21 May 2006|
First Of The Gang To DieThis second of three consecutive Sundays at the London Palladium was a contrast to the first one. Morrissey was in really good spirits, very communicative and even seemed a bit embarrassed by the outpouring of affection. He shook hands relentlesly with fans in the front rows. The crowd was enthusiastic and vocal but perhaps a bit static.
This concert saw the live debut of the album track "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now". The New York Dolls cover "Human Being" was reintroduced into the set for the first time in a few weeks. To make space for these, the fan favourite "Trouble Loves Me" as well as "Let Me Kiss You" were temporarily dropped from the setlist.
As he took the stage, looking stunning in a tuxedo and bow-tie, Morrissey had a surprise intro for his fans. Backed by a subtle melody played on the piano by Michael, he sang the opening line to his early solo song "Margaret On A Guillotine", but updated the subject: "the kind people have a wonderful dream, Tony Blair on the guillotine". This was obviously loudly cheered by the audience and immediately set the tone of the evening. This intro led into the opening song "First Of The Gang To Die" in which Morrissey emphasized a line by singing "You have never been in love... trust me! until you've seen sunlight thrown..." After the song he greeted the audience "Welcome back!".
After an extremely well received "Still Ill" Morrissey made the comment "What would Leslie Crowther say?" He was answered with blank stares, so continued "... Leslie Crowther? Never mind..." (Leslie Crowther was a British comedian) After "The Youngest Was The Most Loved" he said "So this really is Sunday Night at The London Palladium... just in case you don't know..." This was a reference to the classic television series from the 1950s and 1960s that was filmed live from the Palladium. In "In The Future When All's Well" Morrissey emphasized a line by singing "the future is ended by a long sleep, thank God!". After he song he commented on the Eurovision Song contest which had taken place the night before: "And of course I was horrified, yet not really surprised to see the United Kingdom fail again in the Eurovision Song contest... and the question that kept running through my mind was why didn't they ask me? They had no imagination!"
Morrissey kept being handed birthday cards and being wished happy birthday, so after "To Me You Are A Work Of Art" he announced "Well, it's not my birthday yet... but when it is, which is tomorrow... (crowd cheers but Morrissey makes a disapproving face) Err... I could die tonight! But I'll be so relieved to say goodbye to my thirties... Funny? No..." After "Girlfriend In A Coma" he seemed flattered by the crowd chanting his name and said "Not necessary... very nice, but not necessary". He took many liberties with the lyrics in "You Have Killed Me". Besides a few common live changes, he sang "What the hell is my life for", "Morrissey is me, Anna Magnani you will always be" and "Til you came with the key and you did okay but..."
The customary band introduction was taken care of after "I Will See You In Far Off Places": "Would you please ragging and clatter for the one who must be obeyed, Boz Boorer... for the very dear Gary Day... and today is his birthday, Matt Walker!... the very exotic and very sultry Jesse Tobascus... Tobias!... and a very brave man, Michael Farrell... and I am the singer! (loud cheers) Steady, steady, steady..." After "The Father Who Must Be Killed" Morrissey announced the following title on the setlist by linking the two songs with "Well, so much for family life, this song is called 'Ganglord'." After the latter number he interrupted a chant of his name to announce "So Freddy Garrity is dead... (fans shout comments) What? What was that? Will you miss Freddy Garrity?"
As he was about to go into "At Last I Am Born", Morrissey replied to someone in the audience with the question "Manchester?". In the latter song he sang the slightly different "Historians write this down". As an introduction to "How Soon Is Now?" he spat his venom at the British radio stations that had decided not to play his newest single: "So nothing's changed, we still hate Radio One, we still hate Virgin Radio, and the list is endless." After the New York Dolls cover "Human Being" he joked "I bumped into Anita Harris backstage and she asked me to sing that song... I don't know why?" Anita Harris was a British actress and singer who had played in a few Carry On film, amongst others.
The most intense moment of the evening came when Morrissey dedicated "Life Is A Pigsty" to his late cousin: "Last year in Manchester my cousin was murdered and I'd like to sing this song for him". The announcement muted the audience who, bar a few individuals, listened to the song with religious respect. Now that it was moved down to the position of set closer, its ending was extended with a noisy jam backed by a very moving piano line. The ending or the dedication seemed to have touched the audience because it took a few seconds for them to come out of their daze and start cheering after the song was done. Morrissey returned to the stage after a short break to perform the encore while the crowd was singing Happy Birthday to him.
Thanks to Geoffrey Burbridge for review collaboration.
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