A Trumphant Return To London
Morrissey is in fine spirit entertaining a massive crowd in Hyde Park, the fact that acts on the other stages finish before the headliner is due creates a swelling mass of fans, even if the event isn't sold out. The last time that the singer was in London was for his ill-fated Roundhouse residency, which was called off half way through due to vocal problems. Luckily, this performance is far better as the singer jokes after the third song that he's "Still here", making light of the Friday night Roundhouse show when he was forced to walk out, unable to maintain his vocal strength. It's characteristic Morrissey to remind people of the event humorously with perhaps a tad of self-depreciation mixed with a lot of sarcasm.
The set includes a healthy mix of Morrissey's solo work, including recent tracks, 'All You Need Is Me' and 'That's How People Grow Up' from his best of, and a new track, ''Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed' from new album 'Years of Refusal'. It's a charismatic tune with hefty percussion and bodes well for the new album as it fits smoothly into the set. Even a cover of Buzzcocks' 'You Say You Don't Love Me' makes its way into the performance with a welcoming reception.
The singer kicks off the set with 'The Last Of The International Playboys' with he and his band wearing matching mock Playboy shirts. Smiths track 'Ask' picks up the pace before 'First of the Gang To Die' really winds the fans up and a rain of bottles begins in salute to the singer. 'Vicar In a Tutu' also gets a warm reception with the crowd beginning to dance to the quirky melody. 'Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself' from Morrissey's solo album, 'Vauxhall And I' introduces some sparky accordion work into the mix. The singer, having earlier told us that he was pleased to here that Kylie Minogue had earned an OBE, here jokes that the song was written by the Australian pop star. It's typical Morrissey wit and he's probably the only one brave enough to have a laugh about Kylie after her breast cancer battle which has rendered her immune to any criticism or comedy. In fine form Morrissey also mentions the "alluring scent of dead animals" coming from the burger vans, the strict curfew for the night, which would cause Harriet Harman and Ruth Kelly to come after him if he broke it, and the fact that despite American's celebrating Indepence Day today, they won't be independent until Bush is gone.
Morrissey's band are also on fire tonight, 'Death Of A Disco Dancer' sees young guitarist Jesse Tobias climbing the drum riser during the euphoric guitar outro, his instrument emitting screeching wails. The elegant tones of 'Stretch Out And Wait', matched with its visceral lyrics make for an emotional number with the crowd beginning to way in parts. The final climax, however, is solo number, 'Life Is A Pigsty' with its dramatic crescendo, during which Morrissey collapses in despair to a frisson of flashing lights, only to be revived from his swan song for 'How Soon Is Now' and a final Smiths' number, 'What She Said'. It's a great set full of classics, rather more unexpected tracks and new material which all bond well and keep the audience excited. Morrissey makes the massive stage his own easily and his banter is constantly provoking reaction from the fans. As for his vocal ability, which many have questioned in recent months, his voice still sounds excellent tonight, although perhaps a little less rich at the high end of the spectrum than in his younger days.