It's been roughly 48 hours since I was at the O2 arena seeing Morrissey live and I am still having trouble finding the words to describe it. Not only was it one of -if not the- best live performance I have ever seen, it was certainly the gig that meant the most to me. It will forever stand out in my mind as the first time I got to witness my idol live and even if it is the only time I get to see Moz live, I don't care because this gig was so special.
We queued for about 7 hours and were fairly near the front, and as 6.30pm neared closer, the excitement built and built and built. I met some incredible people in the queue who had seen him numerous times. A personal favourite of mine was a roughly 40-50 year old woman who proceeded to tell us the stories of how many times she'd got on stage, shook his hand and crowd-surfed at her first gig. From all the tales of gigs-gone-by you could hear in peoples voices how much this concert meant to people and by the end, I certainly understood why.
Anna Calvi supported and I was totally blown away. I'd given her album a little listen after reading it on the Mercury Prize Nominations list and expected her to be great, but I was utterly impressed. With her band, she played about 45 minutes full of 11 energy-filled tracks. I recommend to everyone reading this to check Anna Calvi out because she's exceptionally talented and stunningly diverse. From the moment Calvi and her band walked off stage, Morrissey's 30 minute long tour intro video began. And so did the heart palpitations.
The legend himself strolled on to rapturous applause at about 8.45 and the tears began as the opening bars of Queen Is Dead kicked in. I have loved The Smiths since I first got into music, so for my once chance to see Morrissey to be started with my favourite Smiths song? Nothing will compare to that feeling. Straight into the classic Suedehead before launching into the first album track of many from the setlist. Staircase At The University is my favourite WP song and it sounded even better live. It was then time for the title track, with the introduction slating Harvest Records who's name spawned a mass 'BOOOO' from the crowd. It was incredibly special hearing this song live, and even more so because it went into possibly the worst lyrical song, but the most fun - Kiss Me A Lot. It's pretty poppy for Moz, and not overly witty or clever but alas, it's equally good live as any other track.
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris came next which created a huge singalong to the point where I couldn't actually hear Morrissey's voice over the sound of 20,000 people screaming along. Following this came one of the most moving songs of the set, Istanbul. It's not a ballad, but the lyrics are very meaningful and painfully relevant to far too many situations around the world today. Next came two more album tracks including an unplugged version of Smiler With A Knife which formed more tears, and The Bullfighter Dies. The background for this was proceeded by cheers and screams of appreciation as the audience watched multiple videos of bulls fighting back and bullfighters being impaled. It was one of the more empowering yet incredibly strange moments of the gig, but nonetheless, it was truly incredible.
I haven't ever screamed louder from when the opening bars to my favourite ever Morrissey solo song began. Trouble Loves Me has always been the most loved Moz song for me and the fact he played it on the show that I attended was the icing on the cake. It sounded impeccable live and I'm still finding it difficult to describe how emotional it was. Earth Is The Loneliest Planet and Neal Cassady Drops Dead followed suit, both sounding even better than they do on record, before the first true showstopper of the night began. Meat Is Murder soundtracked an animal violence video which was almost too gory to watch, and the sound of 20,000 people singing "KILL, EAT, KILL, EAT, MURDER." was enough to turn anyone vegetarian. If I already wasn't, I certainly would have converted after that song.
3 out of the 4 last songs of the main set were new album tracks as expected. Scandinavia, Kick The Bride Down The Isle and I'm Not A Man all sounded beautiful, especially I'm Not A Man which he sang flawlessly. The final song was Speedway which kicked off the closest thing to a mosh-at-a-Morrissey gig we got. I'm not complaining though of course and neither was a single person in that venue. Despite being front and centre barrier, I again couldn't hear Moz's voice over the sound of the crowd. The atmosphere was absolutely staggering.
Nothing could prepare me emotionally for what happened when he returned to the stage. The band gathered together to take a bow, before Morrissey uttered the words "Remember Me, (greeted by cheers) But forget my fate." The entire arena fell deathly silent and it really felt like he was saying goodbye. As if that wasn't already emotional enough, he then went into Asleep and there was not a single dry eye in the house. Including myself. Who absolutely bawled her eyes out. The set closer was Everyday Is Like Sunday and during this song is when it all really hit me. The emotions of the gig, the fact that people were shaking his hand and almost getting on stage and sobbing just got too much and I was hysterically crying. I have never, ever been that overwhelmed at a gig. To find the words to describe that is impossible. Exceptional, phenomenal, stunning, none of these words come close to that night and it will forever stand out as the most incredible, and moving experience of my whole life.
God bless you Morrissey.
Thank you. Thank you for everything.