Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

From the granite of Aberdeen to the gold of the Royal Albert Hall, the UK sees the return of indie icon Morrissey.

Dickie Felton first watched the charismatic crooner in 1991 and hasn't stopped. 

The fan went to three of the opening UK gigs to run the rule over the mighty Moz. 

And here’s 12 things he pondered from St Steven’s return to the stage:

1/ Morrissey's voice is stronger and better than ever

It seems a silly thing to say. But at 58 Morrissey’s voice is now about as perfect as it can be.

There is a strength to the singing and a depth to the voice.

I mean, the man can obviously sing (!) but on this tour he has sounded even more remarkable than in previous years.

It's been wonderful to hear Morrissey stretch his voice to new heights - especially with the vocally demanding new album. 

2/ There is no mellowing with age

At Aberdeen Morrissey slated Alex Salmond, in Glasgow he slammed Nicola Sturgeon.

During the set he plays videos showing bulls goring matadors and police goring people.

For some fans it’s been a bit much. I observed one couple look away during The Bullfighter Dies - unable to watch the gruesome violence.

I listen to another fan at Glasgow offended by the Sturgeon comments.

I think he was among a handful who walked out.

3/ Morrissey can dance

He is cutting shapes like he's back in The Smiths.

He looks to be enjoying himself and the dance moves have added to the entertainment.

If we can call a Morrissey gig entertainment.

I mean we are there for the spectacle, the man, the music.

But the unexpected swaying of Steven has added to the fun.

4/ On this tour a cover version meant more to me than Smiths songs

Sorry for this sacrilege - a violation of the awesome foursome. But let me explain:

I was unfamiliar with the brilliance of Back on the Chain Gang until Morrissey started singing it live.

The 1982 track by The Pretenders never on my radar.

But crowds on this tour have had their worlds hijacked by Morrissey’s terrific take on this song.

He should release it as a single.

Much as I loved The Smiths songs in the set - it was The Pretenders classic which made my nights.

Go-on admit how amazing the "oh-ah" bits are. You know you want to.

5/ His audience is getting younger

Mums and sons, dads and daughters. It is wonderful to see generations of Morrissey fans attending the shows.

I see teens attending - who should surely be busy revising for their GCSE Latin or something.

What incredibly intelligent souls they are - attending Morrissey concerts at such tender age.

They are destined for greatness.

6/ Spent the Day in Bed could be his best ever single

Pardon the pillow pun, but it takes a while for a new album to bed-in. Sometimes a couple of years.

The new album is stunning but may take a while to settle into the psyche of the live audience.

In five years we’ll be demanding he play Spent the Day In Bed - but as it’s a new track - it does not necessarily have an established appeal of say a First of the Gang to Die.

That said, I've sung along to every word of STDIB - and firmly believe it to be one of his finest ever works.

Low in High School is his best album since You Are The Quarry (2004).

Lyrically it is a superb record and certain lines during the gigs have taken on supersonic status.

"Tombs are full of fools who gave their life upon command...

and "...Like the last tracked humpback whale. Chased by gunships from Bergen. But never giving in, never giving in."

Tell me you didn't sing along to these wondrous words.

7/ The Smiths are dead and Morrissey plays what he wants

Just two songs Smiths songs played during recent shows - I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish and How Soon is Now.

And I did hear comments from some fans disappointed by so few Morrissey/Marr gems.

But, face it, Morrissey was only in The Smiths for ten minutes (1983-87) compared to 31 years (1987-2018-and-onwards) as a solo artist.

So it stands to reason he play his new album and assorted masterpieces from the solo back catalogue.

I guess for the occasional Morrissey fan (if this strange beast exists?), they want to hear the hits.

The choice of venue has a bearing on this view.

Arena ticket prices are steep and some fans come expecting a greatest hits set with light extravaganza and free vegan soya-shake thrown-in.

8/ Who Will Protect Us From the Police is a live classic

"Baby please run - you were right all along. Venezuela, Venezuela!" WHAT a song live. I enjoyed this more than How Soon Is Now.

The shocking videos of police brutality add to the menace and majesty of this song.

But it can be argued that each and every one of the tracks from LIHS are classics.

To hear them live has been a joy. 

9/ Tabloid media will always hate him

Circumstances beyond my control, I had a few journalists contact me after the Scottish gigs.

They were determined to make a story up about ‘mass walk-outs’ due to Morrissey slagging off Scottish politicians.

I saw one fan walk out - from an audience of about 10000.

I hear Morrissey criticise politicians all the time. It’s what he does.

Some media aren't interested in the fact Moz attracted 12000 fans at Leeds or about his four sold-out London shows. He’s a 80s has-been isn't he?

No mainstream media mentioned Morrissey's touching, moving and absolutely stunning, dedications to the victims of the 1958 Munich air crash. 

10/ The fans are suddenly into listening

The rowdy raucous wide scenes of fandom seem to be tempered on this tour.

Is it to do with the colder cavernous atmosphere of arenas?

Are people still in a state of shock at the price of tickets?

Is it that the wilder elements of the audience have got older and want to listen rather than storm the stage?

Is it the younger audience looking to the older fans to gauge how to behave at a Morrissey concert?

Is it that Moz - the elder statesman of indie - now demands a listening ear rather than a crazed stage invasion?

Probably all of the above? 

11/ The fan atmosphere is electric - before and after the gigs

It was five deep at the bar hosting the Newcastle pre-and-post gig party. 

To witness 150 or so fans hugging and singing Suedehead as one is truly celebratory. 

We are all here - from all over the world - for the same thing. You. Me. Moz. Music.

Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

12/ We all need to Hold Onto Our Friends

Hearing the 1994 album track has been special. And the lyrics have a simple but serious message.

"Be mad, smoke and explode, sell all your clothes, just hold onto your friends".

And for my 28 years going to Morrissey gigs, it's been the people as much as the Moz that makes the experience so mind-blowing.

The old friends, constant friends, new friends, people-I-only-see-at-Morrissey-gigs-friends...

It's been lovely to see you all again. 


Please discuss any of the above - leave a comment below. 

Dickie Felton has written two books about Morrissey fans.

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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