Show Review: Morrissey at The Paramount Theater, 12/02/2009

by Mielle Sullivan on December 3, 2009

Moz Points

Shirt number one

Alternate titles for this post are:

What, no shirt?


The View From the Back of the Balcony

So, tonight I saw Morrissey for somewhere between the 15th and the 20th time. I lost count during the 2007 tour when I followed him around California and saw almost all the shows he played there, plus two in Reno.

So I guess it is pretty obvious I am a hardcore fan. Not the hardest of the hardcore. Not the people who follow him all around the world or fly across the country to see him every time he plays–I only did that once. I also don’t perpetually dress up like Morrissey, nor have I named a child after him. But I know people that have, and I almost understand. And, Ok, I’ll admit I went to Manchester just to see his old haunts. I was in England, and a day later I went to Liverpool to see historical Beatles sites in a bus of 20 people.

I say all this because it colors how I saw this show. It’s a bit useless to try to explain if you don’t already know, but Morrissey had become a subculture all to himself.  As such, there are certain traditions that we have come to expect at concerts–members of the audience rushing the stage to try to get a hug and Morrissey throwing at least one shirt, still glistening with his sweat, into the pit. I have been to shows where he threw three. Tonight, nothing. I have never seen him not throw at least one. A little disappointing. It’s like Thanksgiving with no cranberry sauce.

Shirt number two

Shirt number two

Anyway, to anyone who hadn’t seen him a bunch of times, this was a very solid show. His voice was great, the songs were played impeccably, there were none of the sound problems that happened too often during the last tour. He played old songs including five Smiths songs, and many off the most recent album Years of Refusal and the recently released B-Side collection Swords. A good mix.

For those who have seen Moz several times, this was a good, but not really memorable, show. There just wasn’t the bristling energy that makes a Moz concert great. Northern California crowds are just not as crazy passionate as L.A. or English crowds and something about the atmosphere of the Paramount itself tends to subdue a lot of energy. It also may be that I was sitting way in the back of the balcony, where it is harder to gauge the emotions on or near the stage. Everyone did stand up the moment he came on stage and stayed that way the whole time. But hardly anyone really danced.

In England, “Irish Blood, English Heart” will bring the house down in a storm of raised fists. Something similar happens during “First of the Gang” in L.A., but no house came down tonight, at least not that I could see.

It was great to hear “This Charming Man.” I had heard from other fans that this tour’s version was a perversion because it had been made “too rocking” but I liked it. Also great to hear “Is It Really So Strange?” as I had not heard that live before. Downright weird to hear “Death at One’s Elbow,” because it’s old and obscure and just a weird song in general. I would not have guessed that would be the next to be brought out of the vaults.

The encore seemed shorter than usual and preliminary fan reports seem to indicate Morrissey might have become uncomfortable after a few people rushed the stage. But these were, from my view, very gentle stage-rushers and I have seen him almost welcome more aggressive ones.

Maybe it’s just the lack of shirt throwing, but although Moz put on a good show, he didn’t seem particularly passionate himself tonight.  Overall, Morrissey and his songs still radiated the same sheer dignity of the human heart that made him famous.

Moz Dark

Morrisey’s set list for 12/2/09:

This Charming Man
Black Cloud
Death at One’s Elbow
Arms Around Paris
One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell
Cemetery Gates
Teenage Dad
Crashing Bores
Why Don’t You Find Out For Yourself
Is It Really So Strange
Irish Blood English Heart
Poor Education
How Soon Is Now
The Loop
Daddy’s Voice
First of the Gang


Thanks to Dina Marie for the photos on this post.  You can see more photos from this show, and literally thousands from other shows, on her Flickr page.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

David Price December 3, 2009 at 10:46 am

WHAT? he didn’t cancel? I thought that was his thing….


Mielle Sullivan December 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

Dudes, he was sick last time.

To my knowledge the only other time he has canceled a Bay Area show in recent history was an Alice festival in 2004. The Lalapaloza festival of 2005 disintegrated, but that had nothing to with him. In 2007 he played 6 Bay Areas shows, if you count Santa Rosa, as scheduled.


Caroline December 3, 2009 at 11:41 am

Gordon and I happened to have tickets to that particular Alice show. It was very disappointing at the time, but now that I think about it, I’m glad that’s not how I saw him for the first time (Festival in the Park).


Suzanne December 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I cannot believe he didn’t play “Suedehead.”


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