Morrissey’s tour of Ireland and the UK (September/October 2022) is a success; venues sold out, audiences escastic, and he looks and sounds great.
Without a name, sentence, word, or syllable to make into fresh outrage the press had to make do with leftovers.
The Telegraph (Ed Power, 25 September 2022) went with ‘accusations of far-Right sympathies (he notoriously wore a badge of the For Britain political party on American TV and has claimed Hitler was “left-wing”). He’s also taken aim at the monarchy, comparing the late Queen to “Muammar Gaddafi” in 2011′ and ‘performative surliness’, ‘sourness‘, and ‘dirge‘ for his solo work. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/concerts/morrissey-gleneagle-inec-arena-killarney-review-punchy-uneven/
So that when you think of him you think of Hitler.
The Scottish edition of The Times (Peter Ross, 3 October 2022) picked, ‘Morrissey, now 63, has long been a divisive figure. However, more recent public statements, including his support of the far-right political party For Britain, have made it difficult for some fans to continue to follow and enjoy his work. To attend a concert is to ask oneself: am I, with my presence and money, condoning his views? I would not buy his new music, but I listen to the old records with pleasure. I know people who do not have even that consolation. The Smiths, for them, are soured‘. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/morrissey-review-in-the-wilderness-and-in-fine-voice-bcf6qrqfl
So you know it’s immoral to have anything to do with him.
The Evening Standard (Will Richards, 13 October 2022) picked, ‘For many who let go of their fandom due to the singer’s anti-immigration comments, support of far-right political parties and beyond, it hurt more than most. Sticking with him into the 2020s has become an act of wilful ignorance or defiance then, depending on who you ask. Continued support of the singer often comes with the requirement of also engaging with his politics’. https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/music/morrissey-at-brixton-academy-review-surprisingly-fussfree-and-formulaic-b1032053.html
So you don’t ever engage with his politics and just assume he hates immigrants.
Local reviews and blogs were positive.
Say what you like about Morrissey (do you say it because certain people who populate your social circle say certain things because it’s cool, or ‘in’ to say certain things about the ‘out’ man, who changed the face of the ’80s in glasses for god sake?) but there is no denying the ability of the great Northern curator to catalyse a live crowd, an audience explicitly in concert with, into heaps of steamy bald men with a dollop of quiff on top, who briefly return to their teenage years when reduced to tears at the sight of their oddball pop star, now in a scant batch of remaining legends who have survived selling their souls to some brand (butter, car insurance, etc…) or other. (Ryan Walker, Louder Than War, 6 October 2022)
The Guardian and Independent ignored him.
The Spectator used the same misquotes and misinterpretations to positively frame him as an anti-immigration, anti-‘woke’, Islamophobic, Brexiteer.
No doubt the fact that Moz has dared to sing about an act of Islamist-inspired mass murder will be held up by his haters as further proof that he’s now ‘hard right’. Apparently it’s right-wing, and possibly Islamophobic, to be concerned about radical Islam… He describes Brexit as ‘magnificent’, wears a vest that says ‘Fuck the Guardian’, and loathes what is widely referred to as ‘wokeness’, especially for its intolerance of freedom of speech and alternative ways of thinking. ‘I’m a stern believer in free speech, but in my case I actually mean free speech for everyone, not just for those who agree with me’… (Brendan O’Neill, the Spectator, 10 October 2022) https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/morrisey-is-right-about-the-manchester-arena-bombing
And the New Statesman (Fergal Kinney, 12 October 2022) used the usual negative framing to argue that ‘the singer seemed trapped by nostalgia for his early career – and a terminally backwards-looking nationalism‘ under the headline, How Morrissey became irrelevant. https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/music/2022/10/morrissey-far-right-nationalism-irrelevant
The show was sold out, Morrissey is ‘nostalgic‘ for the 1960s and 1970s, a time after the mass immigration of Black and Asian people from the British Commonwealth to the UK, and there was no nationalism at all – so Fergal had to insinuate.
Morrissey’s ‘constantly reshuffled themes‘ are ‘isolation, sexual repression and English nostalgia‘.
The room is ‘far smaller than the O2 Arena or Royal Albert Hall.’
Nowadays he’s a ‘resident of the US.’
His odd choice of political party – which is defunct – which was run by an Irish, lesbian, vegan, feminist – which he dropped in May 2019 – can be explained as arrogance – so it proves every lie ever told about him: ‘Morrissey’s far-right sympathies – the subject of press speculation since at least the 1990s – passed beyond the border of plausible deniability, a border often busily patrolled by his fan base. He has voiced support for the minor right-wing groupuscule For Britain, which is led by the doomed Ukip leadership challenger Anne Marie Walters. The bewildering obscurity of his nationalist affiliations appears to be a point of pride.‘
Educated young people don’t agree with Morrissey, “It’s very difficult to reconcile,” said Lottie, an 18-year-old English literature student from Colchester in the queue for the Brixton performance. “I don’t think he has said anything racist, I just think he has different opinions on national identity to everybody else, and I respect it. I don’t agree with it.”
Racist old people do agree with Morrissey, ‘Others are more strident. “Leave Morrissey alone!” Juliet, a Londoner in her late 50s, told me. “He’s a tender, kind guy. What he’s thinking about is the forgotten English people. It’s fine for us here, watching foreign films or going to foreign restaurants, but he’s defending them.”
His band is composed of two Columbians, a Mexican-American, an Irish-South Korean-American, and one lone white man, so they’re described as, ‘his five-piece band.’
He wrongly claims that Morrissey is wearing a ‘Royal British Legion poppy,’ picks out ‘material four decades old.’ and misleadingly claims that, ‘The past, in Morrissey’s art, is always the place to be, and fittingly tonight’s set is close to that of a heritage act. Three new songs aside, very little of the past 20 years of his career is showcased.
The setlist is a mix of rarities, new songs and a few that could count as ‘hits’.
How Soon Is Now? (1984) / We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful (1992)/ Our Frank (1991)/ Knockabout World (2020) / First Of The Gang To Die (2004) / Irish Blood, English Heart (2004)/ Shoplifters Of The World (1987)/ Sure Enough, The Telephone Rings (2021)/ Rebels Without Applause (2021)/ I Am Veronica (2021)/ Half A Person (1987)/ My Hurling Days Are Done (2020)/ Bonfire Of Teenagers (2021)/ Everyday Is Like Sunday (1988)/ Never Had No One Ever (1986)/ Have-A-Go Merchant (1994)/ The Loop (1993)/ Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (1984)/ Jack The Ripper (1993)// Sweet And Tender Hooligan (1987)
He constrasts the good (celibate) Smiths version of Morrissey, ‘a byword for a kind of literate, fey outsiderdom,‘ with the bad (gay) solo version of Morrissey, ‘tough, rough… heavy machismo‘.
And uses his backdrops as evidence of racism ‘pictures of Manchester terraced streets from the 1950s and 1960s, before subsequent developments – and, perhaps, demographic shifts (Morrissey has complained that “you’ll hear every accent under the sun apart from the British accent” on London’s streets),’ and sexism, ‘When women do appear on the backdrop, they are exclusively Coronation Street matriarchs.’
His song about the Manchester bomb is ‘lumpen‘, and ‘crass‘, he’s ‘at his most animated… finger pointing and accusatory.‘ It doesn’t contain any racism but, ‘given what we know about the singer’s political affiliations, there’s a sense too of a man pulling his punches, of implications he is not prepared to make explicit.‘
Don’t Look Back in Anger’ gave people a ‘popular civic language’ – meant to make you think Morrissey’s language is ethnonationalism – and the Pet Shop Boys, ‘spoke in clear, certain terms about the attack being a “hate crime” and dedicated “Being Boring”, a gorgeous and mournful song about lives that do not get to grow old, to the 22 victims,’ – unlike Morrissey, they are good gays.
He ends the review by asserting that Morrissey wants to deny the young the ‘immigration‘ and ‘change‘ that created the Smiths because he wants to ‘walk backwards into comforting, fanciful and false visions of a bygone England‘ – but – you can still like the Smiths because of the heterosexual guitarist:“Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want”… feels hard to dim even by association. The waltz’s grandiose melancholy terrifically betrays the Irish parentage of its two songwriters, Morrissey and Marr.’
Morrissey ends the show with Poly Styrene on his t-shirt.