16 March 2009|
Montclair (NJ), Wellmont Theatre
This Charming ManThis was a great show. Morrissey was in good spirits, chatty, and sounded excellent. The audience was very receptive at the front, but not as much in the rest of the venue. The crowd really woke up during the encore when it looked like everyone wanted to get on stage at the same time and the situation became chaotic. Unfortunately, thanks to tough security and a barrier set 4 feet from the stage, only one fan was successful. The situation almost turned tragic however, as the pressure from everyone pushing forward made the barrier come within inches of collapsing and taking everyone with it. Morrissey, who was shaking as many hands as possible, was clearly impressed.
A few minor changes were made to the setlist order and in the process "Irish Blood, English Heart" replaced the lesser known cover of the Buzzcocks' "You Say You Don't Love Me" while "Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed" replaced its albummate "It's Not Your Birthday Anymore".
As he walked on stage Morrissey basked in the adulation for a short time, then greeted the audience by singing a line from local hero Bruce Springsteen's current single, "I'm workin' on a dream...", then added "Oh no, I'm not!" At some point early on he told the audience that he sympathized with anyone who worshipped a pop star. He also asked "Do you find me insane (fan: 'I love you')... Do you actually feel, in any remote way, athletic?", before going into the classic "How Soon Is Now?" After the song he said "Poetry, when registered in sound, sounds nothing like this..." He ended "Irish Blood, English Heart" with a St. Patrick's Eve salute of "Slainte!", then said that the holiday was "...the most important day in your historical calendar... so I trust the beer and everything else will flow to maximum... and to hell with the people who feel obliged to tell you what to do and how to behave..."
After the title words in "Let Me Kiss You" Morrissey pointed successively at each of his breasts then to his stomach while saying "there, there, and there". As was tradition he ripped his shirt open near the end of the song and threw it into the audience. He then ran backstage to change into a fresh one, but went the wrong way so fans got a second glimpse of him as he came back to try another exit. Besides previously heard changes in "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris", he also sang "in the absence of your love and in the absence of any kind of touch". After that song he proceeded with the traditional introduction of the band. He started with Boz, then continued: "If you cross your eyes you will see Solomon Walker... if your eyes switch sockets you will see Matt Walker... if you close your eyes you can hear Jesse Tobias... otherwise you will see Kristopher Pooley... and was I ever born, was I ever born? No? Was I ever born, was I ever born? No one can answer these questions. Boz? Was I ever born?"
In earlier live performances of "Ask" Morrissey had gotten into the habit of changing a line to "it's the nuclear bomb that will bring us together". However lately he had been trying new changes, until this show when he settled on: "if it's not love... then it's military might, it's macho military might that will bring us together". After that song he informed the audience "I was going to tell you about our dressing rooms, but we didn't have any... we had to get changed on the street... So, if you saw us, and you were appalled, or excited (crowd cheers)..." A few songs further down the setlist he introduced "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" with the announcement "I know some of you must think, 'why bother?' but we are about to release a new single in England, and it's from 'Years Of Refusal' and, that's it really..." He changed a line in that song to "somebody peel it back and bite me".
Following the latter number Morrissey commended the audience for "supporting decent music" and added that this was "very rare." After "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" he asked "What the hell is there to do in Montclair...besides going to Whole Foods? If it weren't for Whole Foods, I would be dead... because in America, you can't eat anywhere else... Did you know they're trying to kill you with the food? Have you noticed everything advertised on American television actually kills you. There's a reason for this. I don't know it..." After "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?" he said something about the "wacky, wonderful world of musical expression" and ended with the sarcastic "choose Pals Diner..." He was actually referring to a local steakhouse called Pals Cabin. Halfway into "Best Friend On The Payroll" he pointed at his right armpit and said "it's soaked!" He changed a line in the latter number to "it's not gonna work out, how the hell can it work out?" and shortly after, pointed at himself and sang "this is not gonna work out, I, will go".
Morrissey struggled with his voice during "Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed" and this affected his delivery which was slightly out of sync. It was obvious this annoyed him as he was seen shaking his head. So when the song reached the bridge he moved to one side of the stage and some fans feared that he might walk out, but he didn't. He let his band finish the song as an instrumental while he paced, his back to the audience. After this, all was fine again. He made what is assumed to be a veiled reference to Bruce Springsteen before going into main set closer "I'm OK By Myself": "I think you know who we mean... 75000 tickets in ten minutes... not me!" He followed the song's opening line "Could this be an arm around my waist?" with a shout of "no!"
When Morrissey and the band returned to the stage for the encore, they lined up at the front as usual for the group bow, but Morrissey knocked everyone off-balance and they tumbled to the stage in a happy heap. After everyone took their respective position, the singer told the audience "And if I seem a little strange, that's because I am..." As detailed above, the show almost ended in chaos. Morrissey started "First Of The Gang To Die" by singing "you have never been in love until you've seen the stars down by the reservoirs and you have never been in love until you've seen my blood rise behind the Home For The Blind" He was then too busy following the action in front and around him to pay attention to the lyrics of the song. He hummed parts of it, mumbled words, improvised lyric changes, etc.
"When Last I Spoke To Carol" was heard at soundcheck. The song had yet to be played in front of a live audience. It would be debuted 10 days down the road in New York City.
"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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