28 August 2004|
Carling Festival, Reading
How Soon Is Now?This concert is seen by many as the highlight of the summer dates of the 2004 tour. The band, featuring the newly added Jesse Tobias, was in top form, and Morrissey was quite playful and talkative. Changes were made to the setlist that seemed to please longtime fans as well as festival attendees who were only partially familiar with Morrissey's catalog. A succession of fast paced numbers and well loved classics kept the atmosphere up for most of the concert.
Of course the biggest surprise was the live debut of the Smiths classic "How Soon Is Now?". The song had never been done live by Morrissey in his solo years. Two other songs were played in Reading for the first time: "You Know I Couldn't Last" was one of the 2 tracks from "You Are The Quarry" that had not been performed before (leaving "Come Back To Camden") and the other live addition was the "Irish Blood, English Heart" single b-side "Munich Air Disaster 1958". "November Spawned A Monster" was also added to the setlist. It had been a regular on the 2002 tour, but this was the first time it was played in 2004. "I Like You" and "Now My Heart Is Full" were brought back after being forgotten since May. All these songs were going to be regulars on this new leg promoting "You Are The Quarry" around the UK.
As was tradition on this tour Morrissey and his band hit the stage at the end of the "Imperfect List" intro. Morrissey greeted the audience with "Reading I'm humbly yours, good evening!" then, as the first song was started, posed with arms outstretched and head looking up. Only when the drums kicked in did the audience recognise "How Soon Is Now?". When they did, they roared in surprise and appreciation. The 2004 live arrangement of the song was very similar to the studio version. During the Smiths days, it hadn't been easy to recreate it on stage. The addition of second guitarist Craig Gannon to the Smiths' lineup on the The Queen Is Dead tour had improved it from the earlier Meat Is Murder tour arrangement, but it still lacked something. In 2004, besides his two guitarists, Morrissey had Mikey Farrell on synthesizers to fill in the sound.
After "How Soon Is Now?" Morrissey told the already sold audience "You are a sight for sore eyes... and these are very sore eyes..." To a few previously heard live changes in "November Spawned A Monster" he added "pity, sympathy and idiots discussing me". After the song he said "I hope you're not too exhausted, I hope you had a decent meal, and a decent pee, and... that's it really..." The returning "I Like You" was introduced with "This next song is from our recent album called 'You Are The Quarry' which (crowd cheers)... thank you, which amazingly we recorded very near to Reading... and... it that interesting Julia? I'm desperate for interesting information. Are you okay? Are you alright? I'm alright... It's called 'I Like You'!"
In the latter number Morrissey changed a line from "envy makes them cry" to "hatred makes them cry". After the song he interrupted a chant of his name to ask "Have you traveled from the North of England to sing that song?... But not from the South of England..." The Smiths classic "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" was introduced with the line "This song was sang about 35 years ago at Reading Hexagon and it went absolutely nothing like this..." This was incorrect as the Smiths had only done the song once at the end of 1986, in London, and their last date at Reading Hexagon was in March 1985.
BBC Radio 1 were sponsoring the festival and Morrissey had a jab at them when he introduced the recent single "Irish Blood, English Heart": "We very recently released two singles which... Radio 1 refused to play them both (crowd boos)... Could we please have a big boo for Radio 1 (crowd boos louder)..." After the song he introduced his band: "All of these musicians came direct from Reading jail. Would you please say hello to Boz Boorer... please say hello to Gary Day... please hello to Deano Drummerworth (pauses because the audience starts chanting Deano's name)... and to our new friend Jesse Tobias... and to a man of many parts, Mikey V Farrell... and my name is Sacha Distel..."
In "Now My Heart Is Full" Morrissey changed a few lines to "just some rain-coated lovers and their sisters" and "*I* rush to danger, *I* wind up nowhere". He also did previously heard changes such as "jammy Stretford poet" and "now this heart is full". He introduced "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" with the comment "I don't know if any of you have seen Emmerdale recently... but... I think you'll agree that the world is full of crashing bores... Poor Emmerdale... Have you seen Emmerdale Julia? Julia, it's crap!" Before going into the debuting "Munich Air Disaster 1958" he teasingly asked "Can you stand a few more? Somebody over there said no... bye bye!"
As an introduction to "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" Morrissey had a little story to share with the audience: "Roughly one year ago I was driving through Caversham at 12:30 at night and I was doing 32 in a 30 bla-bla-bla-bla zone and I... it resulted in three points off my license and a sixty pound fine and there wasn't another car or another person around for 100 miles so, Caversham, this song is not for you..." He added more emphasis to a line the latter classic by singing "I never want to go home... because I haven't got one, I haven't got one, believe me..." Next up, "Let Me Kiss You" was announced as "our new single" although it would not be released as such until October.
After "Let Me Kiss You" Morrissey announced "I really don't anticipate any plays on Radio 1... this song is called 'Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice'." His final words before the set closer were "Only one more song and then we'll go and (crowd boos)... don't sound too happy! Thanks for listening! I don't know how to..." That final song was the debuting "You Know I Couldn't Last" and in it Morrissey changed the two occurrences of the line "the critics who can't break you" to "the critics who cannot stand you" and "the critics who just hate you".
This concert was recorded and different subsets were broadcast on television at different times. The most comprehensive broadcast was on ITV2, it featured the complete set minus the final song "You Know I Couldn't Last". An earlier broadcast on ITV2 had only featured five songs: "How Soon Is Now", "November Spawned A Monster", "First Of The Gang To Die", "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" and "Let Me Kiss You". The complete set minus "You Know I Couldn't Last" was also webcast in video but the source here is unknown (perhaps the ITV2 webpage). The footage of "How Soon Is Now?" was shown in cinemas in 2005 before projections of Morrissey's 45th birthday gig in Manchester. These projections aimed at promoting the release of the "Who Put The M in Manchester" live DVD produced around the latter concert.
Note: "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores", "First Of The Gang To Die" and "I Like You" were also performed in the festival's AOL tent the day before this gig. The footage was made available by AOL for web viewing shortly after, see links on Morrissey-solo. MP3s of this session can be bought from iTunes USA as the "Sessions@AOL" EP.
As for the concert itself there are many DVD bootlegs featuring different sets in circulation. The best are the ones featuring the full broadcast, so that's the complete concert minus the final song ("You Know I Couldn't Last"). The DVDs produced from the webcast feature the same set, but in inferior quality. Some DVDs only feature the five-song set mentioned above. Finally a 2-song broadcast of "How Soon Is Now" and "November Spawned A Monster" can be found tagged at the end of other shows from the same era.
As for audio, a subpar audience recording of the complete set is circulated on compact discs and in digital format on the internet. This recording lacks some of the banter and a few songs were reversed.
Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.