21 November 2006|
Chicago (USA), Aragon Ballroom
PanicMorrissey's only American date of 2006 - bar the three warm up shows at the very end of the tour - was a complete success. The man was very chatty, playful and genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself. There was a prohibitive six-foot moat between the stage and the floor, so attempts by fans to make it on stage were minimal. Morrissey still stretched out his arms as far as he could to shake a few hands, and perhaps encourage some fans to cross over. A few brave ones tried their luck near the end of the show, but were kept away from their idol by security.
The setlist was slightly resequenced and "Life Is A Pigsty" was reinstated for the American audience. Drummer Matt's brother, Solomon Walker, replaced Gary Day on this only American date of the leg, as Gary Day was able to make it. Solomon would eventually become Morrissey's regular bass player in February 2007.
Before going into set opener "Panic" Morrissey greeted his audience by saying "So you see, reports of my death have been just slightly exaggerated..." After the song he mocked himself for playing the Aragon again: "It's been many, many years since I first played this fabulous venue, it's my pleasure to say they finally have some decent toilet paper, so things are definitely looking up!" And then "I've destroyed 46 000 lives along the way... and I really don't care!" Throughout the evening he repeatedly told the audience that he loved them. He said something about putting his "beefy lockeroom arms" around Chicago and something like "You are a generous helping... of something beautiful". The crowd returned the love, to the point where Morrissey sometimes giggled because he couldn't get his words out for being drowned by the cheers. At some point the man even asked - in a joking way - to "shut up!" so he could finish what he was trying to say.
At his playful best Morrissey asked at some point "Are you drunk enough to want to hear some more?" Upon completion of one of the songs from the latest album "Ringleader Of The Tormentors" he joked "That was from my triple platinum album 'Ringleader Of The Tormentors", paused, then added that he was kidding. The show included the customary band introduction, but oddly, Morrissey only introduced Boz.
Other things Morrissey said didn't come down as well, particularly with the media when commenting about how the American journalists lack the necessary intelligence to understand him and how they ignore him "...and after all these years, there must be a reason... and do you know what that reason is? (someone yells something) No, it's not because i'm crap!" He then handed the microphone to his favourite fan Julia in the front row to hear her comment on what he had just said.
As always Morrissey took many liberties in "You Have Killed Me". He sang "Mozalini is me, Ann Sexton you'll never be" and further down, "Visconti is me, Gertrude Stein you'll alway be". He actually pointed at the Gertrude Stein backdrop behind him while singing the latter line, the same way he pointed to the Pasolini backdrop in Mexico when singing "Pasolini is me..." At the end of "Disappointed", after singing "this is the last song that I will ever sing", he motioned to the audience like an orchestra conductor as they shouted their disapproval.
Before or after "William, It Was Really Nothing" Morrissey said he hadn't done that song the first time he played the Aragon. But he was wrong... the song was actually slotted as set opener on that date. He slightly messed up in "Let Me Kiss You". He had already done the "but then you open your eyes..." part, was dancing around to the music and then returned to the microphone and started singing "but then...". Realising his mistake he cut himself off, waved his hands around, made a face and continued his little dance. In "I Will See You In Far Off Places" he changed the line "if the USA doesn't bomb you" to "if George W. Bush doesn't bomb you".
"Life Is A Pigsty" was again ended with "Auld Lang Syne", a beautiful echo to the way the Smiths' "Asleep" ended. As the very last note of "Auld Lang Syne" was heard, the band went immediately into the tremolo opening to "How Soon Is Now?", so the traditional piano piece served as a transition between two epic songs, a new-ish Morrissey one and a classic Smiths one. Soon after, as the end of the concert was approaching Morrissey said something like "When you go to beddy byes... dream a little dream of me..."
Returning to the stage after a short break to perform the encore, Morrissey and his musicians formed a line at the front and bowed. Then as everyone was taking their spot, Morrissey picked up the microphone and said - with much difficulty as the audience's cheers were drowning him out: "Thank for... thank you... thank you for... thanks... thank you for being, for being you..." Surprisingly he didn't flee backstage when the song was done. He tried helping someone on stage, then walked left and right along the edge, applauded with the audience, bowed and basked in the adulation.
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