Monday, March 23, 2009

Morrissey plays the Wellmont Theatre, NJ: 3/16/09

The first time I saw Morrissey was two years ago, during the third of five consecutive nights at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. My friend and I had pretty good spots, thanks to our general admission tickets, and we were so thrilled that we decided it wasn't necessary for us to see Morrissey again — unless The Smiths miraculously reformed.

But a few months ago, when we found out Morrissey was about to embark on a tour featuring significantly smaller venues, we decided we just had to see him one more time. After failing to snag highly-coveted tickets to him perform during a Saturday night show at the Bowery Ballroom, we wound up obtaining tickets for the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ. While the venue isn't as intimate as Bowery is, the concert was well worth it.

The setlist itself wasn't anything particularly spectacular, but it did have its highlights. Morrissey kicked things off with The Smiths' classic, "This Charming Man," and then plowed through a set that included additional Smiths songs such as "How Soon is Now?" and "Ask," along with a handful of older solo material, songs from You Are the Quarry and his latest offering, Years of Refusal. Interestingly enough, he eschewed tracks from 2006's Ringleader of the Tormentors, an album I personally find middling at best.

While Morrissey himself was relatively low key during the show, keeping the theatrics to a minimum when he wasn't throwing the shirts he was wearing out into the audience, there were still plenty of opportunities to witness the type of spectacle one comes to expect at Morrissey concerts.

Fans hung onto to every word, holding their arms out and singing along to old and new material alike. And when Morrissey came out at the end to deliver an encore of "First of the Gang to Die," fans began crowdsurfing en masse in a desperate (and sometimes successful) attempt to try touching Morrissey's hand before he left the stage. Those last few moments were exhilaratingly intense, even for those of us who weren't trying to reach the stage, a perfect reminder of why Morrissey concerts tend to draw such a dedicated following.

This Charming Man, Billy Budd, Black Cloud, How Soon is Now, Irish Blood English Heart, Let Me Kiss You, I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, Ask, How Could Anyone Possibly Know How I Feel, The Loop, Death of a Disco Dancer, Something is Squeezing My Skull, Seasick Yet Still Docked, Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself, Best Friend on the Payroll, Mama Lay Softly on the Riverbed, Sorry Doesn't Help, I Keep Mine Hidden, The World is Full of Crashing Bores, I'm OK By Myself

First of the Gang to Die

(Crossposted at Pop Wenches)