Admittedly, knavish antics have outweighed musical output in recent years: activism, anti-royalism, Tory-baiting and recent 660 page autobiography entitled Autobiography have been distracting. But Morrissey’s recent album, the much-praised World Peace is None of Your Business, along with two Hammersmith dates, announce that there’s life in the old dog yet.
It all began in Manchester in the early 80s, when Morrissey met guitarist Johnny Marr. Together, they formed The Smiths. With their 1983 debut album, they quickly became the most distinctive voice of the decade’s alternative scene, as well as one of the most influential bands in history. Marr’s virtuosic jangling was unmistakable but, as vocalist and lyricist, the band’s voice was chiefly Morrissey’s.
True to their name, The Smiths painted pictures of ordinary people in grey places, buoyed by Morrissey’s sense of drama and taste for doom. The combination of misery and humour, hysteria and humdrum led to such turns of brilliance as: “If a double-decker bus, crashes into us/ to die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die”, “I smoke because I’m hoping for an early death and I need to cling on to something” and " Oh, the alcoholic afternoons/ when we sat in your room/ they meant more to me than any living thing on Earth".
The band gained an immediate and devoted following, which swelled with each of their four albums and remained loyal to Morrissey after The Smith’s acrimonious split in 1987.
Since then, Morrissey has released ten solo albums, on them some of his best work. 2004’s You Are the Quarry is a standout record; its first single Irish Blood, English Heart a masterstroke.
The latest solo output, World Peace is None of Your Business is Morrissey at his finest: truculence and misery, raised aloft by gorgeous instrumentation. (There are some surprises, though: the album nags with arrogant paso doble rhythms and opens with the groan of a didgeridoo). 'Istanbul' tells the tale of a father searching for his son in city streets “Give me back my brown-eyed son Prostitutes; stylish and glum/ In amongst them you are one/ Oh, what have I done?” he laments in his fine baritone, over a crunching guitar riff. 'Earth is the Loneliest Planet' is a weighty flamenco number “Humans are not really very humane… Earth is the cruelest place you will never understand”. With such glorious misery, who needs a happy ending?
|What||Morrissey, Hammersmith Apollo|
|Where||Hammersmith Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street , London, W6 9DZ | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Hammersmith (Piccadilly and District lines) (underground)|
20 Sep 15 – 21 Sep 15, 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM
|Website||Click here to book via eventim.co.uk|