Morrissey - Austin Music Hall
Austin Music Hall sounds like it should be traditional theatre where once vaudeville comedians trod the boards. In fact, located in the city's warehouse district, it appears to be a converted warehouse, its large auditorium holding several thousand. This is the BBC Radio 2 showcase featuring the Zutons, Corinne Bailey Rae, Richard Hawley and Goldfrapp. However, the people who had queued outside since 11:00 this morning, and most of the rest of the crowd, were there to see Morrissey.
Here to promote his new album, Ringleader of the Tormentors, which is released next month, rather than to advertise his wares in front of record companies, his show was a tremendous success. He stepped onto the stage dead on time, 9:00 pm, and quietened the crowd's roar before speaking, "By a shocking act of fate, you find you're in Austin" before the band launched into First of the Gang to Die'. He mixed new songs including 'You Have Killed Me', 'The Youngest is the Most Loved', 'Life is a Pigsty' and 'At Last I am Born' with classic Smiths and some of the better songs from his solo back catalogue.
The new album has very positive reviews, many commenting on the sexuality in the songs. From this show there are some songs which have good tunes but there are still songs where the music is simply an afterthought. 'Life is a Pigsty', a song which reviewers have revered, was, to my mind, an overlong dirge. The best moments were, I'm sad to say, the Smiths' songs: 'Still Ill', 'Girlfriend in a Coma ("In case you were wondering, she didn't pull through'" he quipped at the end) and 'How Soon Is Now? (introduced with a biting "the good old days are good and gone"). As Billy Bragg said the following evening, "those songs made me feel seventeen again, although I was actually twenty-six at the time."
Unlike many of the artists at the festival, Morrissey put on a show. He changed his shirt twice, going from pink to black to brown, each time throwing his discarded, sodden shirt into the audience. He managed to incorporate thirty seconds of a cheesy rendition of the 'Yellow Rose of Texas'. Also there was an encore, albeit only one song. But what a song, `Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me'. And with it Morrissey left, being whisked away immediately, but safe in the knowledge that tonight thousands loved him.