21 March 2009
New York (NY), Bowery Ballroom

This Charming Man
Billy Budd
Black Cloud
How Soon Is Now?
Irish Blood, English Heart
Let Me Kiss You
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
Seasick, Yet Still Docked
The Loop
I Keep Mine Hidden
The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?
Best Friend On The Payroll
Sorry Doesn't Help
Something Is Squeezing My Skull
I'm OK By Myself
/First Of The Gang To Die
This may have been one of the best concerts of this tour. The venue was very small, intimate and packed wall-to-wall with fans. Morrissey was extremely playful, talkative and energetic, he was clearly feeding off the energy of the very raucous and loving New York crowd. There were no stage invasions, mostly because before the show the front rows were asked by Morrissey's own security not to climb up, as there was no barricade and the stage was too small. The few who still tried were pushed back by security. Over the length of the show many fans had to be warned and a few were actually expelled.

In the setlist, "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" was replaced with "That's How People Grow Up", but the latter song, just like "Death Of A Disco Dancer", was skipped.

"I do believe I can smell your draft," Morrissey announced upon taking the stage. This was the first of a few comments relating to the smell of marijuana hanging over the crowd. He then introduced the opening number "This Charming Man" by saying "And I'm glad you came tonight because... otherwise... tonight's manifesto is this...." He playfully illustrated the line "everyone's laughing" in "Billy Budd" by following it with a string of "ha-ha-ha-ha ha-ha-ha-ha!". Following "Black Cloud" he joked about how the crowd was packed tight by asking "Does anybody have on their person a dead cat? I'd like to see if I can swing it..." One common lyric change in "How Soon Is Now?" at the time was the one to "see I've already waited too long and most of my life is gone. On this date Morrissey punctuated this line by adding "Thank God! Thank the lord, thank the lord!"

After "How Soon Is Now?", which as usual ended with Matt banging the gong behind him, Morrissey said "If ever a venue was made for a gong, it's the Bowery Ballroom..." He then commented again on the smell of marijuana, while wafting smoke into his face: "And I, I must confess I'm not really used to this interesting smell... and I warn you, it could have a very interesting effect on me... so if I were you, I'd stand back... but I'm not you..." He roared his way through "Irish Blood, English Heart", improvising many minor lyric changes. After the song he replied to various things shouted his way from the audience: "Yes, what's wrong? Are you feeling uncomfortable? (fan: 'I love you!') Well, I'm the type who just cannot be loved. I just can't. I've tried... Very (?)... I live life in the fast lane, the mean lane, I cannot be loved. However, at this moment, I would like to say..." What he wanted to say was "Let Me Kiss You" because that's the song he went into.

Morrissey roared through the latter number as well. He improvised many minor changes, such as "Excuse me, would you let me cry on your shoulder I've heard that you'll try virtually anything twice". After the song he proceeded with the customary introduction of the band: "It's incredible to think... it's incredible to think... in 1613, the year 1613, he was destroyed by fire, but he's still here, the wonderful Boz Boorer... Or perhaps, perhaps you fancy Solomon Walker?... Or perhaps you'd rather have Matt Walker... It's very unlikely but maybe you're attracted to Jesse Tobias!... Here he is, Kristopher Pooley... (fan: 'who are you?') Who am I? Well, this is a question that many have died trying to answer... and many shall! And I can only say one thing: I can only be identified on a slab by the scars of pain..."

Surprisingly, "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" brought a big portion of the audience into a massive sing-along. Morrissey changed a line into the song to "in the absence of your smiling face I scoot all over the place". He dedicated "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" to various New York gangsters: "For Leo Gorcey, for Billy Hallop, for George Raft... all the great names of the Bowery... all of which you have obviously forgotten... but I'm here to remember them with this madrigal of a song... I think..." After the song he tenderly told his fans "The history or possible greatness of any pop artist is in the greatness of their influences and so many of mine came from this glorious city (crowd cheers)... which, I'm sure, was... a complete accident. But nonetheless, we can fill our hearts... Shall we? Fill our hearts? Dare you risk it? Well, put it this way, put it this way, we had a fantastic time in Buffalo, and we had a fantastic time in Pittsburgh... What?"

Following "I Keep Mine Hidden" Morrissey thanked his opening band: "Thank you to the Courteeners for coming all this way... and roll this way, smelling all this smoke... very brave of them..." After "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" he asked "So... so what the hell happens now? (fan: 'sing your life!') Well I am. This is my life... and I don't give a damn for lost innocence..." He changed a line in "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?" to "some nice men here, they have a special interest in your strange career". After the song he simply said "written in pain...", then answered something shouted his way with the question "says who?" After "Ask" he made an announcement relating to the other two New York City concerts "So, in a few days we will be in a slightly posher part of town... so obviously none of you will be there... nice meeting you..."

Following "Best Friend On The Payroll" Morrissey gave a fan the chance to say something: "What? Now, please, please, speak in a very clear voice... there's some people here you know... (hands microphone to fan who tells Morrissey how he has had an impact on his life and how much he loves him; Morrissey grins then tells audience) Is he making fun of me? He will, one day..." Following "Sorry Doesn't Help" he had a few more words with the fan: "Yes? Would you like to? What, was that it or would you like some more? What? What? Do we trust him?" He then handed the microphone to someone else who said something about Solomon and Matt being Morrissey's "best - pardon my French - fucking rhythm section" so when he got the microphone back Morrissey simply quipped "That's not French, it's English!... Now, after that delightful speech... we have been... like a jealously guarded can of sardines... (someone shouts something, Morrissey makes face) Pardon me?"

Before going into main set closer "I'm OK By Myself", Morrissey told the audience "It's been very enjoyable to stand in front of you and... do whatever the hell this is... Is it art? What is art?... Well..." When he and the band returned to the stage for the final song, they did the traditional line and bow and before going into the encore, Morrissey sang a few lines from "You'll Never Walk Alone": "when you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and (mumbles and laughs)..." As had become a habit on this tour he didn't pay much attention to the words in encore "First Of The Gang To Die" as he was too busy following the fans trying to climb on stage and their struggle with security. Amongst many improvised changes he sang "you have never been in love, you haven't! until you've grabbed me and dragged me down by the reservoirs" and "we are the pretty very honest thieves". At the very end of the song he shouted "All the world's a stage!", shook a few more hands, then fled.

"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 5 days down the road on the third of three New York City shows.


An excellent audience recording of this concert is circulated on physical and digital bootlegs (recorder: midynyc). What's so great about it is how the recording captured both Morrissey and the crowd's energy, making it one of collectors favourites of 2009. There is another audience recording of this concert out there, but it has not been shared much yet.

"This Charming Man", "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" and "First Of The Gang To Die" are 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.


Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.