Newcastle Metro Arena
Friday February 23rd 2018
I never got to see The Smiths live. Gutting yes, but maybe for the best as I'm not sure how my young mind would have coped with the enormity of seeing my idol in the flesh and surrounded by the devoted, passionate and demonstrative throng that made up the audiences. I'm pretty sure I would have been among the many who tried to get onto the stage for a hastily grabbed touch of the man himself and never washing my hand again.
In the 90’s I was lucky to see Morrissey twice at Newcastle City Hall and I managed to get tickets right near the front. I was close enough to see his belt (I know) and what an atmosphere that was. Yes it was a seated event but the seats only served for people to stand on and shout and scream his name. I can only liken it to being in a cult with everyone trying to meet their leader. No, I didn't try to push my way right to the front and get on stage such was the frenzy that surrounded me.
I'd read on forums and reviews beforehand that security, as well as outside for obvious reasons, is also tighter inside too so stage bombing was no longer the norm or even possible at the current gigs.
Whilst listening to the latest album Low In High School, I poured over set lists of the last few gigs he played, read reviews and commentary about song choices and atmosphere, soaking it all in building myself up before the night of the concert.
When the day arrived my excitement was off the scale, I arrived at the arena stood in the foyer and heard many people give a heartily and happy woo hoo we are here and will soon be seeing Morrissey as they entered the building. Was great seeing people of all different ages in attendance and the variety of Smiths and Morrissey t-shirts and quiffs was amazing.
An announcement came over the tannoy that the show would soon be starting so for people to make their way into the arena. This was my cue to find my spot for the night and what a brilliant one I had, right next to the sound man so the metal barriers gave me somewhere to rest my elbow and I had a great clear view of the stage with no one in front...perfect.
I knew there was no support band. Instead, and as with more recent Morrissey tours a video is shown, a compilation of videos and film clips ranging from The New York Dolls The Sex Pistols and a very questionable cover of How Soon Is Now by tatu.
With regards to his setlist, yes there was a lot from the last album but this was an album tour having only been released in November. It wasn't a Morrissey sings The Smiths or a greatest hits tour either. I personally enjoyed the mix of songs he played and we still got to hear a few Smiths songs ‘I Started Something I couldn't Finish’ and ‘How Soon Is Now’ (one of my favourite of the night and received one of the biggest cheers)
Great cheers and a full crowd singing along with gusto to every word came when Morrissey's first single ‘Suedehead’ was played, as did the beautiful ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’
Songs from the current album included ‘When You Open Your Legs’ along with single ‘Spent The Day in Bed’ were well received as was the jokey comment from Morrissey about after the concert he was going to a nightclub in Darlington and along the way he might be killed to which he'd say this to them then began the song ‘If You Don't Like Me, Don't Look At Me’
Morrissey's voice seems to get better with age and certainly didn't disappoint, on stage he owned it along with his mic lead whipping dancing technique and the crowd on his side when he said “Whatever Happened To The Likely Lasses”
He also reached out and quickly grabbed a few peoples hands whilst performing too (I wonder if they'll ever wash again)
The screen behind showed either film footage or a picture which changed with every song, from the character Jason King, the Meat Is Murder cover to THAT picture of Margaret Thatcher a policeman on a horse and a baton and along with a spectacular light show (part of which someone described as the shape of Blue Peter badges) all added to great visuals.
The sound is apparently never great at the venue and infamous for its poor acoustics but I found there to be no major problems that night. I could hear everything I needed to and the whole band was mixed well.
He introduced the band members and long standing guitarist Boz Boorer got a huge cheer. The show finished with ‘English Blood, Irish Heart’ as an encore and a flurry of scrummage at the front when Morrissey whipped off his shirt and threw it to the crowd (I wonder how many pieces it was shredded into) and that was it, a topless Morrissey exited the stage
Being vegetarian I appreciated and welcome that Morrissey makes his shows meat free i.e no meat allowed to be brought in or served at the venue
(even Lady Gaga wouldn't have been allowed to enter in that dress)
After all it is only for one night, but I can't help wonder how many people got a dirty kebab on the way home 😁
Till next time (which I do hope there will be)