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At the end of the summer of 2002, after five years without a record contract, Morrissey went back on the road despite having no new release to promote. The tour was put together without the help of a record label and served to promote Morrissey as a recording artist still able to fill venues, in the hopes of securing a new record contract. The idea was a good one, the shows sold well, but it would be another year before Morrissey would sign with Sanctuary.
This first portion of the tour covered Western and Southern USA, with a short jump to Japan for two festival dates. More Canadian and American dates were scheduled but cancelled. There were plans at some point for Morrissey to return to North America after the following leg covering Europe and Australia, but these plans were scrapped.
Morrissey was generally as much if not more talkative and comfortable on stage than he had been on the Oye Esteban tour in 1999 and 2000. He again humourously introduced many songs and chatted with fans in the front rows. He still took many liberties with his lyrics, but he sang more 'professionally'. On the Oye Esteban tour he had often played with the melodies, rolled 'r's, talked in between lines or didn't finish them, a habit he dropped in 2002. Another difference with this tour was that Morrissey generally wore only one set of clothes for each concert. Only on 3 or 4 dates did he send a shirt flying into the crowd to be ripped to pieces by his fans.
His personnel were the usual Boz Boorer and Alain Whyte on guitars, and Gary Day on bass. A new drummer named Dean Butterworth joined the gang for the first time, replacing Spike Smith who had toured with Morrissey in 1999/2000.
There was no specific imagery used for backdrops, merchandise or tour programmes. An old photograph of bodybuilder Vic Seipke was used for the crew passes and some crew shirts.
Besides those new compositions, Morrissey also did a few of his early solo songs that had never been done live before: "At Amber" (opening night in Phoenix only, then dropped), "Little Man What Now" and "Late Night Maudlin Street". The latter two songs were just a few of a set which was heavily oriented towards Morrissey's debut album "Viva Hate". The latter had never been toured so it made sense that the man would return to it when he had no new release to promote, instead of playing songs that had been heavily performed on past tours. So singles "Suedehead" and "Everyday Is Like Sunday" as well as "Alsatian Cousin" returned to the set for the first time in 10 years. The latter segued into "Little Man What Now" for almost half this leg, as it does at the beginning of "Viva Hate". Then for the latter half the pair was split and "Little Man What Now" was segued from "Suedehead" instead. The era's b-sides "Hairdresser On Fire" and "Sister I'm A Poet" were also regulars on this tour, and usually very well received by the audience.
The other novelties in the setlist were pulled from the Smiths catalogue. Three songs from that era were done here by Morrissey in solo for the first time. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" was played once only on the very first night in Phoenix, then dropped. The fan favourite "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" was slotted as the encore for most of the dates, while "I Want The One I Can't Have" was the near-standard set opener. The only other Smiths number in the set was "Meat Is Murder" which had also been a regular on the 1999/2000 Oye Esteban.
The sets were rounded up with mid-career fan favourites (and probably also Morrissey favourites) "November Spawned A Monster", "Speedway" and "Jack The Ripper", all of which live staples from past tours.
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 23 concerts.
Alsatian Cousin - 23
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In "Alsatian Cousin" Morrissey usually changed "PS bring me home and have me" to "please bring me home and have me". Further into the song he sometimes extended a line to "leather elbows on a tweed coat Jesus! is that the best you can do?" or "...Christ! is that the best you can do?" Samples of barking dogs were used during that song's bridge. In "Little Man, What Now?" Morrissey sometimes changed '1969' to '1979', '1989' or '1999' and 'ATV' to 'NBC' or 'ABC', but the most notable update was the change of "down to a few lines in the back page of a fading annual" to "back to the mean melancholy streets that you came from". Morrissey would sometimes skip the line "and they axed you" and instead mime it with a throat-cutting motion and accompanying sharp sound. In "Suedehead" the man often changed a line to "...just to see all the crap you knew I'd written about you". The latter song was slightly extended by a few bars at the end, whether it segued into "Little Man, What Now?" or not.
As on the Oye Esteban tour "Hairdresser On Fire" was significantly updated. The song started with "Where is London, so much for London" and the other occurrence of "here is London" was replaced by "so much for London" as well. However in some cities Morrissey took this a step further and replaced London by Phoenix, Yuma or Utah, as in "Where is Phoenix? Jesus! I'm In Phoenix..." He did the previously heard "psychologically shave me", "home of the crass, outrageous and free", "stoned around Sloane Square", "too busy to kiss me" and "when he said I'm gonna screw you, I felt quite happy for you". In the latter case he even took it to "I felt quite jealous of you" on a few dates. A previously unheard change before this tour was "can you tease me into an empty page of your diary". Morrissey often replaced "you are repressed but you're remarkably dressed, is it real?" with "you are depressed, but you're remarkably dressed, and that's all you need" or even "I am depressed, but I'm remarkably dressed, and that's all I need". There were many more minor changes, between "busy busy", "busy scissors" and "busy clippers", and between "supernaturally save me" and "supernaturally change me".
"Late Night, Maudlin Street" was the other heavily updated song on this tour. In this case Morrissey dropped complete verses and rearranged the rest. The new arrangement didn't feature the "winter push on" intro nor the "wherever you are I hope you're singing now" outro. The whole part between the lines "When I sleep with that picture of you framed beside my bed" to "I had sixteen stitches all around my head" was completely dropped. The verse "don't leave your torch behind / a power-cut ahead 1972, you know / and so we crept through the park / no I cannot steal a pair of jeans off a clothesline for you" and the line "I'm packed" were also dropped. Then the lines "but you...without clothes oh I could not keep a straight face / me - without clothes? well a nation turns its back and gags" were reversed with "I am moving house / a half-life disappears today / every hag waves me on (secretly wishing me gone)". Finally the verse "There were bad times on Maudlin Street / they took you away in a police car / Inspector - don't you know? don't you care? don't you know - about Love?" was also dropped.
"Late Night, Maudlin Street" not only featured those structural changes, but also lyrical ones, some minor and others more important. Morrissey sang "love at first sight sounds trite" or "love at first sight it sounds trite", "how you stood on the day", "I never stole one happy hour around here". He sometimes sang "every slag waves me on secretly wishing me gone". The line "There were bad times on Maudlin Street" was salvaged from one of the dropped verses, it replaced "the last bus I missed to Maudlin Street". "Your gran died and your mother died on Maudlin Street" was changed to "Your gran died in pain and ashamed on Maudlin Street". Finally Morrissey dropped the word 'complaining' in "complaining: 'Women only like me for my mind'", which changed the subject of the line and made it sound like he might be the one complaining instead of the person driving him home in the van.
"Everyday Is Like Sunday" was given a whole new live musical arrangement by being played slower and with Boz on the banjo. However Morrissey was slightly more conservative with the song's lyric alterations than on other tours. He still sang "scratch on a postcard" and "please come, please come nuclear bomb". He followed the song's final line "everyday is silent and grey" with a mumbling of "...when you're on your own", or "...especially when you're on your own". The live changes in "Sister I'm A Poet" were the usual ones. Morrissey sang "does anybody feel the
As usual Morrissey dropped the final verse from "Jack The Ripper" and replaced it with a repeat of the chorus. He was more conservative than usual with his lyric changes in "November Spawned A Monster". Only the ones to "you're just so ugly, you're so ugly" and "please hug me, please hug me" remained standard. Here and there only did he change a line to "a symbol of where all mad lovers must always draw the line" (or variations thereof). On a few occasions the latter line was followed by "No, thank you, no". Boz played clarinet during the song's bridge, as he had done on the 1991 Kill Uncle tour. In the only live performance of "At Amber" Morrissey changed "steam away" to "steal away". Actually on the second occurrence of the line he sang "If I had your limbs for a day, Christ! I'd steal away".
Unlike past tours the intro to "Speedway" wasn't dropped from its live arrangement. It was done very slowly and followed with a tension-building gap before the motor sound kicked in. As before Morrissey replaced "it won't work" by "it won't happen" or "it just won't happen" and changed a line to "until this (or 'my') ugly mouth gets shut good and proper, forever! (or yes!)" Besides the above Morrissey also sometimes reversed - perhaps distractedly - the "you won't sleep" and "you won't rest" lines.
In new composition "First Of The Gang To Die" Morrissey sang "first lost lad under the sod". Only once did he sing "first lost lad to be under the sod" which anticipates the album version's "first lost lad to go under the sod". Twice the lines "oh my" and "such a silly boy" were reversed, perhaps again distractedly. In "The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores" Morrissey often sang "educated criminals represent the law", a line that would change before the song's recording for posterity. On a few very early performances of the latter number Morrissey reversed the lines "say a prayer" and "don't stare". In these early performances of "Mexico" Morrissey sang "you'll be alright" instead of the first two occurrences of "you think you're so right" and "you'll be okay" instead of the final occurrence of that same line. The 2002 musical arrangement of "Irish Blood, English Heart" was different to the one we are now all familiar with, but the song was also longer by a few bars at the end and in it Morrissey sang "racist or racial" instead of "racist or partial" which would eventually end up being recorded for release.
Finally there weren't many changes in the Smiths-era material. As usual the chorus lines from the end of "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" were dropped. Instead Morrissey used that time to escape the venue while his musicians finished the song and the crowd supplied the vocals. The musical arrangement of "Meat Is Murder" was slightly less dramatic than the one from the Oye Esteban tour, but still very powerful. Morrissey didn't strain his voice as much and the drums were not as proeminent. An addition to the performance of that song was Dean banging the gong at the end after Boz pretended to stab Morrissey as he lay on the floor writhing like a dying animal. As on the latter tour Morrissey changed the song's final line to "and do you care how animals die?". The live arrangement of "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" was a very rocking one, with the slightly changed line "let me have who I want this time". For the only time in the live history of this song Morrissey didn't extend it by repeating its final two verses.
Nothing else from this leg is available on video at this point in time. Fans interested in more might want to check the few audience recordings of full sets from the European and Australian dates that followed.
Setlist-wise concert collectors will want to get their hands on the Phoenix concert for the unique performances of "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" and "At Amber". All dates up to (and including) 27 August have "Little Man, What Now?" seguing from the end of "Alsatian Cousin", then the pair was split up and the former was segued from "Suedehead" instead. "Irish Blood, English Heart" was only done on the final two dates of this leg but fans of that song interested in a recording of its early live arrangement will just as easily find it from almost any date of the upcoming second half of the 2002 tour, but without its extended outro which was dropped somewhere between America and Europe.