6 March 2009|
Myrtle Beach (SC), House of Blues
Something Is Squeezing My SkullThe start of the Tour Of Refusal set the tone for the touring year ahead. After cancelling 4 dates in Florida Morrissey finally took the stage in Myrtle Beach but it would have been a better idea for him to wait a few more days before doing so because it was apparent that he was still ill. It all started on a good note and quickly deteriorated. After a few songs Morrissey's voice started giving out. He became less chatty, looked annoyed and upset, paced the stage back and forth and skipped lyrics. Even his musicians looked worried and not into it. It has been speculated also that the sound was not very good because Morrissey made a reference to that effect to the sound engineer at some point. The crowd was also not the most welcoming. The show was not sold out and parts of the audience hung around the bars rather than near the stage. Halfway through the show Morrissey decided to skip a song and near the end walked off stage without saying goodbye despite there being two titles left on the planned setlist.
There weren't really any surprises in the setlist for those who had heard the concert Morrissey had recently given to BBC Radio. The man sang more or less the same songs from his newest album "Years Of Refusal" that he had been doing for the past year. To the BBC set he added older numbers such as "Sister, I'm A Poet" (the only 2009 performance of that song), "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?" and "Ask" and setlist staples such as "Life Is A Pigsty", "How Soon Is Now?" and "First Of The Gang To Die". The skipped songs mentioned above were "That's How People Grow Up" (slotted following "Sister I'm A Poet"), "I'm OK By Myself" (planned as the main set closer) and "Irish Blood, English Heart" (the encore).
The show began promisingly with Morrissey striding onto stage with an autographed copy of "Years Of Refusal" (which he would later give to someone in the front rows) and some bits of paper which he set down in front of the kick drum. One of the pieces was a card with the words THERE WILL BE BLOOD on it. Morrissey greeted the audience with the words "Nothing could be finer..." (from the local slogan 'nothing could be finer than Carolina)) before the band launched into the opening number. Following that first song Morrissey commented on the recent concert cancellations by saying "Reports of my death are obviously untrue... sadly!" Shortly after that he thanked the audience for buying the new album and handed a signed copy of the LP to a fan in the front rows.
At some point Morrissey called the show a cheap Friday night date and some fans took this as an allusion to the poor ticket sales. He asked the crowd how they liked the new president, got a cheer in response so he punctuated by saying "Good!". He may have said at some point "This year I turn 40". Before "Best Friend On The Payroll" he said "We all have filthy pasts..." After the latter number he told the sound engineer "It's not gonna work out if you don't turn it down." He started missing words here and there in "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris", but by "Seasick Yet Still Docked" it was clear to everyone present that he was struggling with his voice. He was trying to carry on but couldn't hide his frustration. Following "Sister, I'm A Poet", Boz and Jesse switched guitars and keyboardist Kristopher took out the accordion for the next planned number "That's How People Grow Up". However Morrissey told them to skip to the next song so the guitarists switched guitars again and Kristopher put the accordion away.
Near the end of "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" Morrissey went backstage to change shirts and his musicians finished the song alone while looking concerned, as if they were wondering whether or not their boss was going to return. After the song Boz went back stage and finally returned with Morrissey and the glasses that are used in live performances of "Life Is A Pigsty". Morrissey started singing "it's the same old SOS", then stopped and turned his back to the audience. After a bit he turned back around and tried the line again. He sang "it's the same old SOS" and then repeated "SOS" several times. He turned away from the audience again and put something (possibly a lozenge) into his mouth. He then faced the audience once more and was able to continue with the song. Near the end his voice cut out again so the audience sang the line "Even now in the final hour of my life I'm falling in love".
As was tradition the latter number segued into "How Soon Is Now?" via a keyboard interlude of the "Happy Birthday" song. On this date Morrissey actually wished "happy birthday" to someone while the ditty was being played. His musicians' earlier fears were justified because following "How Soon Is Now?" he went backstage again and this time he did not return. The band looked puzzled but they followed him. As some fans started to cheer for an encore, Frank Sinatra's "That's Life" started playing, signalling the end of the show. For a brief moment there seemed to be confusion between Morrissey's security and the sound engineer, but when the roadies started disassembling the drum set, it was clear that the show was over. Morrissey had simply had enough and walked off without finishing the planned set or saying goodbye.
A snippet of "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" is featured on "Nights Of Refusal" volume 1, a compilation DVD featuring HD Youtube material from the first half of the American leg of the Tour Of Refusal.
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