Morrissey. Photo: Daniel Jackson
In music, as Morrissey even told me during our interview, “anything could happen.” So it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Morrissey not only sold more tickets than he would have at White Oak Music Hall, but that he showed up and performed admirably to the fairly packed house at Smart Financial Centre. After weeks of assuring people that I was almost certain that he would show up and perform, Morrissey didn’t disappoint while running through an impressive set list while being more talkative between songs than he’s been in the past.
Fans were greeted with a backdrop of Joan of Arc before a slew of videos began to play. Starting with the Ramones performing “Loudmouth,” the videos were an aspect I wasn’t prepared for. Though I would find out later that this has become the normal fare for the singer, the array of videos was eclectic. “I’m Black and I’m Proud” by James Brown, “Flesh” by Andy Warhol, “Don’t Make Me Over” by Dionne Warwick, “How important is one’s nationality to one’s identity” by an unnamed British comic, “God Save The Queen” by The Sex Pistols, “Can’t Trust It” by Public Enemy; it was truly a diverse string of videos to say the least. The inclusion of the poem “Wanting To Die,” by Anne Sexton, “Arabesque No. 1” by Isao Tomita, the Sponge Pudding joke from a British comic in drag, a film clip from “L’Insoumis” where The Smiths found The Queen is Dead cover art, “Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Marlene Dietrich, and “Looking For A Kiss” by New York Dolls were all followed by a Lypsinka clip before the house lights darkened and the show would begin.
Morrissey & Band. Photo: Daniel Jackson
The band posed at the front of the stage donning “Fuck Trump” tees, while Morrissey greeted the audience stating simply, “I am at your mercy.” Things moved quickly and the band wasted no time in opening with The Smiths classic, “How Soon I Now?” Morrissey kept things on pace, following with the Viva Hate favorite “Suedehead,” then performing “Alma Matters.” He addressed the audience by saying, “When they switched the venue, I thought they said I was playing smart and final. I was really excited.” At the opening of “Speedway,” there was an odd sound that almost seemed like things were turned down, though this was very brief and it was back to normal within a second or two. He closed the track by letting keyboard player Gustavo Manzur finish the track in Spanish, while Moz attended to the keyboard area simply playing tambourine. Addressing the crowd again, Morrissey very kindly apologized by saying, “Thank you for your patience. I know that this night has screwed you around for six months or so.”
The mood was light. It seemed like Morrissey actually wanted to be there, on that stage, and in front of us all. He resumed with “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” erupting the entire venue into a frenzied sing-a-long before following with “Istanbul.” Afterward, he remarked that “no one knew the song, nor will you know this next one,” which would be “World Peace Is None of Your Business.” Manzur would again return to finish this song as well, which seemed odd to me, but no one else around me seemed to mind. Going in deep, Morrissey gave the crowd “Jack The Ripper,” explaining after that, “What happened in Tucson was that my voice finally broke,” before starting “Ouija Board Ouija Board.” In fact, aside from the fact that there were no new songs, the evening with the British singer was pretty delightful. Playing “The Bullfighter Dies” next before introducing “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” as “This song is called the fetus belongs to the woman.” Morrissey seemed to be in high spirits, keeping the quips going while introducing the band, then following with “First of The Gang To Die.” He followed up with “Ganglord” before launching into a rant about the TSA: “In a few days I will be raped and sexually molested. As you can guess, I’ll be at a major American airport.” In what seemed out of place after the rant, Moz began “Kiss Me A Lot.”
Morrissey Greets a Fan. Photo: Daniel Jackson
He addressed the audience by saying, “I’m very aware of how attractive I am, not very,” before playing “You’re The One For Me, Fatty,” and The Smiths classic “Shoplifters of the World Unite.” Then, on par with Morrissey shows of today, he addressed mega fan and owner of the Morrissey fan site True To You, Julia Riley, who is rumored to have seen every live Morrissey show since 1994. “Do you have anything to say? You can ask how I am.” This was followed by “When I Last Spoke To Carol” prior to leaving the stage, only to return with a new shirt to be torn off and tossed into the crowd after performing “Let Me Kiss You.” The band would leave to return for a one song encore, a pleasing and raucous cover of the Ramones classic, “Judy Is A Punk.”
All in all, my experience with the team at Smart Financial Centre alongside the staff brought over from White Oak Music Hall was splendid and professional. Things seemed to run smoothly, as while this was my first time at the suburban venue, I suspect it won’t be my last. Along with fellow Free Press Houston journalist Russell Gardin, we left pleased and excited post-show. Morrissey was more talkative and in higher spirits than all of the months before would have suggested. While it wasn’t the Morrissey I saw at his first US tour, I wasn’t expecting that. Instead I walked away with a stellar performance from an artist who will always mystify us all, no matter how many times he reschedules a show.