Morrissey delivers premature performance at the Troxy

Morrissey – 18 July 2009 – Troxy, London

Forever cited as one of  music’s most enigmatic characters, Morrissey certainly lived up to his contrary image last week in a performance at the Troxy in East London, which delivered early greatness to eventually leave an all too familiar feeling of  disappointment at what might have been.

For an hour Morrissey was untouchable.  Once the early microphone sound problems had been rectified the clarity, wit and theatrics of the performance matched the sheer excitement of the set list.  Morrissey rarely plays more than a handful of Smith songs – this time a third of his set comprised of those timeless gems.  Along with perennial favourites, ‘How soon is now’, ‘This charming man and ‘Girlfriend in a coma’ – sat the beautiful lament of ‘Please please please let me get what I want’, the defiant ‘Ask’ and the powerfully scathing ‘You just haven’t earned it yet baby’.  Although the best song of the night was the acoustic folk of ‘Why don’t you find out for yourself’ – a bitter swipe at the music industry from the brilliant ‘Vauxhall and I’.  The rest of the  hour was filled with a selection of new tracks from ‘Years of Refusal’ interspersed with the muscular ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ and the whimsical ‘Life is a pigsty‘.  So far – so great!   What was to follow was completely disappointing and so utterly Morrissey………

The last few songs of the set were cumbersome and make up some of the material for his current mediocre long player – although the songs were embellished live with extravagant  bass and drum solos – to overcompensate for the lack of melody or lyrical nous.  After which he and the band dissapeared  backstage –  this was after 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Quite early to go off, but all would have been forgiven if the encore had showed a little more respect to his paying fans. ……

Enter Morrissey and band who tore into a fast and celebratory ‘First of the gang to die‘.  As good as the song was – the shock of seeing Morrissey rip off his shirt, throw it into the crowd and then race off stage was quite bewildering……….surely not?  A one song encore after 1 hour 20 minutes!  And sure enough the house lights confirmed my disappointment.  My disappointment quickly turned to anger…..Here was an artist who has an incredibly rich back catalogue of songs – many of which are the best of their generation, and yet he fails to offer more than a fleeting glimpse of his greatness to his dedicated fans – fans who have payed nearly 40 pounds a ticket!  Peter Doherty played the Troxy the night before and played for 2 hours – an artist with a serious drug habit and only one solo album to his name! 

Of course Morrissey will always play for himself and always leave the fans wanting more – but for an established and mature artist to offer so little to an expectant crowd could be construed as lazy.   Maybe that is the extent of Morrisey’s live legacy – to hint at greatness without ever truly entering the realm of the great live performers.  He always has been so bloody contrary – but even the most famous of them all – Eric Clapton and Neil Young – produce magical live performances from time to time.   Although that requires more than 1 hour 20 minutes of their time.


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