On This Glorious Occasion
Of The Splendid Defeat

Story and photo by Svenja Brandenberg

Morrissey is back, and he's better than ever.

With a critically-acclaimed new release, "Maladjusted," (1997) and an extensive tour in the US in the second half of the year, he has proven that success without the Smiths is possible. He had lived in seclusion for almost 2 years, his only public appearances made in London's High Court where he and Johnny Marr, former Smiths guitarist, were sued by Mike Joyce, former Smiths drummer, for £1,000,000 in outstanding performance royalties.

Joyce won the case but Morrissey seems to have recuperated well from the trial despite the humiliation by the judge who, among other things, called him"devious" and"truculent". To promote his new album Morrissey paid the United States a rather long visit, his first tour since 1992, to perform in 47 cities, mostly on the East and West Coast, surprisingly, ignoring Texas where many of his American fans are based.

The tour culminated in New York City at the sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom, a venue with a capacity of 3,750. After having suffered from what he called the"New Brunswick flu," he was in good spirits and, compared to his other concerts, extremely talkative and interactive with the crowd.

After a drum intro,"The Operation," taken from his 1995 release"Southpaw Grammar," the band came on-stage, a black-clad Morrissey greeting the crowd, "Hello, sexy." Having left his ever-present shyness backstage, he propelled himself into"Do Your Best and Don't Worry" (Southpaw Grammar), moving about the stage seemingly having a good time. "Hello, New Jersey" was his next welcome, which elicited a decent amount of mock anger from the New Yorkers in attendance. Launching into"Boy Racer" (SG), Morrissey, who after decades of celibacy, now claims to have fallen in love twice, pomped his way around the stage, using huge lascivious gestures and being quite the thespian against his usual homoerotic backdrop, this time a large photograph of Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter cavorting in a swimming pool. To everybody's delight, The Smiths' eruptive and powerful"London" made its first solo stage appearance since the group broke up in 1987 and was received with sheer excitement,even though Morrissey's band struggled to"nail a perfect 10."

With a critically-acclaimed new release, "Maladjusted," (1997) and an extensive tour in the US...he has proven that success without the Smiths is possible.

"Billy Budd" (Vauxhall & I, 1993) was followed by a short interruption due to technical problems that bassist Johnny Bridgwood was experiencing, leaving Morrissey some time to decipher a sign a fan was holding up.Technical problems solved,the ballad "Hold on to your friends" (V & I) was beautifully played by the band, bringing out the best in Moz' voice. He attempted to receive a gift from a fan in the front row by "inviting" her on-stage but due to very tight security, possibly the roughest throughout the tour, he gave up, obviously irritated by the"peace - keeper's" behavior.

The Rockabilly number, "Why don't you find out for yourself" (V & I) introduced the acoustic set and was followed by a sincere"Thank you," the theme of the night. How appropriate, considering it was Thanksgiving Eve. He addressed the fans thanking"all of you who have travelled around with us," emphasizing"it made a great difference." The acoustic session continued, introducing the first song taken from"Maladjusted,""Ambitious Outsiders," containingthe lyrics "Well, it's your own fault for reproducing" and "Don't underestimate us - We're just keeping the population down", sung with scorn and vengeful passion. "Reader Meet Author" (SG) was characterized by an exhilarating stage invasion by a fan who had to work hard to pass the human obstacles to get on-stage, a ritual at every Morrissey show. It was surprising that so few actually made it. But due to the ever-ready and almost brutal security it was understandable. Morrissey was playful with the audience and enjoyed the response to"Alma Matters," the first single release from"Maladjusted." Only two other songs from"Maladjusted,""Roy's Keen," a witty homage to Manchester United's captain and"Satan Rejected My Soul," were played. He ended the show with"Speedway" (V & I), walking off stage during the last verse of the song.

The show reached the height of hysteria when Morrissey ended the first encore,"Shoplifters of the World Unite," another Smiths song and his personal favorite. Musically and emotionally perhaps the highlight of the show, fans were well aware that this show, being the"Grande Finale," would be the last chance to embrace their idol. Towards the end of the song a security goon who was roughing up an industrious stage invader lead Morrissey to point at the bouncer, repeatedly calling him"ugly man." Extremely upset, the singer called it a day and left the stage. The lights went up and"Interlude," a song Morrissey had written for Siouxsie and the Banshees, could be heard over the PA system.

To everybody's surprise the band suddenly returned for another encore, yet another first, as Moz is well known for holding to only one encore. The lights went down again and Morrissey uttered that"if the security won't pull you to death we hope you will enjoy this song". A very happy and sexual"Satan Rejected My Soul," with a high - spirited Morrissey suggestively playing with the microphone, ended the show and the North American tour.

Despite the length of the show, the standard 85 minutes, it was a successful wrap-up of the tour, characterized by intensity throughout every song and a brilliant performance by one of England's most prolific and enigmatic songwriters. Not limiting his show to the current album, he covered songs from his entire career, thrilling the pulsating crowd which had travelled not only from all over the US, but also from Europe, Asia and South America, to see what many presume could have been his last tour.

Morrissey & Svenja