22 May 2004|
M.E.N. Arena, Manchester, England
First Of The Gang To DieThis concert was one of the most memorable ones of 2004. It was Morrissey's return to Manchester after an absence of 12 years and the 18000 tickets sold out in only 90 minutes. It was also the man's 45th birthday. Morrissey seemed to be very happy about the turnout and the reception he got. He looked relaxed and was very talkative. The stage was six feet high and security very tough, so no one made it on stage to give him birthday kisses, despite many attempts. The venue was a big arena so the sound wasn't the best, but still excellent. Some sections of the arena were not as lively as others, but that is to be expected with concerts of this size. Nevertheless the reviews were excellent.
Because this concert took place on the week when "You Are The Quarry" was released, more fans were familiar with the new material than on the recent American warm-up dates. Also, bootleg recordings of the latter concerts had meanwhile leaked onto the internet and this also helped many fans get acquainted with the new material. The audience was treated to 19 songs instead of the usual 17, including five from the Smiths days which were rapturously received. So from the recent warm-up dates setlists all songs were played bar "All The Lazy Dykes", "I Like You" and "Hand In Glove".
So it was Morrissey's birthday, but he was the one giving gifts. Many sets of 5 badges were left on seats at various places in the venue. Some had photos of Morrissey on them while others had text, such as 'He stole all hearts away 22.5.04' (view). As if this wasn't enough Morrissey also threw the three shirts he wore throughout the evening into the audience to be fought over.
Morrissey entered stage at the end of the "Imperfect List" walk-on piece as he had done on the recent warm-up shows. As on the previous date he sang accapella four lines from Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as an intro to set opener "First Of The Gang To Die". However he didn't go for the same lines, instead he sang "Regrets, I've had a few, but then again, too many to mention". After the first song he greeted various areas of Manchester and acknowledged his prolonged absence: "Hello Shudehill, hello Harpurhey, hello Rusholme... after all these years..."
As an intro to "Irish Blood, English Heart" Morrissey announced "Which of course at the end of the day, makes me ten parts Crumlin and ten parts... Old Trafford..." Those were references to the area of Dublin (Crumlin) which his parents left to emigrate to Manchester (in Old Trafford). During that song he picked up an Irish flag that had been thrown on stage, waved it around, then tossed it back into the audience. The song has just made the British charts, crashing in at #3 which was a record for a Morrissey or Smiths single. This prompted Morrissey to follow the song with the sarcastic comment "And how very nice and natural it feels to be back in the British top ten... among such outstanding talent as Frankee and Eamon... I'm really privileged..."
There were minor guitar problems during "The Headmaster Ritual". After the song Morrissey told his favourite fan "Because Julia the past never dies, the past never dies... man will!" After "Everyday Is Like Sunday" he jokingly announced "Amazingly we finally have a new album and apparently the most recent word is that if we sell seven more copies we'll come in at number one tomorrow (crowd cheers)... However the thing is, we might not sell seven copies... believe me..." (Morrissey was right, it was announced just a few hours after the show that it made #2). He then introduced "I Have Forgiven Jesus" with "This is from our new album and please God, somebody likes it..."
After the latter number the crowd broke into a chant of Morrissey's name and the object of the chant said "It's a beautiful song... no that's a beautiful song... louder!" He then threw into the audience the plant he had had hanging from his crotch zipper since the beginning of the show. Following "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday" he joked "I feel very good... I can't believe I'm 29... Where did the years go? Why did the years go? (someone in the audience answers: 'because they must!') Oh yes very well put... Yes Boz!" As an introduction to "Rubber Ring" he repeated "As I was saying to Julia, the past never really dies... not really... the past is myself and..." The latter line may or may not have been a reference to Christabel Bielenberg's book titled "The Past Is Myself".
"Rubber Ring" was extremely well received and Morrissey thanked the crowd with "how kind you are, thank you..." He then asked a shouting fan "Is that your natural speaking voice? Really?" After the line "most people keep their brains between their legs" in "Such A Little Thing Makes Such A Big Difference" he added "some don't!" Similarly after that same line at the very end of the song he said "And that's a fact! And I should know!... Yes absolutely..." Future b-side "Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice" was then introduced with "This is an even newer song that 'You Are The Quarry' and it's called 'Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice'."
After the latter song a fan shouted "I love you!" and Morrissey replied "Are you sure? Don't you think you should give it some more thought?" He then introduced "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" with "I mean, it's fantastic people out there like Britney Spears who are just so incredibly popular and very gifted and... which leads us, by no accident, to 'The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores'..." After the song he answered to some other fan's shouts: "What? Just get it off your chest now... you never know what happens, we may never see each other again... If George W has anything to do with it we may not..."
After "Let Me Kiss You" Morrissey proceeded with the customary introduction of the band: "I met them all at Salford Lads Club a few years ago... Could I please introduce to you... born and braised in Burnt Oak, Boz Boorer... born and braised in Kneesdon, Gary Day... born and braised in Rochdale, Deano... born, we think, Alain Whyte... (Alain: actually I'm from Camden) Did you hear that? Did you hear that? Alain they didn't hear that... (Alain: shall I say it again, I'm from Camden) He's from... he's trying to tell you that he's born and braised in Camden Town... and last and absolutely never never least, born for some reason in Cleveland, Mikey Farrell... and there's absolutely no evidence I was actually born..."
The cover of Raymonde's "No One Can Hold A Candle To You" was introduced with "If you would now please indulge me with a cover version, Julia knows... from the 1980s and (someone shouts: The New York Dolls!) No, the New York Dolls were not in the 1980s (Morrissey giggles)... but nice try, and why don't you name that tune!" After the song Morrissey returned with the question "So could you name the tune? Ah! Who? Spandau Ballet? No..." The crowd favourite "Jack The Ripper" was then introduced with "There's something about Whitechapel... not much... but something..." After that one Morrissey told the cheering audience "You are kindness in itself..." Then the crowd started chanting his name again and Morrissey, feigning surprise, said "Me? Me? Me?... Oh stop it!..."
In live performances of "A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours" on this tour Morrissey usually changed a line to "my youth may be gone but I'm still a young man", but on this day he actually sang "my youth may be gone but I'm still good, man". There were a few more sound difficulties in that number so after it Morrissey asked "That really was just a bit wobbly wasn't it? Did I sing in tune? No? Do I ever sing in tune? Was I ever singing?" He then had a few words with someone in front of him, and that lead to the introduction of "I'm Not Sorry": "Sorry, sorry Bob? What? I'm not sorry..." During the song someone who's not part of the band came on stage to play the flute outro.
Before going into main set closer "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" Morrissey said "And yes it really is my birthday today and... well... who cares of course but... nobody really but... it's been the nicest birthday I've ever had... so far!" The end of the show was getting near so during that song there were many attempts by fans to get on stage. Morrissey kept a close eye on the situation, shook many hands, and halfway into the song said "You'll never make it on this stage... nevah!"
When he returned for the encore, before the band launched into "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out", Morrissey said "Oh Manchester, nothing to answer for, you've made a happy man very old... Whatever happens please don't forget me..." Halway into the song there were more very serious attempts by fans to make it stage. To one in particular Morrissey said "I know... stretch man, stretch!" At the end of his vocal part Morrissey threw his shirt into the audience and walked off. Then one at a time Alain, Boz, Gary and Deano put their instruments down and followed, leaving Mikey by himself to play the orchestral melody of the song. His turn came, he stopped the song and joined his bandmates backstage.
The full concert minus five songs ("I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday", "Rubber Ring", "Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice", "No One Can Hold A Candle To You" and "Jack The Ripper") was broadcast on television in late 2004 and early 2005.
Do you have information about this concert? Or do you own an uncirculated recording of it? If yes please contribute and get credited.
One of the audience recordings above, or perhaps the audio from "Who Put The M In Manchester?", was released under the title "Oh Manchester So Much To Answer For", without "I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday".