Gig review: Morrissey at First Direct Arena, Leeds

Morrissey. Picture: Monika Stolarska
Morrissey. Picture: Monika Stolarska
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Say what you will of Morrissey, and most people have, however I was four years old when The Smiths split and not privvy to the hysteria and controversies surrounding Manchester’s famous miseries.

Fast forward 30 years and I’m here for the music. The Wizard Of Moz, the original Manc With A Mouth, eat your heart out Gallagher brothers.

Leeds played host to the man who made the side streets of the city famous, to a set largely made up of his recent album Low In High School.

Spent The Day In Bed and Jacky’s Only Happy, the two lead singles were woven effortlessly with favourites such as Everyday Is Like Sunday and The Smiths track How Soon Is Now.

Eschewing any click bait sound bites, and with few audience interactions, Moz and band managed to make the vast Leeds First Direct Arena feel like an up-close intimate show, playing a set list curated to showcase the bands more up to date output rather than opting for the easy option to rest on much back catalogue material.

Opening with a cover of Elvis’ You’ll Be Gone, and throwing in a rendition of The Pretenders Back On The Chain Gang mid-set, Morrissey’s vocals were unfaltering throughout, a competent performance from start to finish.

The stage backdrops playing footage of police brutality and later a vivid and shocking clip of animal cruelty during The Bullfighter Dies, were a stark reminder of Moz’s political opinion and animal welfare ideals that brought the message home in all their bloodied detail.

The night was brought to a close with a rousing encore of Irish Blood, English Heart, the band then leaving thousands of fans heading for the exit into the bleak northern February evening.

Belligerent ghouls have chosen strange ways to review of late, but, for me, long live Morrissey, a man who only appears happy when he’s on the stage where he belongs.