Pasadena Civic Auditorium
Pasadena, California, USA
February 2, 2007
Night: Two of Three
In many ways, "Bout Two" - as Morrissey introduced the second night of three at the Pasadena Civic - was a vastly improved affair. The reasons were purely performance related: Morrissey's voice was still pitch-perfect, as it was the night before, but the old man seemed much more focused tonight. Last night, you couldn't shut him up between songs, and he took his shirt off more than Matthew McConaughy at the Sky Bar on a hot summer night. Tonight, he cut the shit and put everything into the songs.
"Hi, Y'all!" he growled, much in the same tone he used when he greeted audiences in '86 when the Smiths were on top of the world (Listen to the first few seconds of Rank and you'll know exactly what I mean). So right out of the box, he was brimming with confidence and the cheek showed in the kick-off song, "Panic."
Back was the whipping of the microphone cord as if it was a lasso, as was his darting back and forth into the mouth of the orchestra pit. I wouldn't exactly call it a return to the days of the Your Arsenal tour, but he was in fine form for a stocky 45-year-old Irishman who seemingly leads a very wealthy comfortable life these days.
But it wasn't a perfect night. If 100 people were in the orchestra pit last night, there were about 300 tonight which was cause for an unpleasant, if uncomfortable experience if you were unlucky enough to be in it. Also, security got wise to all the shenanigans from the previous night and the entire floor was on complete lockdown with guards double- and triple-teaming all access points, playing a fine game of zone defense.
Oh sure, some assholes made their way down, like the tall mongoloid and his needy Chinese girlfriend to my left who proceeded to nudge me into the, well, I'll say it, the chubby cunt in row F, section: center right, seat 5, with the cheap black leather jacket, plastic headband and a penchant for sucking down overpriced vodka-cranberries, who accused me-- me!- - of sneaking into "her row" from the cheap seats.
"You're in our row," she snorted as Morrissey and the boys were seconds away from launching into a ferocious version of "In the Future When All's Well" (My favorite track of Ringleader). "Do you have a ticket for your seat? I'd like to see it."
"Yes, I have a ticket," I responded incredulously as I pulled out my Bill Silva indusrty-issued ticket and held it up, six inches away from her bloated face. "Yes, this is my seat."
But Chubby Cunt wasn't buying what I was selling.
Two songs later, "The National Front Disco" (which was a pleasant selection, but sorely lacked the glammy edge it once flourished with thanks to the splashy crashes of the cymbals from the one-time drummer, Spencer Cobrin and the searing lead guitar of Alain Whyte who is still violently missed), Chubby Cunt starts up with me again.
"You're not supposed to be here," she bellowed as she leaned into my personal bubble. "You have to go back to your seat."
"Listen Honey," I wearily said. "This is my ticket, this is my seat. If you have a problem with that, get an usher and we can settle this right now."
At this point, the band launched into "Dear God, Please Help Me." It's the part of the show where the lighting dims, the hall hushes and for all intents and purposes, it's where Moz shifts gears into a full-blown torch song singer.
Last night, the song just didn't play well as he just wasn't fully into the performance. Brand-new keyboardist Vincent Jones couldn't find the right key and a distracted hall just wasn't giving feedback and attention to the egocentric artist who feeds off his or her audience.
Tonight, the crowd seemed much more receptive, entranced even, by what can only be deciphered as a confessional to Morrissey's sex life. Fans that were close to the stage that were really paying attention even saw old Moz get a little choked up towards the end of the song. It was the only time he flubbed his key and to be quite honest, I felt like I was an obtrusive third party, listening in on a breakthrough session with his therapist. I was close enough to see his eyes well and brow furrow.
Of course, I almost missed this heartbreaking moment due to the fact that Chubby Cunt just would just not stop badgering me about my existence in "her row"- - yes, she called it "her row" throughout the evening.
"What row are you supposed to be in?" she yelled as the house lights went out and the opening synthetic chords of "How Soon Is Now?" kicked in.
As much as I love this song and as much as it reminds me of my formative teen years spent drinking cheap beer during lunch in the parking lot of San Dimas High School, this new live version just butchers every memory it's ever created. And it's really no fault of this year's backing band, the tune (which was dubbed as my generation's "Stairway to Heaven" by Seymour Stein), is impossible to recreate live-- hell, even the Smiths were never able to pull it off sufficiently. They got close many times, most notably during the UK leg of the Queen is Dead tour, but it's a studio track. Always has been, always will be.
Speaking of backing bands, Boz the de facto music director, must have slapped a few of the rookie's heads around after the previous night because the musicianship vastly improved tonight. No, it wasn't perfect and guitarist Jessie Tobias still came in wrong with clunker notes more than a few times, but Jones seemed in-key more than he was off-key which is all I was hoping for: improvement.
Solomon Walker, new guy on the bass with the shaved head was just fine-- he wasn't awful and he wasn't a standout-- he was just there, a place holder. Unless your name is Andy Rourke or Stanley Clarke, you're not really going to do anything new with the bass guitar.
Matt Walker, drummer for hire, is starting to impress me more and more, every time I see him. He didn't suck when I saw him banging those shitty electrical drum pads for Billy Corgan during last year's TheFutureEmbrace tour and he continues to impress me now with a proper drum kit. With that said, he'll be gone by the next LP.
Further improvements were made with the wardrobe. Instead of last night's Good Humour Men, we got the band in tasteful beige trousers and crisp white oxford shirts, accented with black belts and matching shoes. (I know, a weary detail, but the people want to know.)
"This is the last time I'm going to tell you, you need to go back to your seat" Chubby Cunt demanded during the first song of the encore (a luscious version of "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" and to me, the highlight of the show) as Morrissey ran off the stage after he was pushed over onto the floorboards by the lone stage invader of the night who then proceeded to miraculously escape the clutches of Morrissey's personal humongous Mexican security and dive into the orchestra pit like Pete Rose into second base.
The crowd roared with vicarious triumph as the skinny kid took out at least five overweight faux-greaser types while Boorer made a quick gesture from behind the curtain as if to say, "Well, see you tomorrow because I don't think the boss is going to feel like playing the last song after that kid took him down."
But seconds later, Morrissey and the boys returned to the lip of the stage, arm in arm, with an old-school bow and then a quick version of "Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice" before he threw his third shirt into the right side of the pit. The night ended as quickly as it began.
So what happened to Chubby Cunt you ask? Well, she went her way and I went mine into the cool night air of Pasadena, but I left formulating my written revenge all the way home whereas she most likely drove through Taco Bell or some shitty fast food restaurant. Here's to us meeting one more time during Morrissey's final act in Pasadena.
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Read Alarcon's wordy review on Night One of Morrissey's three-night stand at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium here, equally wordy review of Ringleader of the Tormentors LP here, and while you're at it, please read our two earlier Ringleader concert reviews from last year's tour: Moz at the Alexandra Palace on May 1, 2006 and Moz at Wembley on December 8, 2006-- written by our handsome UK Editor, Kirk Lake.