by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
You know the old saying “Leave them wanting more”? That’s exactly what Morrissey did last night at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln.
No one quite knew for sure if Moz was coming out for an encore after he walked off stage during the conclusion of “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” the tune he’d closed his regular set with the night before in Denver. As the band winded down and left the stage, the crowd erupted into applause, and then began a half-assed encore plea.
After just a few moments, on came the stage grips who began tearing down the mics, guitar pedals and drum kit in the dark. A few more minutes passed and then the house lights came up, but fans were still holding out hope as some equipment remained on stage along with Morrissey’s mic. Adding to the confusion — no one turned up the house music. Had the house music come up, as it does at most concerts signalling the end of a show, the fans would have gotten the hint. Instead, security dudes had to shoo away the sad and angry fans — a frustrating end to a frustrating show.
Morrissey’s portion of the gig lasted a mere hour, beginning with Smiths’ song “Hand and Glove” and winding through a rather low-key selection from his solo material.
Opening the show was long-time Morrissey tourmate Kristeen Young, proof that landing an opening slot for a major recording artist is no guarantee of next-level fame. Young has been touring with Morrissey for years. In fact, she opened his May 2007 show at The Orpheum in Omaha. Still, few people know who she is or have heard her records. While there’s no question she has a strong (though very ’80s-sounding) voice, she hasn’t learned to write a song. Thankfully her set only lasted a half hour.
Between Young’s set and Morrissey, the houselights were dimmed for a selection of music film clips that included performances by Mott the Hoople and obscurities like ’65 UK chart-topper Chris Andrews singing “Yesterday Man,” culminating with the Wiz of Oz midgets’ rendition of “Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead.”
Then at the stroke of 9 on came Morrissey, sounding as good as he did in ’07. At 54, he’s managed to keep his voice in remarkable condition. And his band was outstanding — a five-piece ensemble with keyboards, guitar, bass and drums, they were dressed in matching jeans, sneakers and blue T-shirts with the Hustler logo emblazened across their chests. Campy.
The highlight of the first half was a striking version of “Ganglord,” the B-side to “The Youngest Was the Most Loved.” You can see the entire 15-song setlist from last night’s show here.
The train went off the rails right after “Speedway.” Morrissey began telling a story that went something like, “On our drive yesterday from Denver, looking out the window I saw a sad…” Someone yelled something. I couldn’t tell what it was from my perch in the balcony, but it apparently involved the word “boring.”
Morrissey tried to tell the story again and was interrupted, and then blew a raspberry into the microphone and signaled the band to commence with “Everyday Is Like Sunday,” which he refused to sing, conceivably because he was pissed off. It wasn’t until the chorus that some of the crowd figured out what was going on and began filling in the vocal void in rather sad fashion. Morrissey then began to hand the mic over to audience members standing near the stage, treating us with awkward hellos.
The incident seemed to take the air out of Morrissey, and he walked through the rest of the performance spending time between songs with his back to the audience, studying a set list to decide what to play next. He livened up for vegan mantra “Meat is Murder,” that included a gruesome film of livestock conditions and animal mutilation that Morrissey made a point to stare at during the extended instrumental portion of the song. No doubt the story he was unable to tell earlier probably had to do with all the livestock facilities he passed along the Interstate.
Needless to say, there were a lot of pissed off people walking out of The Rococo after Morrissey refused an encore. While I would have liked to hear a couple more songs, the decision to play is squarely on his shoulders, and if he wasn’t feeling it, that’s the way it goes.
I blame The Rococo for he screw-up with the house music. That was my first time at the theater and it will likely be my last, after getting screwed around during the ticket purchase (We were told moments after tickets went on sale that only general admission balcony seats were available. I would later discover that wasn’t the case). The sound was bad; the sightlines were bad (as you’d expect). It would have been nice to see Morrissey in a better facility for what is likely going to be his final tour through Nebraska. Oh well, at least I still have my memories of that triumphant 2007 Orpheum concert…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2014 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.
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