26 March 2009|
New York (NY), Carnegie Hall
This Charming ManThis was a good show, nothing went wrong, but the classical nature of the venue had a stifling effect on the atmosphere. The assigned seating and cavernous space put up an invisible wall between the performer and his fans. As Morrissey feeds off the energy from the crowd, his performance on this date was in consequence more subdued, that most special connection was slightly askew. The singer was still playful and talkative, but often seemed distracted. He regularly missed lyrics, and not only during the encore.
Setlist-wise, the highlight of this concert was the live debut of "When Last I Spoke To Carol" from Morrissey's latest album "Years Of Refusal". This live addition was made at the expense of "Billy Budd".
Morrissey walked onstage at Carnegie Hall dressed in a dashing black tuxedo, looked around the room like someone wondering where they are, pretended to lose his footing over the monitor, then picked up the microphone and greeted the audience with the line "And to think, it was by Grand Central Station I sat down and wept", an obvious reference to one of his favourite novels, Elizabeth Smart's "By Grand Central I Sat Down And Wept". The band then launched into an unknown song, written down on the setlist under the title "Move". Morrissey didn't sing anything, he just paced the stage and said a few (undecipherable) things about or to his musicians, until the band ended it and segued straight into set opener "This Charming Man".
Morrissey forgot a few words here and there in the debuting "When Last I Spoke To Carol". The band took a long time getting ready for the Smiths classic "How Soon Is Now?" so Morrissey at some point asked them "Are we... are we all in the right place? And that's good?". After the song he announced "I should tell you that it's a great privilege to be in this hall... especially when you consider all the great names who trodded around here... Leonard Bernstein, Blossom Dearie, the entire cast from Lost In Space, James Darren... it's a privilege..." After the live staple "Irish Blood, English Heart" he just said "Thank you greatly..." As was tradition, he ended "Let Me Kiss You" by ripping his shirt off and going backstage to change into a fresh one. On this special occasion he returned holding the young son of his tour manager Charlie Browne, the same child he is seen holding on the cover of his latest album "Years Of Refusal". He told the audience "This is our star of 'Years Of Refusal', Sebastian..." before handing the child to someone from security.
Morrissey changed a line in "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" to "In the absence of your smiling face, I figure skate all over the place". After the song he proceeded with the introduction of the band: "From century to century we've watched men and women live and die... but this will never happen to you or I or, for that matter, to Boz Boorer... to Solomon Walker... to Matt Walker... to Jesse Tobias... to Kristopher Pooley... What, who am I? Well... I'm the great and filthy tide of life (makes smug face)..." Following "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" he told someone "You didn't make it to the Bowery Ballroom then? Well you're quite wise..." After the live favourite "The Loop" he said something that ended with "...LP I possess is by Burly Chassis... Does anybody know Burly Chassis?... Does anybody know Burly Chassis?... Who was he then?... Julia? Julia? Julia? They don't know Shirley Bassey! They don't know Shirley Bassey! They don't know Shirley Bassey! Julia!" After "I Keep Mine Hidden" he asked "Does anyone know that song? Anyone? Nobody? Don't lie just for the sake of the young ones here..."
After "Ask" Morrissey started to say "Now, I realise...", but then he saw irregular regular Winnie handing him a photograph, so he went to her, took the photo, and handed her the microphone for her to say 'from LA!' He replied something that sounded like "Oh, just something? I still have my own... Thank you..." He then introduced the next planned number, "Best Friend On The Payroll", by saying "The only person who is old enough to remember this next song, apart from me, is of course Winnie." He then turned to her and screeched while making a funny 'got you there!' face. To illustrate what he had just said, he shouted "blank faces!" over the opening bars of the latter number. Next up, "Mama Lay Softly On The Riverbed" was introduced with the brief "More sentimentality? Thus..." Over the opening bars of "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" Morrissey asked "What's this song? Nobody knows... Neither do I..."
Following "Death Of A Disco Dancer" Morrissey successively chatted with many fans in the front rows, handing the microphone to each person so they could share their side of the conversation with the whole audience. One fan told him that she loved him, to which he replied, "I cannot be loved. I cannot be loved. I'm like a dog from the rescue home. There's no point. There's really no point. Would anybody like to say anything really intelligent?" He then handed the microphone to someone else who told him that he broke his neck at one of his concerts. Morrissey replied "Well, just tell me it was worth it... (fan adds something) Really? (fans says more) Oh I see, so it wasn't at the concert (fan says more) You can't blame me..." Morrissey then moved down to someone else. This one said "Besides being spectacular, what are you gonna do about this global economy?" Morrissey's reply was "Can I be honest? I don't really care..." He then moved to another fan who wanted him to sign her arm. He made a face, ignored the request and moved down the front row, making a desperate face and weird impatient sounds. One final fan told Morrissey that he had been a fan of 22 years and requested "How Soon Is Now?" (which had already been played earlier in the show) while his neighbour screamed for "Suedehead". Morrissey simply told the audience "You see, no matter what you do, you can never please people..."
At the very end of "Sorry Doesn't Help" Morrissey said "The dead are dead...." After main set closer "I'm OK By Myself" he shouted "Shalom!" and fled backstage, followed by his musicians. After everyone came back and did the traditional line-and-bow, Morrissey's parting words were "Thank you to the people at Carnegie, you've been very nice... thank you to you for your continued faith... Against waves and waves and waves of persuasion, you're still here... And with one leg and one eye, so am I, let me sing and I'm happy..." It went unnoticed, but the latter words ("Let Me Sing And I'm Happy") are actually the title of an Al Jolson song. As was now tradition Morrissey sang the encore very distractedly while following the struggle between security and the fans trying to get on stage. He improvised many lyric changes, such as "until you've seen the stars what stars? under a sea of stars..." and "pretty honest thieves". At the end of the song he repeated "very happy people" over and over while shaking the hands of the front rows fans. This may have had something to do with the Al Jolson song he had just namedropped. After all was said and done, he exited the stage by walking like a zombie.
The complete concert (minus "Death Of A Disco Dancer" and some of the banter) was filmed by user TheSchemer. The footage is rather good, filmed from up close and reasonably steady. Instead of ending up on Youtube like this kind of footage usually does, this was organised as a chronological playlist and put up on Y! video. View here. Fan FWD had the brilliant idea of capturing all that footage and creating a DVD with it.
"When Last I Spoke To Carol", "I Keep Mine Hidden", "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" and various other in between song bits 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.