Morrissey - Live At Earls Court

It was a comeback that few could have imagined, but one that the world was secretly waiting for. Morrissey in many ways is the last real icon of rock n roll and while many have come close, they couldn't quite touch the incredible magnetism of the Mozfather. In many ways it is the ambiguity, sexual and otherwise, that has kept people enthralled for so long. In the space of an interview he could talk enchantedly about the kitchen sink drama of Coronation Street and 60s Girl Groups before launching into a savage attack on the Monarchy and Margaret Thatcher. When he came back the targets had changed slightly, Bush had replaced Thatcher as a figure of hate, his disdain for contemporary culture was still there and the only real change was that reggae music was no long vile, since he revived the Attack label on Sanctuary.

Designer Magazine has seen Morrissey no less than five times last year, so the big question with "Morrissey - Live In Earls Court" is can it capture the excitement we witnessed first hand? Yes and No. London (home of the brash, outrageous and free) is strangely muted with the fevered excitement neither matching the shows last year, previous Mozzer live release "Beethoven Was Deaf" or The Smiths "Rank".

Naturally the highlight of this release is hearing the old Smiths tracks played live for the first time in years. Without Johnny Marr's delicate touches the tunes lose some of their little intricacies, but in their place is a bolstered up beefier sound. "How Soon Is Now", "Bigmouth Strikes Again", "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" and "Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me" all hit the mark. The latter closing track is particularly haunting and emotional.

A cover of Patti Smith's "Redondo Beach" stands out unequivocally as the least Morrissey-esque song of the set. Self-explanatory you may say as it's not penned by his fair hands, but in the past covers of "Cosmic Dancer" and "Moon River" has been very fitting in the set. This almost doesn't work, but shows a jauntyness that Mozzer displayed when he covered Twinkle's "Golden Lights" all those years ago.

Like all Mozzer releases this is an essential one for the fans and one that seems like a greatest hits set. However you can't help but feel that the aforementioned "Beethoven Was Deaf" album captures the spirit of the live shows far better. And if only Sanctuary would have designed a sleeve befitting of the record, as surely this cover must rank as the worst ever in Morrissey's long career.

Alex McCann

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