Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Morrissey comes to WEST VALLEY CITY

The thousands of people who once packed the mountainside at Park West (aka Wolf Mountain, aka The Canyons) whenever Morrissey came to town must have stayed home with the kids Tuesday, because only a couple thousand die-hards were on hand for the Brit-pop icon's first Utah show in years.
Morrissey didn't let vast expanses of empty seats in the E Center slow him down a bit, delivering 22 songs over the course of 90 minutes that leaned heavily on his newest solo material, but included plenty of old Smiths chestnuts to get long-time fans appropriately geeked over the proceedings on stage.
The Moz certainly wasn't enamored with the venue; he looked around and announced "Welcome to the strangest ice hockey game you'll ever see" before he even played a song. Thankfully, the reverb-soaked opening take on The Smiths' "The Queen is Dead" was all it took to forget the room and focus on the dramatic frontman at center stage. The light tie Morrissey wore didn't last until the end of the song, and by show's end he would go through no less than three shirts.
"First of the Gang to Die" came accompanied with a tasty trumpet break, courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Michael Farrell. And other songs coming early in the set - "The Youngest Was the Most Loved," "You Have Killed Me" and "Disappointed" all proved that Morrissey had an ace band backing him up. Guitarists Boz Boorer and Jesse Tobias provided everything from echo-laden power chords to delicate acoustic interludes, while the rhythm section of drummer Matt Walker and bassist Solomon Walker injected some dance-worthy grooves throughout the show.
A buoyant "Panic" and the buzzsaw guitars of "Ganglord" were both early highlights as well, but Morrissey couldn't leave the topic of the venue alone. Barely halfway through the set he gave a rather long-winded but funny introduction to "I Will See You in Far Off Places," apparently referring to the cavernous arena.
"Exactly why we're not in some quaint theater with lovely plush seats is there anything like that here?" Morrissey asked the crowd, many of whom spent the night trying to simply touch the man's hand, ala Elvis. "Is there anything that goes back to Shakespearean times? The mountains! The mountains do."
Morrissey remains a captivating frontman, dancing with his microphone stand, working the front of the crowd and occasionally disrobing to the waist, decades be damned. His voice, always a love it-or-hate it instrument, seemed as strong as ever as he proceeded through cuts like "Let Me Kiss You," the new "All You Need is Me" and "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side." "Everyday is Like Sunday" seemed a bit slow, but Morrissey did accompany the song with some creative and dramatic interpretive dance as the crowd sang along with every word.
Closing the show in a flurry of dramatic lights and under the watchful eyes of three giant James Dean heads projected onto screens behind him, Morrissey vamped it up to excess on "Life is a Pigsty" from last year's "Ringleader of the Tormentors" album before a quick segue into the brilliant "How Soon Is Now?"
With Morrissey singing that Smiths-classic's chorus - "I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does" - it was easy to understand the universal appeal of his music for his fans. Closing with "Irish Blood, English Heart" and an encore that included another Smiths standard, "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want," it's safe to say Morrissey will always have a few thousand fans ready to swoon for a night whenever he comes to town, no matter how old he or they get.

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