Back To The Old House
I went to see Morrissey again last week - Thurs 25/5/2006 at the New Theatre in Oxford - and i'm afraid i've taken ages to write up a review. This time I was in the top balcony instead of the thick of the stalls. It was a bit odd, because some people up there were singing along, punching the air, moving in time with the music, whistling, that sort of thing, like I was, but a lot of people were just sitting there quietly, clapping politely, as if at a play, which (to me at least) seemed a bit odd at a concert.
The performances by Morrissey and the gang were excellent again, and new album Ringleader of the Tormentors sounds great live: although the album is really beautiful and graceful, it sometimes sounds a bit too restrained; but live, Moz changes lyrics (e.g. when he sang "who am I that I come to be here?" in "You Have Killed Me", he knelt on the floor and sang "who am I that I come to be kneeling down here?") and his band of rockabilly lads beef up the sound and rock out more. Also his voice is just as good live as in the studio - he doesn't use half as much studio trickery as some pop stars do, and a lot of his classics were done in one or two takes (I think he never does more than three takes).
At this particular gig, he seemed in quite a good mood despite nearing the end of a long national tour - no end-of-tour fatigue here! He got through four shirts (a red one, a greenish one, a black one and a yellow one), and there was an absolutely priceless moment when he threw the greeny one into the crowd in the stalls: normally he runs offstage to get another shirt, but this time he skipped merrily offstage, which was quite funny. Another amusing moment was when he was talking to someone in the stalls, he liked the bloke's shirt and was trying to asking him where he got it from, and was whistling to get the guy's attention. He talked to the audience and moved around quite a bit. Of course there was plenty of his famous mic-whip stuff, and also he dragged the mic stand around the floor in circles around him quite a bit (if you've seen the "Live In Dallas" DVD/video you'll know what I mean), not to mention shaking hands with quite a few audience members (no stage invasions, and not many (if any) crowdsurfers this time, but lots of people were trying to reach out and touch his hands). If you had to compare it to his live DVDs, i'd say that it was a bit like a combination of the advantages of "Live In Dallas" (high-energy show, shame about the poor sound quality) and "Who Put The M In Manchester?" (musically better and talked with individual audience members, but didn't move around so much at times). Guitarist Boz Boorer definiately seemed to have more energy and moved around the stage a lot more at this show than on "Who Put The M...?" and the other You Are The Quarry tour performances that i've seen.
I also liked the humourous way that Moz introduced the band to the audience: "They were once quite happy, reasonably balanced, and not bad looking. Then they met me." Also he introduced keyboardist/one-man horn section Mikey Pharrell as "the boy with the horn by his side," a reference to a Smiths song, which lots of fans liked.
The setlist had a lot of similarities to the one at the Manchester Apollo - starting with the glorious romantic singalong "First Of The Gang To Die" and the malaised manifesto of "Still Ill", lots of Ringleader stuff in the middle plus some Smiths songs and later solo stuff, and an encore of alternative national anthem "Irish Blood, English Heart." There were a few variations - this time we didn't get Magazine cover "A Song From Under The Floorboards", B-side "My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye" or Maladjusted standout "Trouble Loves Me," although we did get Quarry's sweet "Let Me Kiss You" and one more Ringleader track, "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now."
Again, people may complain about the setlist, but it was one hell of a good show. Although i didn't like sitting down at a gig at all, I did get an amazing view. I took some photos, and in the first few songs I took loads, but after a bit I worried that the staff would confiscate my stuff. I wasn't worried so much about losing my camera - it was quite cheap and i could easily sneak the film out and hand over the empty camera if i had to - it was my cameraphone I was scared of losing: i don't want to lose my phone, or stuff on it like people's phone numbers! I tried taking photos and filming with my cameraphone a couple of times, but they turned out rubbish, so i quickly gave up and mostly used my camera. It's an ordinary film camera (hence why it cost so little) and i haven't used the whole film yet - once I have, i'll get it developed and post the pics I took. One cameraphone photo turned out OK-ish, here it is, click to enlarge...
Anyway. I stayed at a youth hostel afterwards - it was good to have a rest, shame that it was next to a nightclub! i guess that will give me a taste of life next year, as i'll be living quite close to a club. I went home (home-home, not uni-home) by train, via Reading Station, which was a bit of a pain: firstly because it's huge, secondly because for such a large station it seems to have few timetables, and thirdly because it has a weird system of platforms. Most stations have separate platforms, but Reading has some platforms which are more than one platform - it's hard to explain in words so I drew a little diagram in Microsoft Paint, but that was on my home computer, not my uni computer, so i don't have it to post here.
Got back to my humdrum hometown, visited some teachers at my third school, then popped home with the intention of only staying for a day or two... and ended up staying a week. Much as i love my family, pets and house, i got really bored and depressed and lost all motivation to do anything, to be honest. The weather was a bit rubbish, which probably contributed to that feeling too. I stayed longer than planned because of various reasons - my own laziness, news of train delays and cancellations, being nagged by family to do stuff, etc. In the end i got sick of it and went home (uni-home this time) on 2/6/06 by train via London (thereby avoiding the problem of changing at Reading).
The weather is much hotter and sunnier in Exeter, there's people sunbathing everywhere. Although it sucks to cram for early exams like i did, at least you get more time off afterwards than everyone else. Now there's not a lot going on as nearly everyone here is revising all the time for their exams, or they've gone home because they've finished or to do revision in peace. I did go on one night out last Saturday with some other Duryarders, to the Cavern's monthly ska/punk/reggae night. I really enjoyed it, they played proper ska (e.g. Madness), proper punk (e.g. the Clash) and proper reggae (e.g. Bob Marley), as opposed to so-called ska-punk bands like Less Than Jake, which basically play ordinary pop-punk songs with a milisecond of brass and try to pass it off as "ska." It annoys me slightly that there are some really good ska-punk bands (especially around Brighton) that blend ska and punk seamlessly and smoothly, yet have only a cult following, while some rubbish American bands do the same thing only not so well and are massive!
Just before I go, i'll post this link here (an English-to-American dictionary), as i've noticed on my guestmap at the side that there's a lot of non-Brits visiting my blog, so it may help them understand it more.