17 April 2009|
Indio (CA), Coachella Music Festival
This Charming ManFestival appearances are rarely the ideal setting for the Morrissey experience and Coachella 2009 was no exception. It looked like the whole set was a struggle for Morrissey: microphone or playback difficulties, the smell of meat being cooked nearby (read further), the 20-foot gap between stage and crowd making contact impossible, and the lack of interest of a crowd mostly there for Paul McCartney (scheduled to play after Morrissey). Despite all this Morrissey gave the best of himself and many fans were still happy with his performance.
This being a festival appearance, Morrissey was probably only allotted one hour. So the set was trimmed down to 15 song and the titles that got the axe were "Billy Budd", "Best Friend On The Payroll", "Something Is Squeezing My Skull", "I Keep Mine Hidden", "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" and "I'm OK By Myself".
As Morrissey walked on stage he greeted the audience with a shout of "Hola!" then the request "Can I serenade you? (crowd: yeah!)... I'll try..." For the first time since the opening date of this tour "First Of The Gang To Die" was not slotted as the encore. This meant that Morrissey wasn't distracted by the struggle between security and the fans trying to get on stage and managed to sing the lyrics properly. This didn't stop him from pulling back an old lyric change: "the first lod lad to go where else?, under the sod" Over the closing bars of the song he repeated the evening's greeting: "Can I serenade you? Yes? No? Yes-no-yes-no!...." Then after the song he teasingly asked the crowd "Are you standing uncomfortably? (crowd: yes!) Good!"
Starting with "Black Cloud" Morrissey was seen pulling faces and covering his ear, a sign that he was having difficulty hearing himself properly. After the song he said "Thank you, you're very gracious, thank you..." then introduced "Girlfriend In A Coma" with the words "Our chanson, our love song..." He ended the song with the slightly alternate "let me whisper my final goodbye, goodbye..." He then addressed the subject that was troubling him: "Is the sound ok?... It's rough up here... I'll try and imagine... I'm trying..." He playfully changed lines in "Irish Blood, English Heart" to "I've been dreaming of a time when when? when? when?" and "denounce this stupid royal line that still salute him and they will salute him for ever, what? what? what?"
Over the opening bars of "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?" Morrissey said "A friend, a friend..." He was even more playful with the latter number's lyrics, usually a sign that he was getting bored with it. He sang "they said they respect me, really!?", "they said they want to befriend me, befriend me!?", "the future is passing me by" and "I would never be you, officer". In "When Last I Spoke To Carol" he followed the line "I can't pretend it gets easier" with "it doesn't". At the very end of the song keyboardist Kristopher mistakenly played the "We told you!" sample usually heard in "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?".
After "When Last I Spoke To Carol", as the smell of barbequed meat from nearby food stands wafted through the air, Morrissey complained, "I can smell burning flesh and I hope to God it's human..." Over the opening bars of following number "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" he looked disgusted and made retching noises. His heart was not in the song at all. He ad-libbed "some girls mothers are bigger than other girls mothers, apparently" and struggled with the additional live-only verse, singing "on the shop floor, there's a calendar, and it's pointing... as if you didn't know..." Then at some point he decided he had had enough and left the stage while his band finished the song. There was a moment of panic in the crowd when fans were afraid Morrissey would not return. But the singer eventually did, and explained, "The smell of burning animals is making me sick... I can't bear it..."
Morrissey took many liberties with the lyrics of "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris". He sang "in the absence of any kind of touch", "in the absence of your smiling face I fall all over the place" and "yes you've made yourself plain, as always you've made yourself very plain". Following the line "only stone and steel accept my love" he shouted "yes! ask anyone!". After the song he asked the tame audience "Can you bear anymore?" He self-deprecatingly extended a line in "Seasick, Yet Still Docked" to "you must be such a fool or very wise to pass me by". After the song he replied to someone's shouts by his own "Yes! Tell me now! It's now or never! Tomorrow will be too late!" After "The Loop" he asked "What's wrong now?... Is there anything I can do to make it worse?"
Morrissey slightly extended a line in "Sorry Doesn't Help" to "you say 'live and let live', why?". After the song's final line "sorry won't undo all the good gone wrong, my love...", he added "well you can try..." He was very playful with "Ask". He sang "Ask me I won't say no, how could I? How could I?", and after plugging his ear because of the sound troubles, he sang "nature is a language, can anybody hear?". Over the song's closing bars he shouted "Why? Why? Why? Why?"
As was tradition, after the line "and you see someone that you physically despise" at the end of "Let Me Kiss You", Morrissey removed his shirt and threw it to the fans. However, given the distance between the stage and the crowd, the shirt landed in front of the barricade, out of reach to everyone except for security. So before running backstage to change, Morrissey had to motion to security to pick up the shirt and give it to someone. In set closer "How Soon Is Now?" he extended a line to "I am the son and heir of absolutely nothing in particular" and combined an old lyric change with a new one when he sang "look at this face, most of my life is gone".
The concert was filmed and the complete set minus "When Last I Spoke To Carol" and the botched "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" was webcast on the AT&T webpage.
Collectors of digital bootlegs should be aware that the 6-song bootleg commonly found on the internet is just a partial set of the webcast audio, so even completists will have no use for it.
The video webcast footage has not made it onto DVDs yet. It is not even circulated in digital files on the internet, or at least not as a complete set. However the near-complete show is featured on "Nights Of Refusal" volume 2, a compilation DVD featuring HD Youtube material from the second half of the American leg of the Tour Of Refusal. The footage found here is a mix of the webcast footage (whatever At&T didn't manage to pull off Youtube), the big screen footage as filmed by people in the crowd, and the usual fan-made footage shot from the crowd. The audio for this is a mix of the webcast audio and the Javier recording mentioned above.
Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.