Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

There's no place like home: Morrissey live in Manchester

Morrissey has graced music venues in his birthplace a dozen times as a solo artist.
And the bard of brilliance will tread the boards of Manchester for the 13th time when he steps out at the city's Arena this Saturday night.

Since his first appearance at Manchester Apollo in 1992, the MozFather has played everywhere from The Lowry to Lancashire County Cricket ground.

He's even (un)celebrated two of his birthdays (aged 45 and 50) by singing in the city.

This weekend he'll make his third appearance at the largest venue in town - Manchester Arena (or Manchester Evening News Arena to you and I).

Over the last 24 years I've attended nine of the 12 Manchester Morrissey shows.
And despite a horrific (and unnecessary?) price tag of £75 to stand-up, I'll be there again come 8:30pm GMT Manchester UK.

It's often very special seeing Moz play his hometown. The dozen previous dates of destiny are set in stone for all who were there.

What has always struck me at Manchester Moz shows is the amount of international fans who jet in. It's almost like they MUST see their hero in Manchester to be complete in some way.

Well I Wonder if Moz himself feels he has to touch base with the northern soul of this city to feel complete too?

After all, he claimed less than a year ago that his winter London shows would likely be his last in Blighty (due to "lack of interest from record labels").

Morrissey clearly feels now is the time to come home. To feel the rain, for the greased tea, for some vegan delicacies from a bakery near his Ma's in Hale. A new record deal is afoot, his new (old) album World Peace Is None of Your Business is set for relaunch.

Things are looking, dare I say it, reasonably rosy in Camp Moz.

But it's not always been plain sailing for the solo singer returning to the stages on which he was braised. Let's take a closer look at the ditty dozen dates when Moz came home:

Manchester Apollo

It's been nearly a quarter of a century since I first watched Morrissey play Manchester.
His gig of 15 December 1992 at the Apollo goes down in Felton folklore.

Me - lean at 19 - a veteran of half a dozen or so Morrissey shows - was beside myself in excitement.

Pre gig guitarist Boz Boorer chatted to fans over pints in the pub next-door.
Fanzine sellers, over from the US, did a roaring trade as anticipation grew.
Support act - the Well Oiled Sisters - a rockabilly or folk - four or maybe fivesome - went down well.

Soon it was time for a Manchester crowd to welcome home the long lost son.
Early into the show he burst into Suedehead and I clambered over rows of seats to touch greatness.

I managed to scramble one foot on stage and reached to shake my hero's hand.
It was a split second where my life and Morrissey's converged. A joy.

Next up, my face on Manchester tarmac having being ejected by mean bouncers. Don't you know, don't you care about love?

Never one to let an army of power-lazed thugs ruin my night, I paid £15 to a tout and matched straight back in. (Watching the rest of the gig from the anonymity - and sanctury - of the rear stalls).

Funnily enough, Tim Booth of James was just arriving to watch the show as I attempted re-entry.

Despite this concert being a return to Manchester as a solo artist, there was a somewhat subdued mood.

Songs from his latest album - Your Arsenal - sounded great along with a smattering of singles, b-sides and Viva Hate album tracks. Boz Boorer even played in (Bona) drag.

But the night lacked a warmness. Things were not quite right. Maybe it was the seats? Fans shackled while only a hundred or so could stand in front of the stage.
Maybe it was the over-zealous security? After I'd been frog-marched to dismal December air, Morrissey took the venue's henchmen to task.

I know this as my mate Ian was still inside the venue. He said Moz "went mental" having seen one of his young and over-enthusiastic followers manhandled.

Maybe my semi-successful-semi-doomed-stage-invasion had inadvertently set the scene for the entire evening. For the encore Moz himself seemed lost: "I'm confused. I'm not sure why?" Or words to that effect.

During the last song - National Front Disco - a dozen or so fans followed my example and made it on stage to hug their man. They were subjected to rough security treatment like me. And then Morrissey was gone.

It would be more than a decade for him to return to the city of his birth. Twelve years to be precise.

Manchester Evening News Arena (M.E.N)

The "come-back" Quarry tour of 2004 saw Moz playing almost everywhere including Manchester Evening News Arena on 22 May - his 45th birthday.

The show was filmed and later released on the DVD Who Put the M in Manchester.
A legion of my mates secured tickets and the atmosphere was spectacular.

Free badges were handed out to fans and love was all around.

Franz Ferdinand got things off to a flyer. Then Elvis-style-showtime lights spelt out MORRISSEY.

The show was played in a frenzied state. Moz appeared and went all Sinatra: "Regrets I've had a few, but then again, too many to mention". And then it was straight into The First of the Gang to Die.

Although we were a zillion miles from the stage it didn't matter a jot. This was a hugely celebratory gig. Morrissey's new album stood at number 2 in the charts and it felt like he was top of the pops in every sense. There were media appearances galore and Moz returned as a cover star in NME.

The setlist comprised lots of Quarry and several stomping Smiths songs too. There Is A Light brought the house down.

Things looked like they couldn't get any better. But they did...

Lancashire County Club
Manchester Move Festival

You wait an eternity for a Manchester Morrissey show and then two show up all at once.

Just eight weeks after the M.E.N spectacle Morrissey was back on home turf.
11 July 2004 saw the second coming of Moz as part of the Manchester Move Festival.

It was to be a mostly all-standing-summer-Sunday-love-in. Morrissey hand-picked the support line-up for this huge open air Mozfest.

Included was an in-between-song rant at a former teacher ("mow dead") and a swipe at a previous employer when Moz was a young lad.

Footage of this show is available as an extra on the Who Put the M? DVD.
This was a truly fabulous day and night marked by epic singalongs to the likes of Everyday is like Sunday.

At several points in the show Morrissey seemed genuinely taken aback by the frenzied singalong from his fans.

Of course, the greatest moment for me was meeting Morrissey on the eve of this gig.

Starstruck and incapable of reasonable conversation I just gave it a few "um's, ars, and like ers oh my god it's Moz" before insisting on a photo.

A more detailed commentary of this meeting at the Lowry Hotel is contained in my first book. The inventively titled: The Day I Met Morrissey.



The Lowry
The Apollo

Morrissey announced FOUR Manchester dates as part of the 2006 Ringleaders tour.

Eventually, the singer would go on to play a staggering six gigs in Mancunia in 2016.

The ticket scramble wasn't too stressful as Morrissey was due to call at several other northern towns on the tour. While I missed out on both The Lowry and Apollo shows, I was happy in the knowledge I'd be seeing him in Halifax, Leeds, Liverpool and London.

So what did I miss? Both Lowry and Apollo shows were a swaying cauldron of emotion.

As I wasn't there I'll leave comment to BBC reviewer Chris Long who laughed at the Lowry: "As always with Morrissey though, the show was as much about hand-clasping his adoring fans as it was the songs, and his devoted congregation didn’t disappoint; the cry went up, "Get your shirt off!" Morrissey simply turned and smirked. "For what?" he replied, "you can’t be that starved."

The Opera House

I nearly missed this show too. I ran the Leeds half marathon in the morning and Frankly Mr Shankly I was a bit knackered.

At mile 13 my Leeds mate Nick text me with that offer of a ticket which, given my preoccupied running state, I initially turned town.

I know: Lunacy.

It took ten minutes of self-evaluation (and some clugs of Perrier) to correct my mental state, before doing the right thing and calling Nick back.

Within a few hours I was strolling Piccadilly and toasting St Nick and Nat for services to Felton's Morrissey obsession.

Fans in the 1900 theatre were treated to a very intimate evening of rough songs and delicate moments.

Moz made jokes about the number of Manchester shows with words along the lines of: "How many more Manchester shows can you take?"

And of course we were all back for more the following night.

Bridgewater Hall

Moz moved just half a mile down the road to complete three Manchester shows in three nights.

The Bridgewater Hall is a huge auditorium. All gleaming new and all seater.

For this tour Moz was walking on stage to Nina Simone and Smoking Popes versions of You'll Never Walk Alone.

The songs were sometimes met with boos from the crowd as the anthem is associated with rival city Liverpool (it's a silly football thing).

Moz was quick to disassociate the song from its usual football connotations: "it's not just about Stevie Heighway."

Unfortunately this was another Manchester show marred by heavy handed security.

A few attempts by disciples to touch Morrissey were dealt with aggressively and swiftly.

It took the shine off an evening with the band playing in a Manchester venue possibly with the finest acoustics.

My mate felt so incensed he wrote a strongly worded letter to the security firm. I think he's still waiting on a reply...

Manchester G-Mex
22 and 23 December 2006

Morrissey completed six Manchester shows in 2006 with a two night stint at the old G-Mex.

I say "old" as it was due to undergo a facelift and a rebrand in the 15 seconds or so after the curtain was brought down.
What could be more magical than a winter wonderland of St Stephen in the run-up to Christmas?

Er, probably a magical six pints of ale by a roaring open fire in the Midland Hotel.
We got a little too comfortable, and enjoyed a little too much liquid Christmas cheer before we made our way 60 yards to the venue.

These two gigs were massive shows in terms of numbers of fans attending.

Never the best view from the floor, and never really the best sound.

But a hugely emotional version of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want made both nights wonderful.

I met Jim Glennie -the James bassist who was also enjoying a Merry MozMass.

Manchester Apollo
22 and 23 May 2009

Always on tip top of my game I was completely oblivious when tickets went on sale for Morrissey's 50th birthday show. What a dope.

I think I was too pre-occupied with the release of my Morrissey book.

Ticketless and clueless, I rocked up to the venue regardless and struck lucky. An American fan, Cathy, had a spare ticket and I was IN.

The barrage of books I held (ready for sale) were subsequently stashed somewhere safe.

And er - revelation time - the only safe place was under Morrissey's tour bus. Well, I figured it wouldn't be moving anywhere for a few hours.

Once inside fans wore special 50th Moz tees and souvenir lanyards were given out to all who attended.


Up in the circle I shared seats near Janice Long, Jo Brand and Alan Carr among a few other celebrities.

The gig was fantastic. Morrissey entered and screeched: "50 gruesome years!"

From my place in the gods I watched the constant throng of bodies towards their God.

A magical night for Moz to celebrate his half century. Boz Boorer and the band even played the opening bars of Happy Birthday and we all sang along. Morrissey winced.

After the gig I was able to shift my first copies of The Day I Met Morrissey.

The morning after the night before we officially launched the book in a dimly lit Manchester city centre vault.

Champers passed our lips before lunchtime.

After a few hours celebrating books, friends and Morrissey we emerged into the light to carry on one of the best weekends ever.

Both these shows were a celebration of the man. And maybe that is what Manchester Morrissey gigs are all about. A festival of Smithsdom for young and old.

Manchester Arena

Early-doors-Moz caught a few fans off-guard with an 8:30pm arrival on stage.

In contrast to his 2004 appearance at the venue, there was no real razzmatazz or names in neon lights: Just Moz, his band and the songs.

Pre gig I interviewed some fans for my second book: Morrissey International Airport, and the scene was filmed as part of an excellent BBC Inside Out special (watch below).

During the gig me and Matt Jacobson shared pints and a pining for Morrisseyfrom our mixing desk vantage point.

Hardly one to please the neutral fan, Morrissey played newish songs Scandinavia and Action is My Middle Name.

He took a swipe at the London Olympics opening ceremony for not being invited.

It took some old songs to get the 16000 crowd really going. Everyday is Like Sunday sung from all present. A night you wanted to go on forever.

Manchester Arena

So what does Saturday hold? Number 13 of Morrissey Manchester shows could be his very best. Only time will tell.

This is his only UK show of 2016 so really try and make the most of it. Be mad be rash just hold onto Moz.

Please learn your lessons from 2012 and get in early. Damien Dempsey is support and is not to be missed.

I will see you in the bar, with my head on the bar. Angel Pub we go down together. 

Tickets are still available.

For setlists and more detail on every Morrissey show ever go to the excellent site: www.passionsjustlikemine.com

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Morrissey International Airport

Morrissey International Airport

An account of what it means to be on the road with the last great pop star and his people.

The Day I Met Morrissey

The Day I Met Morrissey

A collection of real-life accounts from fans who for a split second found themselves in the right place at the right time