Morrissey - Manchester Apollo - 6.5.06

After not playing Manchester for ten years preferring to hang around the outskirts such as Blackburn, Liverpool and Preston Mozzer finally granted us Mancunians four dates on his recent UK tour. Tonight is the second one of the four and the most traditional gig in the grounds of the Apollo rather than the more elegant settings of The Lowry, Opera House and Bridgewater
Hall. As has become the pattern of late for Morrissey his album is hailed as a return for form, his live shows the best of his career before a few short months later the fans question whether they overestimated it all and whether the album really as good  as "Vauxhall & I" or "Your Arsenal". So tonight like any Morrissey concert is the best gig he's ever played in his ever!!!

Looking around tonight's audience is a revelation and whereas a number of years back Morrissey gigs would be full of lookalikes with NHS spectacles and quiffs there's now a younger generation who are just as passionate but don't feel the need to imitate El Moz. Just in front of us a dad has brought his daughter and her friends (all of whom must have been no older than 12) and instead of fidgeting wishing they were watching Shayne Ward they sung along to each and every word waving in Morrissey's direction every time he glanced vaguely in their direction. Similarly teenage lads who obviously have caught on from The Libertines, Franz Ferdinand and The ordinary Boys patronage are as equally passionate of the new material as much as the older Smiths classics dropped in-between.

More than anything tonight's setlist shows just how strong his recent material has been. "The First Of The Gang To Die" and You Have Killed Me" sandwich the Smiths "Still Ill" and both stand up. "I Will See You In Far Off Places" adds a new dimension away from the easy listening pop hits and this is probably his most eerily atmospheric song since the rarely played
"Jack The Ripper". "Trouble Loves Me" is resurrected as one of the best songs of his career and "How Soon Is Now?" leads into the incessant "Irish Blood English Heart"

As a performer Morrissey has grown over the year whipping off his shirt showing for his age a buffed up gym enhanced chest and whipping the mic to keep any potential stage invaders at bay. Perhaps the only thing to change over the years that puts a stop to some of the Mozzer pandemonium is the omnipresent security which wade in the moment a fan tries so much as to shake Morrissey's hand, because the passion and fire that much of tonight's audience (mid set lull aside) have is equal to what many consider his glory years.

With each of his recent Manchester appearances including his homecoming show at the MEN Arena and his Move Festival appearance he's never failed to impress, but as a fan it would be interesting for Morrissey to step outside the safe surrounds of his long-standing full band and maybe try something different such as an short acoustic tour or maybe work with a full blown
orchestra. Now he's back on the top of his game he can take those risks.

Alex McCann
Photos: Karen McBride

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