Music

Morrissey: Live at Earls Court

Joseph Pompeo

Despite a few wrinkles and patches of gray, the now middle-aged Morrissey appears as striking as ever.


Morrissey

Live at Earls Court

Label: Sanctuary
US Release Date: 2005-03-29
UK Release Date: 2005-04-04
Amazon affiliate
Amazon
iTunes

"Time will prove everything," proclaimed Morrissey during his appearance at London's Earls Court on 18 December 2004.

Well if nothing else, time has proven that Morrissey, after two decades of writing and performing music, still has it. To this day, the soon to be 46-year-old can send his fans into a state of frenzied excitement like no other artist.

Not convinced? Just ask anyone who made it to at least one of last year's many sold-out concerts. More than 22 years after the Smiths' first gig and roughly 16 since Morrissey's initial go as a solo artist, the stage continues to be rushed and tears continue to be shed by hosts of devoted fans, many who travel thousands of miles just to be in the same room as the man. In fact, aside from a few extra pounds and a slightly less nimble stage presence, one of the biggest differences between "then" and "now" is the notion that rather than fighting over kitschy, gold lame button-downs, today's Morrissey fans have the privilege of tearing apart the singer's $300 Gucci dress shirts.

2004 was a particularly good year for Morrissey, and for his bank account. Not only did it bring us a "comeback" LP, but it also turned out a slew of UK singles, US singles, DVD singles, maxi-singles, double A-sides, unreleased B-sides and even a good old-fashioned platinum edition. The question: What more could fans possibly need? The answer: A live album that would capture a moment in time sure to be remembered as one of the high points of Morrissey's career.

Live at Earls Court (in actuality recorded over the course of five UK shows), documents the conclusion of last year's You Are the Quarry tour. On the official "unofficial" Morrissey website, Morrissey-Solo.com, veteran fans ranked the Earls Court show among the best they had ever witnessed, citing a highly energetic and emotionally charged performance from the Mozfather himself. Released the same day as Morrissey's live DVD, Who Put the 'M' in Manchester, Live at Earls Court navigates a tasteful set of solo favorites, newer B-sides, Quarry tracks and of course a few choice items from the Smiths canon.

In terms of production, the album trumps that of 1993's live effort, Beethoven Was Deaf, even though at times, the guitars sound low in the mix. The vocals on the other hand shine through loud and clear, and as far as Morrissey's singing is concerned, let's just say his live voice has come a long way since the days when he was too busy leaping off monitor speakers to worry about hitting the right notes.

And what live Morrissey album would be complete without examples of his witty stage banter and famous idiosyncrasies? Certainly not Live at Earls Court, which contains a healthy dose of sarcastic remarks, that throat grumbling thing he does and of course plenty of lyric play -- Joan of Arc's walkman is now an iPod.

But the true highlights of this CD are its more touching moments; the moments when the sincerity in Morrissey's voice and power of his music remind fans why they were drawn to him in the first place. They still might not be able to place their finger on what exactly made the initial attraction so strong, but listening to Live at Earls Court they can rest assured it was meant to be.

Smiths tunes, such as the clichéd, "How Soon Is Now", with which Morrissey and the Lads launch into the performance, are played with a renewed sense of vitality. But newer songs manage to hold their own alongside the classics, especially You Are the Quarry's anthemic, "First of the Gang to Die", and B-sides, "Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice" and "Friday Mourning". Other pinnacles include a flawlessly executed, however mellow version of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out", and a polished rendition of Patti Smith's, "Redondo Beach", also the album's single.

As has been the standard for past solo releases, a picture of Morrissey graces the Earls Court cover. Donning a newly pressed black suit jacket, Morrissey stands with a microphone in hand, his quiff erect and right hand extended towards the audience. Despite a few wrinkles and patches of gray, the now middle-aged Morrissey appears as striking as ever.

"Don't forget me," he says to his fans at Earls Court.

Something tells me they never will.

8

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image