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September 26, 1997 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-26

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The Michigan Daily - Friday, September 26, 1997 -11
Wizard of Moz: Morrissey hypnotizes Hill with eerie, evocative set

By Brian Cohen
Daily Arts Writer
Why do people go to concerts?
Do they go solely because of the music? Do they go only to
see the performer up close and in the flesh? Or do they simply
go just for the 'joi de vive' concert experience?
In the case of Morrissey, fans flock to the concerts because
*y have no choice. They travel from great distances because
they know that Morrissey has touched them. They wait around

his hotel because they admire his ability to champion the small
shy body inside us all. They swarm around his tour bus before
sound check because they understand that Morrissey is one of
the most important rock icons of this generation. They go to see
Stephen Patrick Morrissey simply because it is something they
have to do.
This unique relationship between artist and fan was dis-
played brilliantly at Wednesday night's performance at Hill
Auditorium. Clad in all black as he sauntered onstage,

Morrissey's captivating stage presence was instantly evident
and undeniable. With his trademark widow's peak and sunken
brow enhanced all the more by the dramatic stage lighting,
Moz greeted the screaming audience with handshakes andU

smiles, and then launched into a roaring rendition


"Maladjusted" - the first song off his
newest album of the same name. R
Morrissey's voice soared as he whipped
around the microphone wire like a poised I '
and practiced lion tamer.
Drawing mostly from the material of
his last three solo efforts, the set flowed
very smoothly from song to song. A rocky
"Billy Budd" from 1994's "Vauxhall And I" followed next, and
then came the single "The Boy Racer" from 1995's "Southpaw
Grammar," which showcased a stellar three-part vocal harmo-
ny courtesy of guitarists Alain Whyte and Boz Bdorer.
Perhaps Morrissey's most popular and widely known single,
"The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get," was worked into
the set next, set afire with a jazzy introduction by the sharply
dressed Boz. Current single "Alma Matters" then followed, as
Morrissey's gyrating hips and uninhibited baritone had the
crowd hanging onto every word.
Morrissey flailed his arms in sharp right angle thrusts as the
thick and driving guitars on future single "Roy's Keen" made
audience members feel a sonic boom in the heart of their ster-
num. After a mediocre performance of Southpaw's "Reader
Meet Author" came the eerie "Ambitious Outsiders," during
which the swaying silhouette of Morrissey's looming figure
was projected onto the entire Hill Auditorium ceiling.
"And now for the serious stuff," uttered The Mozzer as the
spirited "Satan Rejected My Soul" set the crowd up perfectly
for the tender ballad "Now My Heart Is Full," where Morrissey
sang to the crowd in front of the stage on one knee against a
warm glow of soft blue lights.
Then came a rare and precious treat in the form of "Paint A
Vulgar Picture", a song taken from The Smiths' final album
"Strangeways Here We Come." Admittedly still a fan of the
material from his earlier days as a member of The Smiths,


Morrissey has nevertheless usually refrained from including
any Smiths songs from his solo concerts. However, perhaps
due to the timely application of the song's lyrics ("At the record
company meeting ... ooh the plans they weave and ooh the
sickening greed/ re-issue!, re-package!, re-package!, re-evalu-
ate the songs ... but you could have said
V vI E W no if you wanted to") with the recent
unsanctioned re-release of Morrissey's
Morriss debut solo album "Viva Hate" by EMI
Records, "Paint A Vulgar Picture" was
Hi1 Auditorium included in the set and took the audience
e. 24, 1997 to a whole new plateau of intensity.
The set closed with the sinister epic
"The Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils", which was as
intriguing as it was anti-climactic following the previous
Smiths' gem.
Following a short recess, Morrissey returned to the crowd's
deafening roar wearing a University of Michigan swimming t-
shirt, which, needless to say, increased the audience cheers 12-
fold. Easily the highlight of the show, Moz and company
kicked into a majestic rendition of "Shoplifters Of The World
Unite"- another blast from the Smiths' catalog. The audience
yelled every word and provided a cushion of sound for
Morrissey to croon sweetly overtop, making the song sound far
better than it ever possibly could have on album alone.
Morrissey gets reactions out of his fans that most artists will
never come close to experiencing in their entire careers. His
concerts have become virtually ritualistic, with the customary
throwing of gladiolas, the habitual practice of fans leaping
onstage, the throwing of letters, cards, and even wrapped pre-
sents onstage, and even the presence of token Morrissey looka-
likes. No other performer can boast such a grateful and appre-
ciative base of fans who treat every live performance as if it
were the single most important thing in their entire life. Always
ready with wit, on Wednesday Morrissey's mind, body, soul and
voice were nothing short of top drawer. Morrissey again proved
his ability to produce a unique fusion of energy and drama while
maintaining an intense personal connection with his audience
that will love him "now, today, tomorrow and always."

Can you say he went about things the wrong way? Morrissey performed to a soldout Hill Auditorium Wednesday night.
Continued from Page 10


powers at bay / They want us kinder,
gentler, at their feet.'
Of Farrar's penchant for sociopoliti-
cal commentary, Heidom said, "It real-
ly is thought-provoking. I think he says
more with half a phrase than a politi-
cian could say with a 15-page speech.'
3ut political issues are only one of
trar's many themes. Returning to
"Way Down Watson," the song could
also be interpreted as an allegory for a
romantic relationship coming to a gut-
wrenching, crashing conclusion. "Feel
the heartstrings sinking fast," he sings;
"another treasure found, another tum-
bling down" Throughout the latest
album and, indeed, his career, Farrar
has plumbed the emotional depths of
]fe with poetic grace and powerful
"Straightaways" offers one of his
most mournful love songs yet, the
keening "Left A Slide." As the song
ebbs and swells atop Heywood's weep-
ing steel, Farrar sings, "Minefields
there were from the start / Watching out
for the worst, never clear 'til it hurts /
Call it off, make amends / This life
burns down from both ends."
"'Ilike the way he can twist a
rase," Heidorn said. "I think he has a
true talent for that and I always enjoy
hearing it"
Besides his active working-class
consciousness, his appreciation of his-
tory and his ability to speak eloquently
about affairs of the heart, Farrar also
has a philosophical side steeped in
existentialism. On the first Tupelo
record, Farrar sang that he would prefer
"a whiskey bottle over Jesus" - he
lieves that "there's nothing greater
tfan the traveling hands of time," as he
sang in "Tear Stained Eye" on Son
Volts 1995 landmark album, "Trace."
Farrar's faith rests not in any God but
in the knowledge that transcendence is
found in the simplicity of life itself -
"Learning is living and the truth is a
state of mind," "Tear Stained Eye" con-
tinues. Sounding much like a modern-
ay Camus or Sartre on the new
bum's "Creosote," he sings that
"Everyone faces what they deserve /
It's a carousel to claim or curse / We're
stickin' around, at least for the ride."
If that ride is Farrar's career trajecto-
ry, PIll certainly stick around to follow
it. No songwriter working today writes
with such depth, intelligence, complex-
ity and subtlety as Farrar; no band can
shift from roiling, Crazy Horse fury to
delicate, Van Zandt introspection with
*ch versatility, cohesion and ease as
on Volt.'This songwriter is the most
important in America right now, and his
band the best.

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