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Bill Callahan - Brixton Academy, London, 21/7/2009

  by Anthony Strutt

published: 27 / 8 / 2009

Bill Callahan - Brixton Academy, London, 21/7/2009


Despite being initally cancelled due to illness, Anthony Strutt watches Morrissey play a fantastic set in a rescheduled show at the Brixton Academy in London

This gig was originally going to go ahead on the 29th of May, but, due to Morrissey being ill again, it was put back. Was it worth the wait? Most definitely! Morrissey is someone you follow loyally no matter which album he is currently plugging, And the current one which he is plugging, ‘Years of Refusal’ isn't as good as its predecessor, ‘Ringleaders of the Tormentors’, but this live set, despite being pretty short and lasting just over eighty minutes, wasn’t nowhere as bad as I was told that it was going to be. He comes on at just before 9 p.m. to a rather full Brixton Academy, which he has played so many times now that it must feel like home. The band are all fully suited while Morrissey himself is in a smart shirt, which he changes three times during the set. Talking to the crowd straight away, this once shy lad knows his audience, so much so that he doesn't sign for anyone these days or wants us to meet him. He knows what we want to hear. “How are you? Suck on this!” are his first words as he launches into the worst version of ‘This Charming Man’ that I have heard. I knew in advance that he was murdering this every night on this current tour, but it doesn't matter, This was the Smiths second single and remains a classic for everyone here, despite this version being totally rough and red raw. ‘I Just Want to See the Boy Happy’ has the crowd going mad and its beauty is added to with an additional trumpet solo. ‘Black Cloud’ in contrast has a mood rockabilly beat. The fourth song and the second Smiths song of the night, ‘How Soon is Now’, Morrissey still hasn't nailed live yet, but the 4,500 Smiths fans here still melt in its lyrics and beauty. Everyone sings along to a song they have known all their lives. This song still reduces me to tears as it does tonight, as I stand lost in the mosh pit. Damn, we still need this guy! ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’ has the crowd moshing and singing along in uniformity. This is Steven's calling card. Morrissey gigs are a celebration of all life in which everyone connects with like-minded lost souls. ‘Ask’ is another Smiths classic, another fast one, but this time sounds more like the original. ‘I'm Throwing My Arms around Paris’ is a more recent number, a track from the current album, which you can actually buy in the foyer for a mere £15, something he has never done before. Another number is spat out and has Steven introducing the band, but my memory isn't what it used to be and I can’t remember what it is, ‘Mamma Lay Softly on the Riverbed’ is followed by ‘Poor Education,’ which sees much of the crowd heading for a toilet break, which results in Morrissey asking the rest of us, “Was that quite boring? We can't make it more exciting. Any suggestions!” 'Why Don't You Find Out for Yourself?' remains one of my favourite solo tracks by him, and tonight it shines. This instantly has me dancing and has me completely lost in its European cafe feel. ‘Girlfriend in a Coma', another Smiths track, has everyone smiling and dancing despite its shortness. ‘Last Time, I Spoke to Carol’ has a Spanish feel and continues to give Morrissey fans headaches as they wonder who Carol is or was. The next track is very haunting but its title again is lost in my memory. ‘You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby!’ has me reduced to a pile of tears of joy and dancing wildly, ‘The World is Full of Crashing Bores’ has a long spoken word intro, in which Morrissey bangs on about driving past the Queen’s house and its guests of the day. ‘One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell’ again has a trumpet solo, and has the crowd doing their Morrissey chant, while he goes off to change his sweaty shirt, ‘’Life is a Pigsty’ is a long number and a stand out track from ‘Ringleaders of the Tormentors’. This is followed by a fast rockabilly number, ‘I'm Ok By Myself’ closes the main set. It is played fast with a great bass solo to close the number. We only get a one song encore, which is the usual closer for now, ‘The First of the Gang to Die’, and which is a perfect end to a fantastic night.

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Bill Callahan - Brixton Academy, London, 21/7/2009

Bill Callahan - Brixton Academy, London, 21/7/2009

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