Morrissey sauntered on to the stage last night (Sat 3 March) like a cowboy, with the microphone wire as his lasso. He swung it about dramatically to a cacophonous hymn; the football style chants of his name seemed to permeate the crowd, adding to the air of anticipation which hung low among the masses of the filled Brighton Centre.
A pre-show vido, which consisted of a montage of vintage clips and footage provided a cinematic take on a support slot. It offered clips of James Brown, Dionne Warwick and Russian pop pair Tatu performing, initiated a sense of nostalgia with the re-emerging Top of the Pops logo and the classic movie theatre trait employed by the big-screen projection.
An apprehension seemed present as he opened to The last of the Famous International Playboys, likely due to his unpredictable and uncertain attributes which the ‘Low in High School Tour’ has foregrounded in this past week, particularly during his Glasgow date as he faced a diminishing crowd after asking the audience: “Do you actually like Nicola Sturgeon?”. However, this lull dissipated quickly as the crowd adopted an energy and vivacity which evoked an impressive counterbalance.
Throughout his performance Morrissey, clad in a silk black shirt, and loose trousers, adopted a preaching style, innovatively set against a screen featuring often unnerving footage relating to the politically driven lyrics, for example The Bullfighter Dies was accompanied by a poignant and sickening video of a bullfighting tournament, and Who Will Protect You From The Police saw a shocking video documenting police brutality. At moments he seemed to be conducting a sermon, as he sashayed across the stage, his voice strong and resonant. He yelled: “All we need Is you”, with an exaggerated gesture at the crowd when dismissing the importance of awards and accolades in the music industry.
Despite the assumption that he should be distant and above, Morrissey assumed a more palpable and heartfelt identity during the softer sounding songs like Home is a Question Mark as he reached out to the wall of raised hands which had been constructed along the front row, amorously. With only one song on the setlist by The Smiths, some fans may have been disappointed, however a cover of The Pretenders’ Back on the Chain Gang was well received as well as the resurfacing of All You Need Is Me which had been absent from the setlist since 2014. He chose this song to conclude the set before returning to the stage with a passionate performance of ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’. A stirring and provoking way to leave the audience.
The sold-out Brighton show heralds the conclusion of the Low in High School tour with only London dates to go. Morrissey will be playing two sold-out shows at the Royal Albert Hall (Weds 7 March) and Alexandra Palace (Fri 9 March), before closing the UK tour with an added date at the London Palladium (Sat 10 March).
Words by Jemima Callaghan
Image byMonika Stolarska