Morrissey and me have history, or rather I have histories. Rogan’s massive tome on The Smiths of course, but five or six Moz companions of varying degrees of cash raking, muck raking and queer power agendas. But I care only for him. his strong arms and Dino-esque ability to make you feel safe with an aside.
But first, I am to be searched for contraband, suspended above Birmingham on a vat of lard (or whatever it is that’s meant to make Symphony Hall acoustically perfect) and encouraged to watch Doll and the Kicks. Encouraged mainly it has to be said by it being three quid for a bottle of lager.
Doll and the Kicks are the latest in a line of Moz support bands hand-picked by our hero because, theoretically, they’ve got everything. Doll teeters about having forgotten to put her skirt on in a way not seen since Daisy Chainsaw, the Kicks are amphetamine skinny — which takes real work these days, what with there being no decent speed about. Alas they have no tunes, or at least no tunes that also have decent songs attached. They have a tune called “What Goes Around Comes Around”, which is about, like, khama or something.
Led to a darkened stage by torchlight, overlooked by a vast projection of some who may or may not be Reggie Kray, Moz spends the next hour battering his past into various shapes. A breakneck “How Sound Is Now” makes you think about how The Smiths at their most rock, were still sedate, “Cemetry Gates” [sic] pumped by stand-up bass is fast enough to make SPM stumble over the words.
It’s still astonishing that The Greatest Lyricist of his Generation™ gives his words so much space, when there’s nothing to improve on an anguished yodel says more than any number of extra lines. This stands out even more when the set includes — as it does — album tracks from his 22 year solo period. There are words here than only the obsessed know, all the better to bellow with your arms outstretched, and a B-sides collection to flog, to the extent of having a vinyl copy to show us as if he’s on Des O’Connor, there’s ample reason for the obscure tracks.
Where the band are at home, on tracks from “the comeback” recent three albums, the sound is complex and epic. Boz Boorer changes guitars mid-song, the drummer has a gong he’s not afraid to crash, lights pump and Morrissey sings about intimate feelings that fill a room as big as you like. He could throw his arms around Paris, he could hug the world, but so often doesn’t want to.
Moz, Symphony Hall, 23/10/10
Originally published by Area Magazine.