Decades after The Smiths split up, lead singer Morrissey continued to maintain a dedicated fanbase, releasing 13 albums since debuting his first solo album Viva Hate in 1988. Over the years, the English singer has carved out a niche in alternative rock and installed himself as a fixture in ’80s pop culture.
On Sunday at MGM Music Hall, fans didn’t come to see any openers or accompanying acts—they came to see Morrissey. Performing as a single act, Morrisey attracted many of his and The Smiths’ cult followers across all ages to his concert, many of whom left their seats to storm toward the stage when the enigmatic rock artist appeared.
Morrissey began his set with the 1997 hit “Alma Matters,” a song he rarely performed in his recent live shows. Audience members sang along to this surprising start to the end of his tour.
“We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful,” an upbeat and inviting tune set to harsh lyrics about the reality of resentment and growing apart, followed the opening track.
“If we can destroy them / You bet your life we will destroy them / If we can hate them / Well, we may as well it’s really laughable,” Morrissey sang.
The backdrops behind Morrisseey during the show were often cryptic and stylistic with visuals such as photos of Oscar Wilde, gifs of old Hollywood scenes, and Christian iconography.
Morrissey’s set consisted of songs from a variety of his albums throughout the years and balanced classic hits with newer deep tracks. The singer spoke to the crowd after the concert’s initial songs with a tongue-in-cheek introduction.
“I sincerely hope you enjoy tonight because the whole thing took … minutes of practice,” Morrissey said.
Morrissey continued with the ballad “Knockabout World,” projecting his voice past the balconies of the venue. The album I Am Not a Dog on a Chain was a jarring change to Morrissey’s usual discography with its use of synths and drum fills.
All of his Smiths songs and bigger solo hits garnered loud cheers and dancing from the crowd. Morrissey sang Smiths classics “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” “Girlfriend in a Coma,” and “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” to a rowdy audience. His unique voice mirrored the same one that began his career 40 years ago.
Because MGM Music Hall is split between the floor and upper floor balconies, it was easy to notice a stark difference between two parts of the audience. While the floor crowd was populated with energetic fans who jumped and sang along to The Smiths legend, most of the upper crowd remained in their seats throughout the performance.
Nevertheless, Morrissey put on an effortful show given his age and fatigue after back-to-back tours. Morrissey also made sure to make a spectacle out of his show: he upheld the tradition of taking off his shirt and denounced the recent visit of Prince William and Kate Middleton to Boston.
The artist prefaced his unreleased song, “Sure Enough, The Telephone Rings,” with commentary.
“We made an album called Bonfire of Teenagers … we don’t know where it’s gone … probably into the gulp of censorship,” Morrissey said.
The audience responded with cheers of agreement, and some hecklers yelled against woke culture. The singer has cultivated a long history of media criticism for his political views, controversial lyrics, and unorthodox personality.
“Everyday Is Like Sunday,” one of his most recognizable songs, was introduced with an ominous piano intro with all the lights shut off in the venue.
Morrissey ended the show with a live rendition of “Jack the Ripper,” informing the audience that this might be his last appearance in the foreseeable future.
He came back out for an encore, singing an energetic and extended version of The Smiths’ Louder Than Bombs track “Sweet and Tender Hooligan” while saying goodbye to fans and grabbing onto the hands reaching up to him. The drums and bass roared, setting a strong rhythm that ignited the audience.
“A poor woman / Strangled in her bed as she read / But that’s okay / Because she was old / And she would’ve died anyway,” Morrissey sang.
In tradition, audience members attempted to storm the stage, with one successfully breaching toward Morrissey before being tackled by security guards. After this first attempt though, the crowd became rowdier and, knowing this to be their last chance, unsuccessfully tried to push toward the singer.
The band played, crescendoing toward an abrupt end to the show, and Morrissey quickly bolted toward the exit.
Fans stayed put and cheered, demanding a second encore, but this desire was unmet. The stage emptied as the crowd remained still, entranced by a black-and-white gif of a man shooting himself in the head with fake brain matter pouring out. A loud hum accompanied the video until the venue shut down.