Morrissey Defied All Expectation At The Majestic Theatre Last Night.
Purchasing a ticket to a Morrissey comes with many expectations — one of the big ones being that there's a good chance the show won't end up ever happening at all.
That's fair: Moz cancelling dates for health and/or moral reasons has become an increased occurrence in recent years — and especially here in Dallas, where Moz canceled twice on his North Texas fans.
And when the show does go on, you have a pretty good idea of what too expect. The expertly-quaffed showman will perform a healthy portion of Smiths cuts as well as his own solo hits. He'll maybe mix in a few deep cuts, too. And, almost certainly, he'll be stunningly-dressed — and likely in a few different outfits. He'll also do a fair amount of politicizing and even more preening. And he'll probably get hugged by a few overeager fans before the night's through.
From the onset of his performance last night at the Majestic Theatre, though, Morrissey seemed wholeheartedly intent on defying every one of those expectations, starting with the fact that, hey, this show was actually going to happen after all! Really, if the singer was ever going to call off a show with no hard feelings it probably would have been a night like his 55th birthday.
But, as it turned out, it was the audience in Dallas last night that received all the gifts.
Yes, there were plenty of surprises. For one, everyone in Morrissey's backing band, on this evening, wore red t-shirts with “SLAG” written in large white lettering, as opposed to what we were told to expect. Then there's the fact that his opening tune, “One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell,” has for the most part been his encore song thus far throughout his current tour.
And yet there were more expectations defied — like how Morrissey's next three numbers were deeper solo album cuts, which were then followed by “Earth is the Loneliest Planet” from his upcoming LP, World Peace is None of Your Business. A surprising choice given that the song isn't one of the two singles that have been released so far from that as-yet-unreleased album? For sure. But the tone was set early on: This wasn't going to be a greatest hits tour, not by any stretch.
In all, only two songs Morrissey performed on this night — “Everyday is Like Sunday” and “Last of the Gang to Die” — could be considered hits from his solo career. As you'd expect, they got the biggest reaction from the crowd. The rest of the set was rounded out with a trio of Smiths cuts — including the rarely performed “Asleep” — as well as three more songs from the new album and a giant helping of deep cuts, more than half of which were released post 2004.
For one of those new cuts — called “The Bullfighter Dies” — Morrissey prefaced that the song “has already been criticized by the Brittish 'stabloids,'” despite the fact that it hasn't been released. That one, with lyrics about fans celebrating a bullfighters death because they wanted the bull to win, was so utterly Morrissey that it bordered on a caricature of the persona the singer has crafted over the last 30-plus years.
It was a rare moment of Morrissey being exactly what the crowd expected on this night. Really, Morrissey's staunch animal activism was maybe the one thing we knew we could surely count on — a we got it early on, when the show was preceded by a screening of this video depicting animated chicken hatchlings being dramatically separated from their crying mothers only to be reunited just in time to see them brutally slaughtered at a processing plant.
Structurally, that clip paired nicely with its followup, which came during The Smiths' “Meat is Murder,” the main set's penultimate song. Excessively gruesome slaughterhouse footage aired as the band offered up its most gut-wrenchingly visceral performance of the night. It was every bit as thunderously tight and epic as anything you might expect to see an act like Mastadon pull off in a large stadium environment. And, hard as those visuals were to stomach, it made for a rather mind-blowing listening experience.
Three songs and one outfit change later — Moz's ditching of black shirt for a matching white one for the encore proved to be his only change of this night — and the way-too-short-feeling 80-minute set came to a close, with Morrissey walking off stage carrying the giant armful of wrapped presents fans in the pit had brought him.
It was his birthday, after all.
We're just glad it ended up being a surprise party.
Set List: Encore:
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Earth is the Loneliest Planet
Everyday is Like Sunday
The Bullfighter Dies
Hand in Glove
The Youngest Was the Most Loved
Life is a Pigsty
Trouble Loves Me
World Peace is None of Your Business
Yes, I Am Blind
Meat is Murder
The National Front Disco
First of the Gang to Die