Morrissey. Legendary English musician, troubled soul, animal activist and former Smiths frontman.
The 56-year-old artist, who’s created an impressive career and cult following in his almost 40 years of music, is by now the most predictable of artists. Before Moz (‘Morrissey’-- but you should know this already if you’re reading this) fans start tightening their fists, please hear me out. What Morrissey does is very Morrissey, and it has been for most of Morrissey’s life, but the real allure is that fans know how he is and acts, but do not really know who he is.
When Morrissey isn’t battling it out with a record label or writing lengthy press releases about food poisoning and cancelled Brazilian shows, Morrissey is touring. Though is an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime, it is also a gamble. Ticket holders know too well of Morrissey’s history of cancelling shows -- sometimes even last minute -- but if you ever do go to a Moz show, then you should probably expect the following to happen.
1. People camping out since the day before
What’s your average line waiting time for a show? Personally my max is eight hours which I cashed in this past weekend at the San Jose Morrissey show, but devoted Morrissey fans take it a step further, or rather a day further. This particular Morrissey show had a line that was there since noon the day before the show--I spoke to some previous Morrissey show fanatics and some of them admitted to have waited up to three days before a show. Tents, sunblock, portable chargers and Moz memorabilia will likely scatter the hot concrete floor outside any Morrissey concert.
2. Lots and lots of Smiths shirts
RIP The Smiths, but long live their music, which is undoubtedly well alive at any Morrissey concert. The former Smiths frontman includes Smiths favorites in his set, which is greatly appreciated by fans who still commemorate the popular British band, which disbanded in 1987. Smiths t-shirts are practically a must at Morrissey shows—you’ll see as many Smiths “Meat is Murder” shows as evangelic post-Smiths Morrissey shirts.
3. Morrissey’s pre-show compilation video
Every Morrissey show-goer will know too well Morrissey’s compilation video that plays a half hour before the show starts. The video is a look into everything Morrissey likes, which includes the New York Dolls and Sparks music videos and scenes from black and white movies you wish you were cultured enough to recognize right off the bat. The famous video is sometimes edited to include new material, but the final scene of the video is always a woman yelling in front of a red curtain before the actual curtain the video has been screening on falls, revealing Morrissey and his band.
4. Morrissey’s debonair wardrobe
Morrissey is quite a stylish man, and always has a stich to wear (eh, eh, eh). His white/gray hair is perfectly combed and his button up shirt flirtatiously buttoned almost all the way, revealing enough chest to have the crowd swooning. Morrissey’s shirts are usually tucked into a pair of jeans, and they are almost always long sleeve button ups. His signature look will likely be replicated by male fans in the audience, but none will do it justice, because only Moz can rock a satin turquoise shirt the way he does.
5. Morrissey’s outdated ‘Meat is Murder’ video
Morrissey’s famous and blunt Smiths song “Meat is Murder”, (‘…The meat in your mouth, as you savor the flavor of MURDER’) is always accompanied by his outdated slaughterhouse video, which plays in the background. You’ll know when he’s about to sing the first guilt-inducing lines when you hear the squeals of dying animals as the words “Meet your Meat” flashes on a black background. The blood-drenched video features farm animals getting their throats slit and will make you sick for most of its entirety, but will be long forgotten by the time you make your way to the nearest McDonalds after the show.
6. This kid, if you’re in California
Recently, Morrissey’s made a new friend who he doesn’t mind pulling up to the stage and wrapping his arm around as he sings “Irish Blood, English Heart”. This kid is Devan Beltran who has accompanied the singer on stage at three West Coast shows so far. His father will lift up the 12-year-old, who then scrambles his way to the stage, with help of security, as Morrissey helps pull him up. Moz will then finish a song with his arm around the crying boy, as you watch from below in the aroma of everyone’s sweat and blood, wishing you too were an adorable kid.
7. Grown men crying
There will be many of them, especially those at the very front who will suck in as much air as they can to squeeze into the heavily crowded pit. They’ll weep during “First of the Gang to Die” and they’ll wipe their man tears with their tattooed hairy knuckled hands whenever the first notes of “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me” comes on.
8. Grown men (and women) crying and throwing themselves at Morrissey
If you’re in the pit, it's extremely likely that someone will crowd surf and hit your head with their Doc Martens. Every Morrissey concert will have at least three fans throwing themselves on stage, in tears, as they try to embrace the singer. Grown men will cry and punch anyone just to have a split second of Morrissey hug before being whisked away like a crying child by security. It’s going to happen.
9. Some of the most talented security guards you’ll ever see
They can catch a 200-pound punk mid-jump and they can wrestle even the biggest hairiest tattooed men to the floor. Though they can’t ward off every fan, they still do a pretty impressive job at swatting off lunging bodies. It’ll be hard for you not to get distracted by this swarm of flying dark souls, but Morrissey will continue on with the show as if he didn’t have a 33-year-old man tightly gripping his arm seconds ago.
10. A mob of people fighting over Morrissey’s shirt
If you see Morrissey throw his shirt to the crowd I suggest you run—that is unless you want to fight over it with six other strangers who might be twice your size. Morrissey will usually end the night by ripping off his shirt and throwing it into a crowd of people who will fight for it. It is usually agreed that whenever there is a group of people who’ve caught the garment at the same time, that they rip it apart and share the pieces between them.
When I walked out of the pit at the end of the night (limping, but smiling nonetheless) a girl asked me what happened to the shirt. When I explained I didn’t know the turnout of the squabble, she showed me her wrist which had a thin piece of fabric tied around it like a bracelet. Apparently that was the shirt she caught some years ago. If you want to take one of these Moz couture bracelets home with you, I suggest you secure a front row center spot, if not, I suggest you find yourself a seat.