By Andrew Mosley
WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2
Where: Hull Ice Arena
The world won’t listen if it isn’t given the chance and Morrissey has issued his warning.
With no deal on the cards in the UK he says this gig in the barn-like brooding surrounds of Hull Ice Arena – who knew he could skate? – may be among his last.
Of course, it could be a bluff and SP and his band – the guitars of Jesse Tobias and Boz Boorer are twin riffing towers and Gustavo Manzurâ’s keyboards are no mere accompaniment – are out to prove a point.
Morrissey’s on top form with his voice far out in front of the mix and the band brimming with confidence as it launches into opener Suedehead following the usual pre-show collection of black and white films of civil rights speeches and New York Dolls’ performances.
We sing along to Alma Matters then Morrissey suddenly exits the stage half-way through Speedway, the remaining vocals delivered in Spanish by keyboardist Manzurâ’s.
No panic (and there isn’t any Panic), Moz is back for Ganglord and a cracking Staircase At The University, a stand-out from most recent album World Peace Is None Of Your Business.
Kiss Me a Lot is delivered with an urgency lacking in the recorded version and World Peace’s title track with genuine feeling.
Morrissey salutes Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to sing the National Anthem (‘Why on Earth would God want to save the Queen?’) and some aren’t happy – who did they think they were watching? Phil Collins?
By Istanbul and Oboe Concerto we’ve got the idea that this isn’t a greatest hits churnathon though Years of Refusal’s I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris is a surprise standout, gaining added menace in the lyrical delivery, and a fabulous Everyday Is Like Sunday has everyone singing along.
There’s a video of police brutality to which Morrissey quips ‘all legal, you know’, a gorgeous I’m Not A Man and then, and then, what makes Morrissey different. He performs Meat is Murder, his back to the crowd and facing a video containing harrowing scenes of animal cruelty that ends with the words: ‘What’s your excuse now?’
A fair amount take the opportunity for a loo break, some turn away but even more appreciate that here in an age of Sam Smith and Mumford and Sons we have an artist not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve whatever the cost. The Bullfighter Dies – and who wouldn’t shout a ‘hurrah’ at that? – hammers home the point as the Spanish rhythms prevalent throughout the evening celebrate the outcome of the song.
We get one encore and it’s the second Smiths song of the night What She Said, spat out at breakneck speed, and Mozzer and pals are off out of town and on their way to end the tour in London.
There’s no compromise within Morrissey’s lyrics, music or views and maybe that’s why he hasn’t got a deal when every new artist signed to a label has to undergo a health and safety check. However, he’s reinvented himself before and returned stronger than ever and on the evidence of tonight as they head off from a sometimes tense and never less than committed show of strength and into the Hull night in search of alcohol to accompany excitable post-gig analysis, his fans will stick with him through the threatened years of refusal.
- Andrew tweets @MosleyAndrew