Tag Archive | "The Smiths"

Morrissey – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2015)

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Morrissey – Capital FM Arena, Nottingham (March 13, 2015)

Posted on 16 March 2015 by John Haylock

Morrissey, the man, the myth, the mardy bum. Love him or loathe him you cannot ignore him, some call him a self obsessed opinionated bore not realizing how much some of us dearly  love nothing more than a self obsessed opinionated bore.

March is upon us and we have a further five dates of Morrissey’s latest tour coming up on top of a handful at the tail end of 2014. This constitutes a flurry of live activity in Mozworld, a rare(ish )treat not to be missed. He completed the previous tour at London’s 02 Arena and that was a phenomenal experience for this reviewer. Could this opening night of the 2015 tour come close? (plot spoiler, no not quite)

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On the day of the gig the local paper reports the not very shocking news that all meat products are banned tonight (then have to explain to a readership of young dullards and aging pensioners that the ex-Smiths vocalist is a vegetarian and that they once had an album called Meat is Murder). Local radio have tenuous links to Morrissey in the form of  an aging rocker called Vince Eager as one of his tunes was once chosen by Moz as a favourite to be played at his funeral. When asked if he would be going tonight Mr Eager said ‘No’. What a captivating local story .

There is no support tonight but we do get the preliminary 30 minute film of footage from such unlikely bedfellows as Charles Aznavour, The New York Dolls and Sylvia Plath, the same as the London show, but tellingly with a new clip, Fade to Grey by Visage, in tribute to the passing last month of Steve Strange.

Moz and the band appear to rapturous applause, launching into thunderous renditions of The Queen is Dead and Suedehead, the same intro as London and it soon became clear that this would be a re run set wise of the London show and that is what transpired. He again concentrated on his latest album World Peace Is None of Your Business, but fed us crumbs of previous classics, particularly nice to hear was a cracking version of People Are The Same Everywhere, which was the B side to the 1989 single Last of the International Playboys back in 1989, and the reception that greeted Everyday is Like Sunday was like a tsunami of karaoke joy.

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The tracks from World Peace came over really powerfully, the older he gets the more vitriol he spits and it’s all the better for it.

Meat is Murder with it’s awfully graphic accompanying video was visually and aurally an assault on the senses. Istanbul is a raging anti war song, I’m not a Man rages against stereotypes and ‘The Bullfighter Dies’ does what it says on the tin.

Meanwhile, ‘Smiler with a Knife’ was breathtaking, leaving the the audience spellbound by the intrigue hinted at in the lyrics and topped off with a dramatic guitar solo from Jessie Tobias.

Light relief for the night comes in the form of the tremendously upbeat ‘Kiss me a Lot’ and for this reviewer the icing on the cake was a delirious version of ‘Stop Me if you Think you’ve heard this one before’. A special mention must go to former Smashing Pumpkin Matt Walker on drums, who was a one man engine room of palpable thunder throughout the set. He even got to do the kicking over the drum kit rock n roll cliche thing at the finale, superb!

London was a ten, this is a nine, only because of the incessant chattering on row K and no ‘Shoplifters of the World Unite’. Minor quibbles on an otherwise thoroughly uplifting night.

Dear Moz, can we please have a Smiths reunion before I croak ?

 Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Morrissey – 02 Arena, London (November 3, 2014)

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Morrissey – 02 Arena, London (November 3, 2014)

Posted on 02 December 2014 by John Haylock

The ego has landed…..to be precise he’s landed south of the River Thames, in the Blade Runner-esque environs of the 02 Arena.

Of all the self obsessed vegetarian Penguin classic authors who used to be in a dead famous band called The Smiths , Morrissey is the greatest (in his own mind at least ). We are here to pay homage, and it being ‘that there London’ the homage is a bit on the expensive side, but the disciples don’t care, God is in the house.

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First though, Domino records big white crossover hope, Anna Calvi is not at first glance the ideal person who would come  to mind as a suitable support act for Morrissey. She’s overtly ‘rock chick’ and her guitar playing, of which there is a LOT does not take prisoners. Her lyrics unfortunately drown and scream for air under the combined weight of frenetic and relentless guitar solos, whatever deep meaningful shit she’s singing about it is unfortunately lost in the histrionics. But despite the bombast she did go down well with a devout fanbase in attendance who lapped up tracks from her current album One Breath.

Before the appearance of the man himself we are treated to a brilliant Moz curated montage of images and footage of variously, The Ramones, Brian Eno, Charles Aznavour, Nico, live archive footage of much loved punkers Penetration from 1978 doing ‘Don’t Dictate’, The New York Dolls ripping up German TV  with ‘Lookin for a kiss’, plus some poetry,  snippets of black and white interview clips  and an ecstatically received ‘Ding dong the witch is dead’ accompanied by footage of Thatcher’s funeral. The presumably ex miner on acid two rows in front started clapping and singing along like he was at a Lady Gaga gig. Fantastic.

Lights down, no messing, enter stage left one band plus Moz, dressed all in white like a middle aged angel looking a bit like Stan Laurel. The band do an incongruous group hug, he then walks to the front of the stage and says so honestly it would make grown men cry  ‘I am so privileged.’ In the light of recent guarded hints and ambiguous statements about his health this tearful honesty runs like a river through this gig, lyrics take on new found significance and the gig is one of those rare occasions where a musical event is lifted into a realm that is so much more than mere pop music. Elements of mortality and love and a deeper connection to each other and to our planet spin around your brain. You’ll dance but you’ll probably be thinking about death. He is the king of hilarity and venom, which to those here is a truly great thing.

The music starts with an enormous image of a photoshopped Queen Elizabeth II projected onto the backscreen, she’s giving you the middle finger, then there’s some photos of the vile  Kate and Wills, and out comes a familiar scream  of feedback as the band tear into an absolute scorchio! version of ‘The Queen is Dead’. There’s a collective gasp of recognition and elation sweeping around the venue as madness ensues. This breathtaking opener set the bar high and was only bettered by a delerious version of ‘Suedehead’.

He disses the label who put out the current album World Peace is None of Your Business, who, according to Mozzer, fucked him over. Three of the band also sport ‘fuck Harvest Records’ T-shirts, to hammer home the point. Despite this he’s clearly proud of the album and tonight plays virtually its entirety, veering from delightful jaunty pop fluff of ‘Kiss me Alot’ to the intensity of ‘Smiler with a knife’ and especially ‘I’m Not a Man’, which really comes alive with its repeated denouncements of stereotypical male bravado bullshite.

His version of ‘Meat is Murder’ is just staggering, starting with an angry tirade over the current contaminated supermarket chicken fiasco, he goes on to state that ‘people might die ha ha ha!’ There follows some very harrowing footage of the wholesale slaughter of animals for the food trade, whilst the music builds to a climax amidst a vivid red strobe lightshow and a rockingly intense coda. I’m going veggie after that!

That previously mentioned thread of mortality and loss is never more evident than on the penultimate number ‘Asleep’ the B side of ‘The Boy With the Thorn in his Side’ from 1987. The huge venue falls silent and we try decipher the clues (at this point, go listen) it’s not difficult.

By the end a stunned crowd is floored, shredded and torn asunder, this is ART baby and don’t you forget it. Finally, he brings the evening to a close with a flourish, he reprises one of his greatest singles Everyday is like Sunday, a most fitting ending to a stupendous gig.

by John Haylock

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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

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Top 100 Albums (20-11)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday. Hope you enjoy this latest instalment. The rest of the Top 100 can be found here.

20. The Flaming Lips – Soft Bulletin


Soft Bulletin from 1999 marked a change of direction for The Flaming Lips from their experimental  earlier albums to a more conventional  rock sound. Although  coming after Zaireeka, their four disc album to be played on four separate stereo systems simultaneously, arguably anything would have seemed conventional. ‘Race for the Prize’ and ‘Waiting for Superman’ are among many highlights on their ninth album Soft Bulletin, but perhaps our standout is ‘The Spark That Bled’, a perfect example of how the band managed to merge their sentimental charm with a psychedelic edge. This commercial direction for the band was to continue for the next two albums, with great effect on album number 10 Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. By their 11th album At War with the Mystics this focus on pop music seemed a little tired and they made a welcome return to  their experimental roots with the sprawling 2009 double album Embryonic.

19. Ryan Adams – Heartbreaker

On his first solo outing after splitting Whiskeytown Ryan Adams recorded a surprisingly honest and sensitive album considering his alt-country bad boy reputation. The album is a homage to the good and bad side of relationships, moving between celebratory and despairing over 15 brilliant tracks. After an opening conversation about Morrissey albums it kicks into the rollicking country-blues of ‘To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)’ before settling into a quieter acoustic feel for the remainder of the album (excepting the Stonesy ‘Shakedown On 9th Street’). Backed by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (two of the best players in rootsy Americana) the playing is never less than excellent and the singing (including duets with Emmylou Harris) is top notch throughout. Great singing and playing coupled with the best set of songs in Adam’s, never less than interesting, career add up to a great album.

18. Belle and Sebastian  – The Boy With The Arab Strap


For us aged, fey indie-kids at Neon Filler picking the best Belle and Sebastian is a tough call. Sometimes 1996’s If You’re Feeling Sinister is our favourite, other times Dear Catostrophe Waitress whets our appetitie. But after having a good trawl though their back catalogue in recent weeks the one we keep coming back to is their third album, 1998’s The Boy With the Arab Strap. The production is pitch  perfect allowing the subtle instrumentation to work around lead singer Stuart Murdoch’s stories. There’s some great tunes as well. Among our highlights are the title track, ‘It Could Have Been a Brilliant Career’ and ‘Dirty Dream Number Two’. Guitarist Steve Jackson’s turn on lead vocals on  ‘Seymour Stein’ is another highlight on this much loved album by this much loved band.

17. American Music Club – Mercury

American Music Club - Mercury

Most critics name the previous American Music Club, Everclear, as the bands finest hour but we think that Mercury just pips it as the band’s true masterpiece. Mark Eitzel paints a pretty bleak picture lyrically on many of the songs here but his soaring vocals, lush instrumentation and warm production soften the blow. It is the most varied album of the bands career mixing slow paced ballads (‘I’ve Been A Mess’), indie pop (‘Keep Me Around’) and loose noise (‘Challengers’). Guitarist Vudi sounds like he is fighting the urge to let rip at all times, but it is this forced restraint that adds tension to the quieter songs. The album contains the bands greatest and best known song ‘Johnny Mathis’ Feet’, a deserving entry into the great American songbook. Eitzel is a confusing and oblique character, but anyone who writes a song with the title ‘What Godzilla Said to God When His Name Wasn’t Found in the Book of Life’ deserves our attention.

16. The Mountain Goats – Sunset Tree


The Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle is a master story teller. On latest album All Eternals Deck the focus was on other’s lives, including Judy Garland and even Charles Bronson. But on 2005’s The Sunset Tree Darnielle looks to his own life with dramatic effect as he recalls his teenage years in an abusive home. Across the album these deeply personal tales chart his escape into a world of video games, music, drink, drugs and storytelling away from the grim reality of his homelife and his drunken step father. It’s harrowing stuff, but never depressing. The tracks from ‘Dance Music’ to ‘This Year’ are about survival and are full of hope.  Final track ‘Pale Green Things’ provides a  fitting conclusion with Darnielle recalling his step father’s death and remembering a rare nice day out at the race track. For more about The Mountain Goats read our Top Ten Bands That Changed Our Lives article here.

15. Sparklehorse – Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot

The late Mark Linkous released four albums as Sparklehorse in his too-short life and Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot was a dazzling and mesmerising debut. Played largely by Linkous alone (with a handful of musicians including David Lowery in support) it is an eclectic, sad and beautiful collection. Despite moving between the soft elegance of songs like ‘Homecoming Queen’ to the catchy alt-rock like ‘Someday I Will Treat You Good’ and the dischord of ‘Tears On Fresh Fruit’ it always sounds cohesive and natural. Linkous came from a traditional folk background and moved into alternative rock music, the album suceeds in bringing these styles seemlessly together. This works perfectly on the banjo lead ‘Cow’ with the memorable refrain “Pretty girl, milkin’ a cow, oh yeah”.

14. REM  – Murmur


Back in 1982  executives at record label IRS were keen to send their recent signing REM on the road to rock stardom. Only problem was that the band were having none of their methods. Shunning the label’s choice of producer Stephen Hague and pressure to incorporate guitar solos and synthesisers into their music, they instead wanted to create a timeless feel. With producer Mitch Easter, who had worked with the band on their first EP Chronic Town, on board the band managed to get free rein to turn the tracks they’d been touring for a year or so into the album they wanted. From start to finish this is packed with great tracks with first single ‘Radio Free Europe’, ‘Talk About The Passion’ and ‘Catapult’ among many highlights. Musically it’s a mix of The Byrds, particularly through Peter Buck’s guitar style, and Pylon, the eccentric new wave band from their home town of Athens, Georgia. REM’s approach was proved right in the end. Wthin a few months of its release they were well on their way to superstardom, supporting The Police at Shea Stadium and producing a fine run of commercially and critically acclaimed albums throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.

13. Talking Heads – More Songs About Buildings And Food

Talking heads - More songs about buildings & food

Picking the best Talking Heads album is tough, most of their albums (including either of their live albums) could claim a place in this chart. One of the most important American acts of the 1970s and 80s they mixed soul and funk influences into their jittery new wave sound. More Songs About Music And Food takes a measured step forward from their 1977 debut and embraces David Byrne’s interest in the people and landscape of middle-America. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth provide a tight simple backing to the wired frontman and neat guitar interplay with Jerry Harrison adds texture to the bands sound. The album contains few of the band’s best known songs, only their cover of Al Green’s ‘Take Me To The River’ was a hit, but it is their most rounded collection. ‘Found A Job’ stands out in particular, with a great instrumental outro, and is as good a song as you’ll find by any of New York new wave acts.

12.Blondie – Parallel Lines


Has there ever been a better female fronted band than Blondie? In our ears and minds the answer is a clear ‘no’. Take Blondie’s third album, 1978’s  Parellel Lines for example. It boasted a ker-ching making six singles among its 12 tracks. What’s more  the album tracks that didn’t make it on to 7” were pretty fine  too. Blending rock, new wave, and even disco on ‘Heart of Glass’, the tracks echo the sixties at times, such as on ‘Sunday Girl’. Under producer Mike Chapman  it was musically inventive too, with the guitar work of King Crimson’s  Robert Fripp  on ‘Fade Away and Radiate’ still capable of sending shivers down our spines to this day.

11. The Smiths – The Queen Is Dead

As the album opener ‘The Queen Is Dead’ kicks in with punchy bass and drums you are immediately aware you are listening to something pretty special, and equally aware that Morrisssey was wrong to dismiss the role of Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce in the band. The Smiths were one of the most important bands of the 1980s and it is difficult to overstate tyhe fanatcism of their fanbase at the time. Morrissey is a fascinating figure and, like him or not, their has never been another singer like him and his lyrics are witty and erradite here. Jonny Marr shines on the album and the arrangements are uniformly excellent throughout, it is also a little surprising how subtle and restrained his playing in. Only ‘The Boy With The Thorn In His Side’ showcases his signature jangle and it isn’t until the end of ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ that he lets rip (and then only for a short burst). ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ is the highest peak on an album of peaks and deserves a place on every best of the 80s collection.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers

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