For the first time since 1991, Morrissey came to the BIC in Bournemouth last night. Following the recent release of his latest album, “World Peace is None of your Business”, the former Smiths lead singer decided to pay a visit to Bournemouth in one of only six concerts across the UK.
With no support act, the audience were treated to a selection of music videos handpicked by Morrissey on a screen above the empty stage. They gave an insight and paid tribute to his artistic influences and other influential figures in his life, a few of which had recently passed away, with music from Klaus Nomi, The Ramones, Penetration, New York Dolls and most poignantly Steve Strange who passed away only weeks ago with a video showing Visage’s “Fade To Grey”. Perhaps the most memorable was Morrissey’s own “tribute” to Margaret Thatcher, which showed scenes of 80s rioting, protest and, more recently, reactions to her death while “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” played through the concert hall.
After about half an hour, stage lights flashed as the screen came tumbling down and all went dark. The crowd cheered as the room lit up and Morrissey walked across the stage and bowed to his accompanying musicians before a photoshopped picture of *that* image of the Queen at the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony was displayed on the screen – with a couple of middle fingers added – as he opened with “The Queen is Dead”, a song even many veteran fans had never heard live, followed by “Suedehead”. Proud anti-royalist, halfway through “The Queen is Dead”, the image changed to a picture of unflattering pictures of Will and Kate with the caption “United King-Dumb”.
After recently having to cancel concerts due to throat cancer, the cynical singer cracked jokes about “actually making it this time”, though his voice has been undiminished by time or his recent illness. His voice and stage presence is so compelling that even less well-known new tracks from “World Peace is None of your Business” held their own in the set-list.
He then conducts a nod towards Mother’s Day, saying “If your mother is still with us, or if she’s watching you from beyond… This is for, with the exception of the obvious three or four mothers, for mothers everywhere” before gracing the audience with what many fans describe as his best song ever “Every Day is Like Sunday”, which went down particularly well with the Bournemouth fans considering the song’s basis is in a “coastal/seaside town that they forgot to close down”. The mood quickly turned very heavy and sombre as he begin to sing “Meat is Murder” while shocking, stomach churning hidden footage of animals being beaten, slaughtered and packed into tight spaces at an abattoir was shown. Many hard core Morrissey fans knew what to expect from him but some felt they had to leave or even fainted. With his input of political agenda over, the crowd went wild with “Irish Blood English Heart” and a Smiths classic, “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before”. With the atmosphere buzzing, he thanked his musicians and left the stage, with the crowd quickly chanting for an encore, and not stopping until he returned to the stage. He finished with “Speedway”, which turned into a song medley featuring “Bigmouth Strikes Again” with the lyrics changed to “Bournemouth Strikes Again”. Finally Morrissey delivered his tradition of taking off the shirt he is wearing and tossing it into the desperate crowd. It was then left to the drummer to inexplicably start kicking over his drums and wrecking his kit before they left and the lights came up.
I went with my dad, an almost life-long worshiper of Morrissey and The Smiths, and he is no stranger to Morrissey’s gigs – but this is the first chance I had to see him perform live, and having grown up with his music being very much part of my household through and beyond childhood, it was truly awe inspiring. There is such a vast number of songs to his name that he could of course only pick out a few, and he very rarely does any song twice, so there was something new and unique for all his fans attending, both young and old. He is such a unique individual and his stage presence as well as his music reflects this – it is certainly a gig that will stand out for me in my lifetime.