Sunday, May 31, 2009

Get Off The Stage: Morrissey - Brixton Academy 28 May 2009

You're not a true fan of Morrissey unless you've had a cancellation”. Mark Reed reports.

With the steam of his stunning 2004 comeback spent, it's the usual album-tour-album treadmill from Morrissey. Despite working at near enough full speed for the past six years, releasing three albums, two live sets and a best of (not actually that far off the prolificity of his former band The Smiths six year life), Morrissey can't seem to do any right.

With five of the last eleven gigs cancelled at short notice, Morrissey meanwhile is someone who simply seems to take a somewhat relaxed approach to touring. Even in the days of The Smiths, the notoriously impulsive man often failed to show up at airports and video shoots and recording sessions : as if the vocation he had been gifted was simply too much hassle. Truculent, devious, unreliable. I know a man with time on his hands.

Whilst there's no denying Moz is probably seriously ill and unable to perform, has anyone considered that perhaps he needs to have a less vigourous touring schedule and more days off?

Because there's hundreds of people in London with expensive hotel rooms, booked flights and trains, and time off, staring at an empty stage in Brixton, doing something they'd rather not be doing because a 50 year old man seems to make a career out of not turning up to work. And whilst the adage is Morrissey Does Not Work For You, it also seems to be that Morrissey is an entity who is keen to find excuses not to sing his life. Work Is A Four Letter Word.

It's not as if Morrissey is an amazing concert proposition these days : his svelte and tight band of the nineties has slowly evolved into cheaper, more pliable, and somewhat lumpen musicians who do exactly what they are told, when they are told, dress how they are ordered, and act as 'ambassadors' for the Morrissey brand. One could argue that this life-as-art ethic is an extension of Morrissey's vision. Or one could say that The Nation Of Morrissey is a bit of a dictatorship. The band may be effective, but simply put, with the absence of the genius foil of Alain Whyte and the Gary Day / Spencer Cobrin rhythm section, Morrissey's band has become a bunch of jobbing salary men. Watching Morrissey these days reminds me of Iggy Pop and Bowie videos from the late Eighties – bands made of too many musicians and bloated egos of singer to whom no-one ever says “No”. These musical Alan Michael Sugars yelp “YOU'RE FIRED!” at brilliant musicians with personality and replace with cheaper, and more obidient replacement parts. A musician is not a piece of moulded steel, an axle or a new gear, but an artist.

So, whilst we could be watching Morrissey bludgeon 'This Charming Man' with ex-members of The Red Hot Chilli Pumpkins (in confidentiality contracts) as his backing band, 15,000 people in London will find themselves doing Something Else. For those for whom the Morrissey pilgrimage is of no small concern or expense, those who travel long distances to see Moz in his capital city – and there are many who book precious holiday and spend the little money they have doing this – find themselves loafing oafs in all night chemists whilst precious Morrissey consistently and persistently cancels at the last minute day after day after day.

It's too late for people to cancel hotels, or flights, or time off work. I don't mind if you forget me, Morrissey. But you've become Papa Jack, and you're losing friends and allies faster than the government. You silly old man, get off the stage.

UPDATE : Since publication, a few people have suggested I am a "low life 3rd rate writer".. I thought I'd clarify a thing or two. I'm fed up of the large number of last minute cancellations Moz seems to commit with increasing regularity. If he's not as young as he used to be, don't have such a frantic touring schedule and rest more.

Morrissey has performed a few hundred concerts in his life. He's also cancelled a rather large proportion of those. Of the last nine scheduled concerts in London, he's cancelled or postponed eight of them. On his 2009 US Tour, he cancelled seven out of 33 dates. On his 2009 UK tour, he's cancelled eight out of 15 shows. On his 2008 UK Tour he cancelled 2 and a half shows out of 11. On his 2007 US tour, he cancelled 9 shows. Let us not forget that he cancelled / abandoned two and a half dates in 1992, a US tour in 1994, abandoned a UK tour in late 1995, and cancelled proposed European shows in 1996. He was also known to 'go missing' at airports, TV shows, and other venues, as well as cancelled dates in Europe and America from the days of The Smiths onwards.

Ultimately the issue here is whilst Morrissey may be genuinely ill, he has consistently made a habit of treating his fans with little respect, cancelling concerts profusely and at short notice, and showing contempt for those who make considerable sacrifices to see him perform. Maybe his fans should simply 'cancel' a show and no one turn up at all? How could anybody possibly know how he feels?


CarlyMC17 said...

This is just as inconvinient for Morrissey as anyone else, he is rescheduling them you know, he's hardly doing it on perpose, he has never bin this bad before it's just creped up on him, give him a bit of a break.
and if people are gonna be traveling all over the place to see him, it's there problem, he never asked them to.
anybody thats a fan knows he isn't that reliable to turn up, so people shouldn't be so shocked about it when it happens.

Patrick Gray said...

What do you mean he never asked them to?
What;s he supposed to do: force thousands and organise trainloads of deported fans?
What drugs are you on?
The guy advertised his gigs and charged quite a few bob for them too.
If he is a bit sickly fair enough, but he should re-think his schedule.

You may be too young but one day you may find out what it's like to book time off work and spend hard worked money on flights and hotel . Then you'd be pissed off too.

Emma said...

Carly, I wonder if you'd say that if you were one of those people who spent a fortune on transport and travel to see him play?

Personally speaking, I wouldn't want to be fan of an artist who clearly doesn't give a rat's derriere about his fans.

As for what you say about this rescheduling just 'creping' up on him, you obviously didn't read the article properly. Moz has been cancelling shows and not showing up for years. It's hardly a new thing, here.