22 May 2009
Manchester (UK), Apollo

This Charming Man
Irish Blood, English Heart
Black Cloud
How Soon Is Now?
All You Need Is Me
How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?
Girlfriend In A Coma
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Let Me Kiss You
Ask
Something Is Squeezing My Skull
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?
The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
I Keep Mine Hidden
When Last I Spoke To Carol
Best Friend On The Payroll
Sorry Doesn't Help
Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others
The Loop
I'm OK By Myself
/First Of The Gang To Die
This was Morrissey's 50th birthday and it was one of the best shows of this tour. Morrissey was in high spirits, quite theatrical and energetic. He was slightly less chatty than usual, but he still cracked jokes for the audience. Actually there were signs of strain in his voice at times, so he might have been less talkative because he was sparing it. The crowd was very receptive and appreciative. It loudly sang along to the old Smiths classics as well as more recent material such as "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris". At times the pit resembled an angry sea, with fans desperate to surf on to the stage to touch their hero. People had to be pulled out from the front all night long from exhaustion. Of course Morrissey revelled in it and rewarded the brave ones with a touch or a handshake.

The setlist was the same as on the previous date, plus "Sorry Doesn't Help".

The roar of the crowd when Morrissey came on stage was deafening. The singer was clearly very moved. It seemed to last for ages before he was able to pick up the microphone and greet the audience by saying "Fifty gruesome years!" After the Smiths classic "How Soon Is Now?" he interrupted a chant of his name to shout "Chatsworth Buccaneers", an allusion to the fact that there were cast members of the Manchester-based series Shameless in the audience. He made quite a few changes in "All You Need Is Me" besides the usual ones, such as "All you can do is sit there and complain about me", "you ask me what the hell will I be when I grow up to be a man, ha-ha, really funny!" and "who could this be? I'm sorry, it's me."

Over the opening bars of "How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel" Morrissey repeated "Could it be, could it be, could it be..." He extended a line in the latter number to "the future is passing you by, I'm sorry, but the future is passing you by". After that song he proceeded with the introduction of the band: "We fear no foe and we are Boz Boorer... we are Solomon Walker... Matt Walker... the lovely Jesse Tobias... (under his breath) just kidding... the lovely Kristopher Pooley, and just for the record I'm actually not 50, I'm 40-10..." As he was saying those last words the band started playing the happy birthday tune and, led by Boz, band and crowd all sang it in unison. The singer's face showed that he was very touched. Over the tune's final "happy birthday to you" he shouted "... to me!", then took a fanmade poster of himself that was handed to him by someone in the front row. He held it up so everyone could see it while he asked the band "Did you rehearse that?... Well it sounds like it... Gracias!"

After the usual lyric change to "it's macho military might that will bring us together" in "Ask", Morrrissey shouted "you too!" As was becoming tradition he introduced his recent single "Something Is Squeezing My Skull" with a complaint about its lack of distribution: "Now... even if you really did have a little miner's light on your head and a degree in anthropology, you couldn't really find our last single... Well, that's the story I tell myself anyway..." After "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell" he made another allusion to the presence of cast members of Shameless: "Now I'm not saying that Ardwick Apollo is the Garden Of Eden, but I'm very grateful, very grateful. You're very gracious, and I'm very grateful... make no mistake..." He bridged "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?" to "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" by paraphrasing the former in order to introduce the latter: "I have been desperately dreaming of a time when somebody says no to a Brit Award, somebody says no to the phony Mercury Music Prize (crowd cheers)... but until the day when somebody says no... the world is full of crashing bores..."

Following the latter number Morrissey had his customary chit-chat with various fans in the front rows. However, being in a playful mood, he teased a few of them with the microphone before finally letting someone have it: "Would you like to say something? Would you? (hands microphone but quickly pulls it back as someone goes for it) No you wouldn't... Are you busy? You're busy. Would you like to say? (hands microphone then pulls back) No? Anybody like to say something?" Following this, Morrissey finally gave in and handed the microphone to someone who told him to "be young, be foolish, be happy" (the title of a song he likes), then wished him happy birthday.

Morrissey playfully changed a line in "When Last I Spoke To Carol" to "I've hammered a smile across this ugly mush of mine". But the lyric change that was most remembered was the one to "when I was born in 1959", which had everyone cheer. After the song Morrissey replied to someone with a quick "same to you!" After "Sorry Doesn't Help" there was another chat session with fans in the front rows. He asked "Are you well-ish? No? Can I interest you in a microphone? No?" then mocked a few people shouting things. He finally handed the microphone to a man who said "Mozzer, I can't quite believe it. Happy birthday mate!" before passing the microphone to his neighbour, a young woman who declared "Morrissey, I love you, you handsome devil!"

After the sing-along fest that was "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" Morrissey teasingly asked the crowd "Can you bear any more? (crowd: yeah!) Is that your honest view?" When he and the band returned to the stage before the encore they all lined up at the front as they usually did, arms around each other, and bowed. Being in a playful mood, Morrissey then dragged the band down and they all collapsed to the floor. Everyone returned to their respective position on stage and before going into the encore Morrissey had parting words for the crowd: "People have to be silly, even now... thanks for your time and your love (crowd cheers)... happy birthday to Ernie, and God bless you..." Halfway into "First Of The Gang To Die" he pulled on stage a fan who was struggling with security, and rewarded the singing crowd by shouting "All my children!" At the end of the song he repeated "God bless you!", thanked everyone, then fled backstage.

A special birthday laminate was given away at the door to the first people who arrived (view here). Besides the usual merchandise, two commemorative t-shirts were also for sale from the merchandise table (view black, white-front, white-back), as well as signed lithographs of the "Years Of Refusal" front artwork (20).

 


A quite good audience recording of the complete concert is circulated on bootlegs (recorder: Yousef). This is usually found with artwork under the title "Live At The Manchester Apollo 22nd May 2009". There is a second recording out there, this one credited to Johnky, but it has yet to make it to common circulation. Loose video files are also traded on the internet.

 

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