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Brain Police - London Royal Albert Hall, 17/8/2002

  by Andy Snowball

published: 25 / 9 / 2002

Brain Police - London Royal Albert Hall, 17/8/2002


Back from LA for his first British shows in five years, Morrissey recently played two shows at the London Royal Albert Hall. Andy Snowball finds, despite his long absence, that the former Smiths frontman has lost none of his charisma and stage presence

Returning from LA on one of his occasional jaunts, Morrissey’s no-gimmicks show tonight relies simply upon his own reputation. With record labels reluctant to invest in him and no new album to show for it, Morrissey is playing to a hall containing mostly devoted fans, here to see an old friend. They have dressed for the occasion, quiffed and clutching gladioli, and the atmosphere is lively and expectant. Not for Morrissey the snotty reverence reserved for the likes of Belle and Sebastian, here the audience chants like a football crowd, and jumps around and sings gleefully along with him. Defying his reputation as cantankerous and difficult, he bounds onto the stage, waving regally to suit the grand surroundings, and declares: “we’re here to give you a sound thrashing”, before launching into ‘I Want the One I Can’t Have’. The set tonight contains a very light sprinkling of Smiths songs and several from 'Viva Hate'. He also reveals a few new ones, including the wonderfully named ‘The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores’ and a fabulous one called ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’, which is about problems of displacement and identity. Classic Morrissey territory. He dedicates a moving ‘Late Night, Maudlin Street’ to the actress Katrin Cartlidge (who died the week before-Ed) But to a great degree the music doesn’t matter. People are here to be in the company of the man and the audience’s refusal to be bothered by the poor sound testifies to this. He writhes around the stage, shakes audience members’ hands and spins around using his microphone’s lead as a streamer. Then between songs he’s alternately friendly and confrontational, but always witty. “You’re all decent people and you will become vegetarians,” he implores before a searing, tormented ‘Meat is Murder’ which seems him crawling around the stage and howling ferally. Then as it ends he remarks “Bacharach and David would have simply shit to write that song.” He is hugely charismatic. As cliched as it may sound, he really does fill the room – much more than the quiet music does. Following an encore of ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ he whips off his shirt, throws it into the audience (provoking screams and a prolonged scrum) and runs off the stage. He leaves behind a trail of record deal rumours and an audience wondering when it might be lucky enough to spend an evening with him again.

Picture Gallery:-
Brain Police - London Royal Albert Hall, 17/8/2002

Brain Police - London Royal Albert Hall, 17/8/2002

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