singer’s first live solo show, witnessed the birth of the phenomena that is ‘the cult of Morrissey’; fans threw themselves on stage to embrace their musical saviour, tearing at his shirt, kissing and hugging him, before diving back into the fray.
Through the next four decades, that extreme fandom held strong and Morrissey’s devoted fan based continued to make his live performances infamous – that trend was to continue as the enigmatic Mancunian took to the Metro Radio Arena stage. Needless to say, the fans are only one of the elements that make the Morrissey experience so individual, the other is of course the man himself. It felt less like Morrissey was performing at the arena and more like he’d taken it over. By request, the venue had gone meat-free and despite the ticket promising ‘special-guests’, the audience were in fact treated to a 30-minute montage of hand-picked music videos, ranging from Tatu’s cover of ‘How Soon Is Now’ to the Sex Pistol’s ‘God Save The Queen’.
Finally, ‘Moz’ took to the stage and got stuck into to his latest material, before quickly treating the crowd to ‘Suedehead’ circa 1988. The arena was mesmerised. 1993 B-side ‘Jack the Ripper’ was a highlight of the night; smoke filled the stage as the first eerie chord was struck, the thousands in attendance then came together for the chorus, with the words ‘crash into my arms’ ringing around the arena.
Every time the singer came close to the edge of the stage a sea of hands would desperately stretch over the barrier in search of that magic touch, with Moz occasionally offering a hand back, only to be just teasingly out of reach. Whipping his mic lead back and forth, at 58, Morrissey exudes the energy of someone in their 20s, he still knows how to put on a show and he’s still got the voice to back it up, a voice that defined a generation and continues to captivate, even in 2018.
By Johnathan Ramsay