11 June 2004|
Meltdown 2004, Royal Festival Hall, London, UK
First Of The Gang To DieMorrissey accepted the invitation to curate the Meltdown festival of 2004. This meant that he programmed the artists (Sparks, Alan Bennett, etc.) who would perform throughout the two weeks the event took place. He scheduled three concerts for himself, this one on opening night and two more at the very end of the festival.
The sad highlight of this date was the replacement of longtime guitarist Alain Whyte on stage. Alain had shown serious signs of illness the week before in Dublin, so this didn't come as a complete surprise. The replacement guitarist was called Lil' Barrie (Codgan) and he surprisingly learned the material within a few days. There were minor sound problems here and there throughout the evening, but they had nothing to do with him. Lil' Barrie would stay on board for only a month until he was replaced by the more permanent Jesse Tobias.
Morrissey himself was visibly feeling quite well and was playful and talkative throughout the evening. Security was very tight and often reminded people to stay in their seats. The setlist for this evening was pretty much the same as in Dublin, but "The Headmaster Ritual" replaced "Shoplifters Of The World Unite".
As was tradition Morrissey entered stage at the end of the "Imperfect List" intro with a lilac branch hanging from his crotch. He greeted the audience "And welcome to Melt-Up!" before going into set opener "First Of The Gang To Die". After the song he added "Nice to see you all... (points towards someone) especially you..." Instead of the usual live change to "so much for London" in "Hairdresser On Fire", Morrissey sang the French variation "so much for Londres". After the song he welcomed the audience to 'Melt-Up' again then joked "Apparently somebody told me I was the talk of the town... but... unfortunately the town is Sunderland so... Funny? Not really..."
In "Irish Blood, English Heart" Morrissey reverted to the very early lyric "to be standing by the flag not feeling shameful, racist or racial". Then the Smiths classic "The Headmaster Ritual" was introduced with "And of course we passed through the dark place full of very small people with very small shadows and... but nonetheless..." After that song Morrissey finally explained Alain's absence: "The more clear-sighted of you will have realised that this is our first night without Alain and I should tell you that a week ago you know that he was sick and very ill, and he's still under medical supervision but tonight we have our good friend, would you please encourage Lil' Barrie (crowd cheers)..."
After "Everyday Is Like Sunday" the crowd broke into a chant of Morrissey's name and the man just smiled and basked in the adoration while his musicians were getting ready to launch into the next planned number. In "Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference" Morrissey followed the line "most people keep their brains between their legs" with a cheeky "I do!". Before going into "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?" he announced "You might have noticed in several bargain bins all around the country they have a new album which is called 'You, From Bermondsey, You Are The Quarry' and... and, that's it!"
Before going into "I'm Not Sorry" Morrissey chatted extensively with fans in the front rows: "Thank you Art Deco people... and I hope you manage to crawl along to a few more Melt-Up events because they're all incredibly interesting, as you know... two people agree... (some voice their discontent at the line up) Well, it's just, tell me who exactly is missing on the list? And who? Yes but, yes but, Johnny Thunders has passed on... What? (someone shouts something, Morrissey looks disappointed) Aaahhh... Julia isn't old ... people don't have the decency to bring their own microphones..."
At the end of "I'm Not Sorry" Morrissey left the stage to change shirts and when he returned he explained "I had to get the wet shirt off because otherwise I'd get a shocking cold... and I'd miss the New York Dolls..." He wasn't very happy with his performance of "Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice" and followed it with the comment "That song was called 'Don't Make Fun Of Mozzer's Voice', and don't be too surprised when I sing off-key because, that's actually how I sing (crowd laughs and Morrissey mocks their laughter)..."
Following "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" Morrissey enquired "In a world which is overburdened with crashing bores, who gets the absolute crown? (crowd shouts many names)... Who? What? Elton John? (undecipherable)? Patti Smith? Who? Britney? Hmm...." Morrissey was actually surprised that his hero Patti Smith was named. When this question was asked on the 2002 tour Elton John was the typical answer and Morrissey seemed to agree. The fans were just repeating what he had said in a radio interview. But on this occasion the answer made Morrissey cough as if he was choking on something. He might have been embarrassed because he (acting as the festival curator) had asked Elton John to appear at the festival to sing Jobriath songs.
After "A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours" Morrissey joked "I think I smell a Christmas no 1... Just watch me! Cliff will be on his knees... for a change..." He then looked at Boz and shouted "Maestro!", a cue to launch into the next song, but then changed his mind and said "Maestro, a few words! (searches his mind) I've forgotten them... (Morrissey tries to remember what he wanted to say) Congratulate James Maker who's in the audience, this is one of his songs from the 1930s and it's called 'With A Ladder And Some Glasses You Could See The Hackney Marshes If It Wasn't For The Houses In Between'..." Of course the song was from the 1980s, not the 1930s, it was originally recorded by James Maker's band Raymonde, and its title was actually "No One Can Hold A Candle To You". The title Morrissey gave is actually a line from a famous traditional British music hall song.
In the latter number Morrissey changed a line to "Am I Einstein or am I Gertrude Stein?". After that Morrissey started to introduce the band but was interrupted by someone in the front rows: "If I can introduce... What? What? Why? What do you mean? Where are you from? Oh really? Which place? Mexico City? You live in Mexico City? I live in Trafford, it doesn't count!" Morrissey could then proceed with the introduction of the band: "Could I please ask you to put your dentures together for Boz!... and for Gary... and for Deano... and for our life saver Barrie... and for a man of many, many, many, many parts, Mikey!... and I am the lovely Dana... sorry Julia, not so funny..."
Following "Let Me Kiss You" Morrissey commented on the recent EMI reissues of his video compilations "Hulmerist" and "The Malady Lingers On" on DVD: "If I can just be really nasty for one minute and say... (fans shout things about George W Bush, thinking Morrissey wanted to comment on the controversial remark from the recent Dublin show, Morrissey giggles and says)... Seriously EMI have also just released these two DVDs 'Hulmerist' and 'The Malady Lingers On' in atrocious quality, nothing interesting about them but I beg you do not buy them..."
Morrissey changed a few lines in "America Is Not The World" by replacing "and I love you I just wish you'd stay where you is" with "I once loved you but you wouldn't stay where you is", and at the end "I love you" to "I once loved you". After the song he tried to say something to his favourite fan Julia but was interrupted by someone. Morrissey turned to the intruder and said "Sorry am I annoying? But... If you don't mind... nobody disagrees obviously..."
"You Are The Quarry" had entered the British album chart at #2 just a few weeks earlier. It had been beaten to the top spot by a band called Keane, which prompted Morrissey to say, just before the encore: "With regard to the album 'You Are The Quarry', if your name is Keane then you better leave now..." Morrissey walked off stage at the end of his vocal part in encore "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", then the band finished the song in the traditional way. It wasn't extended and gradually stripped of its instruments one by one has it had been on recent dates when it was slotted as an encore.
The audio recording commonly found on the internet is actually the audio ripped from the Chris A video mentioned above. It must be said that a true audio-only audience recording might also be out there, but just not in wide circulation yet. The first nine songs from this are also found under the title "The Revenge Of The Unloved", as bonus material to a complete recording from 9 October 2004.
Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.