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After a few weeks warming up in America and Europe, Morrissey played this extensive 30-date tour of the UK. Whatever reviewers had to say about these concerts, they all agreed that Morrissey was on top of his game vocally, that he had never sounded better before.
Something that started to be noticed at this point in time is that Morrissey didn't welcome fans on stage as much as he did before. The tradition of stage invasions and Morrissey constantly being interrupted by fans hugging and kissing him were almost over.
The Italian flag adorned both the drum kit and guitarist Boz Boorer's double headed guitar. On the final date of this leg the flag on the bass drum was replaced by the word HAPPINESS. This was a nod or tribute to Ken Dodd. His song "Happiness" was on the intermission tape and when he had played the Palladium many years before, he had that word written on the drum's skin. A big gong was still hanging behind drummer Matt, with the word TORMENTORS on it.
Personnel: Boz Boorer - guitar; Jesse Tobias - guitar and occasional cymbals; Gary Day - bass; Michael Farrell - keyboards (also hit drum with mallet in "Life Is A Pigsty"); Matt Walker - drums.
Not all of the above was available in every city.
Stinky Toys - "Boozy Creed"
Newest album "Ringleader Of The Tormentors" was represented by 11 of its 12 songs. Singles "You Have Killed Me" and "The Youngest Was The Most Loved", future single "I Just Want To See The Boy Happy" as well as "At Last I Am Born", "I Will See You In Far Off Places", "Life Is A Pigsty" and "To Me You Are A Work Of Art" were performed each night. Future single "In The Future When All's Well" was reintroduced into the setlist (it had very rarely been played before) in Whitehaven and was a regular for most of the leg after that. "On The Streets I Ran" and "The Father Who Must Be Killed" were each done on about half or a third of the dates, rarely both on the same night. Finally "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now" was saw its live debut one week before the end of the leg. It remained in the set for that final week.
The album's b-sides "Ganglord", "A Song From Under The Floorboards" and "Human Being" were played on and off although some of them would only be released on future singles after this leg. The latter two titles were actually covers and generally replaced each other for the first week and a half. Then after "Ganglord" was introduced into the set in Greenock, they were rarely performed.
Previous album "You Are The Quarry" was represented by its first three singles. "First Of The Gang To Die" was slotted as the set opener on most dates, and "Irish Blood, English Heart" as encore, except on two occasions when Morrissey didn't return for an encore. "Let Me Kiss You" was performed on all nights except two. The deluxe edition of the album was represented by "My Life Is A Succession Of People Saying Goodbye". It started off as regular but became part-timer after the introduction of "Ganglord" and was completely dropped in the second half of the leg.
Morrissey's solo back catalogue was barely represented on this tour. "Maladjusted"'s "Trouble Loves Me" was a near-regular for the first three quarters of the leg, then dropped when album track "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now" was introduced. "Southpaw Grammar"'s "Reader Meet Author" started off as regular but was rarely played after the reintroduction of album track "In The Future When All's Well".
The Smiths' back catalogue was better represented than Morrissey's solo back catalogue. "Girlfriend In A Coma", "How Soon Is Now?" and "Still Ill" were regulars throughout. The latter song was only dropped once, on the final date when "Panic" made its live debut and "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" was reintroduced into the set. "How Soon Is Now?" was near-standard main set closer, while "Still Ill" was almost always slotted following standard set opener "First Of The Gang To Die".
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 30 concerts.
At Last I Am Born - 30
Click here for more tour statistics.
"Reader Meet Author" was adapted to the new century by the change of one line to "The year 2000, it hasn't changed anyone here". Morrissey also often sang "you hear the way this sad voice sings", which probably implied that the author in question listens to Morrissey. In "At Last I Am Born" the man usually sang "vegetarians know" instead of "vulgarians know". In the latter half of this leg he also changed "difficult child" to "miserable child". Once in a while he replaced "historians note" by "historians write this down". In "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now" Morrissey sang the final line as "it only hurts me because it's true".
In "I Will See You In Far Off Places" Morrissey usually changed lines to "It's so easy for us to stand here together, but it's so hard for the flesh to combine" as he had done on previous legs. In Scotland he reverted to the original lyrics for a few dates, then ended the line with "...but it's so hard for the minds to combine" for a few more. In new addition and future b-side "Ganglord" Morrissey often inverted lines in the "Ganglord, there's a clock on the wall" verse. In "In The Future When All's Well", Morrissey always sang "something must have gone wrong" instead of "... right".
In "Trouble Loves Me", Morrissey made many minor lyrical changes, including "somebody hold me" and "somebody kill me" instead of "otherwise hold me" and "otherwise kill me" He also sometimes sang "to chide me but never to guide me" and "which is only the way it should be". At some point the latter change even morphed into "which is exactly the way it should be". But more importantly the song was always preceded by a different piano intro of a well known local song. See individual dates for details. In "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before", like he did in 1988 or earlier on this tour, Morrissey sang "so I drank one, or was it four?". Just like earlier on the tour he also changed a line "I still love you only slightly, only slightly more than I used to, my love".
At the beginning of "Life Is A Pigsty" Boz played glasses filled with water which he would sometimes subsequently drink. Trumpet was added during the bridge of "Let Me Kiss You". On quite a few dates Morrissey suggestively changed a line in the latter song to "I heard that you'll try anyone twice". The outro to usual main set closer "How Soon Is Now?" was extended with drummer Matt banging on the gong and on a diagonally set bass drum while Jesse posed as rock god and improvised guitar lines. When "Life Is A Pigsty" took that position for some time in the latter quarter of the leg, it was also extended, but with a sad and beautiful line on the 'piano' by synth player Michael Farrell.
The most interesting concert of this leg, setlist-wise and performance-wise, has to be the final London date. It features a few songs not performed elsewhere on this leg of the tour ("Panic" and "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before") and Morrissey was in the best of moods and gave an excellent performance. The recording is also of rather good and clear quality. It was filmed from the stalls, but has nice close-ups.
The 1 May concert which also took place in London is a good second choice. It features a few songs not performed on the previously mentioned date and the quality - clear with nice close-ups - is also rather good for an audience recording. Quality-wise the Salford DVD bootleg would be interesting but it only features about half the set.
Full audience recordings of Aberdeen and Dundee are out there. Aberdeen is from the balcony, so steady, while Dundee is close, but shaky. Neither are shared much at this point in time. However a montage of both recordings together with a different Dundee audio track and extra footage from Stirling is rather easy to find.
Similarly, full audience recordings of Manchester Apollo and Manchester Bridgewater Hall were brought to us by the same bootlegger. The former date was filmed from the crowd while the latter was filmed from the balcony. Both are quite obstructed and not really shared much at this point in time. However a montage of the best bits of both nights is circulated, although still quite rare.
The audience recording of the Cardiff and King's Lynn shows are for completists only. The former was filmed from a distance and is often obstructed or shaky. The latter is very shaky and is often obstructed. Two different audience recordings of the complete Portsmouth concert are out there, as well as a mix of the two, but none of them are shared at this point in time.
So if it's not the sound quality, then it's the content and quality of performance that will motivate the choice of a date over another in this section. The first gig that spring to mind content-wise and performance-wise is the final London Palladium date. Morrissey was on top form, introduced "Panic" and reintroduced "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" into the set.
Here is a rundown of other circulated audience recordings at this point in time: Salford, Dundee, Greenock, Glasgow, Manchester Apollo, Manchester Opera House, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Blackburn, London Palladium 1, London Palladium 2, Truro and Oxford. Also circulated are inferior sounding DVD audios from London Alexandra Palace, Portsmouth and King's Lynn.
Salford, Glasgow and the three Manchester dates were memorable performances. The first London Palladium gig and Oxford were arguably the least interesting performances of these British dates. The earlier gigs feature songs like "Reader Meet Author", "Trouble Loves Me" and "My Life Is A Successions Of People Saying Goodbye" that were dropped later in the leg. Later gigs feature "In The Future When All's Well" and the late setlist addition "I'll Never Be Anybody's Hero Now". Part-timers "On The Streets I Ran" and "The Father Who Must Be Killed" were not always performed, so completists might want to check if they have it.