Theo van Gogh Martyrs Brigade
My own gripe with Morrissey performances nowadays
In a thread below speculating about whether Alain is still part of the band, someone wrote:
"Alain is featured VERY prominently in Who Put the M in Manchester; in
fact, he probably has the most screen time after Morrissey--at the least,
neck and neck with Boz."
I don't think any of the band are featured "prominently" in the performance.
There's a few shots here and there, and there's Morrissey's introductions, and then there's the ending where they each walk off one by one and each have a few seconds to give a goodbye.
But really, the overall feel of a Morrissey concert nowadays is of a star singer with session musicians deep in the backround.
This is quite different from Morrissey in The Smiths and Morrissey in the early concerts of the solo years with Alain, Boz, Spencer, and Gary.
Watch the "Live In Dallas" video again. What you see there is a gang. Sure, Morrissey is the leader and the star, but everyone in the gang has a lot of personality that can shine through. Gary sometimes steps forward with his upright bass. Boz is dancing around like a goof, and sometimes smashing a guitar. Alain is striking charismatic poses. And Spencer...well you can't do much when you're the drummer, but somehow I still felt a stronger impression of Spencer than I do with the current drummer. When I think of Morrissey's band, I still see Spencer in my mind.
Mostly I think Morrissey performances have constantly been getting better and better over the years in a lot of ways. At some point in the '90s he started sounding better as a singer in concert. He also seems more at ease in performance and between-song chatter, and has better stage moves, gestures, and dancing.
But I don't like that it's no longer a band with a lot of personality that feels like a gang. Maybe this was inevitable because they're all older now. Perhaps it would look silly if they tried to act like they were in their 20s. And perhaps it's okay for things to change.
And change they have. When people speak of Morrissey's band nowadays, it seems a little fake. What it really is is Boz the "musical director" and an assortment of nearly-anonymous session players who we never get a chance to get to know and who may be replaced without a moment's notice. Oh, sure, Gary Day is back and he's a familiar face. However, he looks like he's just punching in on the time clock and doing his job. He's not the same. the entire band has a more ALL-BUSINESS feel to it.
It's sort of like when David Letterman took his show to CBS and Paul Shafer's band got all corporate. It removed a lot of the coolness out of the show.
And it doesn't help that Morrissey seems to have reacted to his many legal disputes with past music collaborators by vowing to never let anyone else share the spotlight again. I got angry when Morrissey did an interview while promoting "you Are The Quarry" and claimed that the fact the band gets so little press is the fault of the journalists. It's partly yheir fauly, but it's also partly MORRISSEY'S fault. He never talks about them. He probably has issued an order that they should not talk to the press. The only thing we have is one rarely-updated and superficial Tour Diary on Boz's web site where we can find out Boz's Top Ten beers but certainly nothing about the music.
With Alain gone (at least for now) we really should stop talking as if Morrissey has a real band. Jesse seems like a good guitarist, but we all know he's with Morrissey for the JOB just as he did with Alanis Morrissette. No, it's not a band in the truest sense. It's Morrissey the solo artist with Boz the musical director and a bunch of session players punching the clock. Nice guys all, yes. And they sound good, sure. But not a true band. Do they even socialize together? Remember that article where one of them said that during the 7 year break Morrissey was, one day, just minutes away from his home but never stopped by to say hello?