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Although this tour has the same name as Morrissey's compilation of videos on DVD, it wasn't put together to promote it. The "Oye Esteban" video was released in October 2000, after the tour was over. At this point in time Morrissey was without a record contract, so there wasn't any new release to promote. Therefore it was with a great dose of doubt that fans awaited these first American dates. But they were not to be disappointed. The tour did happen, and it was a great success. Morrissey was much more into it than he seemed to be in 1997 or even late 1995.
After these few warm-up dates Morrissey and the band flew to Europe where they would tour for two months. They would return to the USA however in December for more dates and a more elaborate tour of North America in early 2000.
Personnel: Boz Boorer (guitars), Alain Whyte (guitars), Gary Day (bass) and Spike T Smith (drums). The latter was replacing Spencer Cobrin while Gary Day returned to Morrissey's backup band for the first time since 1995. For these performances, Spike didn't seem to have mastered the songs to perfection. He would show significant improvement later in Europe.
Morrissey's general attire for these dates included a blue West Ham Boys t-shirt and a jacket. Both would generally end up in the crowd. Morrissey also wore a belt with a Mexican flag buckle. A shirt saying "Mexico" was also worn once.
None of the three Smiths songs played on these dates - "Is It Really So Strange", "Meat Is Murder" and "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" - had been performed by Morrissey before. Actually the latter number hadn't even been performed by the Smiths. It replaced "Shoplifters Of The World Unite" as the standard encore.
Two "Viva Hate"-era songs were also given their live debut: "Hairdresser On Fire" and "Break Up The Family". Also from the early years "November Spawned A Monster" was played at Coachella only. This was the song's first live performance since 1992. The "Your Arsenal" album supplied two titles, "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" and "Tomorrow". The former was always slotted as set opener as it had been on the Your Arsenal tour. The latter title had more or less been neglected on the tour for that album and was going to be given a higher profile in 1999.
The fan favourite "Vauxhall & I" which had been heavily promoted on the Maladjusted tour was represented by "Billy Budd", "Now My Heart Is Full" and "Speedway". "Southpaw Grammar" had also been well promoted on the latter tour and was also represented by three songs: "The Boy Racer", "Reader Meet Author" and "The Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils".
Morrissey's most recent album "Maladjusted" was now 2 years old. It was represented by two of its singles, "Alma Matters" and "Roy's Keen" as well as another neglected fan favourite, "Trouble Loves Me", each played on two of the three dates of this section. This tour's novelty was the debut performance of two b-sides from that era: "Lost" and "The Edges Are No Longer Parallel", also performed twice each. The latter title would actually never be performed again after this.
Finally "Sunny" rounded up the setlists of the first two dates. On the North American legs of Maladjusted tour the song had been given a low profile because it was only available as a UK single and on a European Best Of. Since then it had been compiled on the North American anthology "My Early Burglary Years" and was therefore (potentially) familiar to a greater number of fans.
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 3 concerts.
Billy Budd - 3
Click here for more tour statistics.
Morrissey was at his most playful with his older material, and "Hairdresser On Fire" is the best example. The Oye Esteban version started with the alternate lines "Where is London, so much for London" and other occurrences of "here is London" were replaced by "so much for London" as well. Morrissey sang "psychologically shave me", replaced "you are repressed but you're remarkably dressed, is it real?" by "you might be depressed, but you're remarkably dressed, and that's all you need" and sang "and you're all so busy", "stoned around Sloane Square", "just too busy, busy scissors, busy clippers", "when he said I'm gonna screw you, I really felt happy for you" and finally "too busy to kiss me".
In "Break Up The Family" Morrissey replaced "I want to see all my friends tonight" with "I want to be with my friends tonight", "to move away from those younger years" and "...darker years" with "to move away from those awful times" and "I'm in love for the first time" with "I'm in love for the last time". The 1999 performances of "Meat Is Murder" were always very heartfelt and powerful. The new Oye Esteban tour arrangement of this song was very dramatic. Morrissey always sang it with a lot of emotion in his voice and ended it with the alternate question "And do you care how animals die?"
In "Is it Really So Strange" Morrissey changed "I found a tiny house" to "I found a modest house". Further down he sang "Oh yes you can slice me, and you can butt me, and you can dislocate my shoulder but you won't change the way I feel", or similar variations using the verbs chin, shin, butt, punch, slice or kick. The funniest change was the one to "I lost my wig in Newport Pagnell". Then the final line was sometimes changed to "I can never go back home alone".
In "November Spawned A Monster" Morrissey sang "You're just so ugly, you're so ugly", "Oh hug me, please hug me" and "could you even bear to kiss me full on the mouth or anywhere". More interestingly he sang "but she'll be walking your streets in the clothes that she went out and stole for herself". In "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" a line was changed to "Someone kindly told me that you've collected very sharp bread knives". In "Tomorrow" Morrissey replaced the second or even sometimes both occurrences of "through my shiftless body" to "through my miserable body".
On two occasions "Billy Budd" was updated by changing a line from "now it's 12 years on" to "now it's 18 years on" although to keep up with the chronology it should have been "...17 years on". The Oye Esteban tour version of "Speedway" still lacked the album version's three opening lines. The first occurrence of "keeping me grounded" was sometimes changed to "leaving me grounded" and "it won't work" was always changed to "it's never gonna happen". On the final two dates Morrissey sang "you won't smile until my ugly mouth is shut good and proper". In "Now My Heart Is Full" he dropped the word 'puny' in "just some rain-coated lovers' puny brothers", thus making the vocal delivery easier. He also changed "jammy Stressford poet" to the more autobiographical "jammy Stretford poet".
In "The Boy Racer" Morrissey sang "I'm just too good looking" and mumbled instead of singing the line "I'm gonna kill him". The only constant change in "Reader Meet Author" was "you hear the way this sad voice sings". Other changes such as "have you ever escaped from a Phoenix life" or "I'd be the first away because I'm that type" were one-offs. As in previous live performances of "The Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils", only the first verse was done, followed by the litany of "to be finished would be a relief", so that the song would not last 10 minutes like it does on the album. On the last two dates Morrissey actually changed the latter line to "to be Finnish would be a relief". Then to make sure nobody missed the pun, he followed this with "to be Mexican would be a relief, to be Scottish would be relief, etc..."
Just as he had done on the 1997 Maladjusted tour Morrissey replaced the line "I will be set alight" in "Roy's Keen" with "but that's alright" and skipped the eight lines that followed. On one occasion he sang "we've never seen a keener midfielder". On one occasion in "Alma Matters" he sang "it's my life to end my own way". He also sang "So, the life I have blown away" instead of "So, the life I have made". In "Trouble Loves Me" he replaced "otherwise hold me" and "otherwise kill me" respectively by "oh somebody hold me" and "somebody kill me". He also sang "which is only the way it should be".
Strangely in "Sunny" Morrissey changed a line to "they're not forgiving me, and I'm not even wrong". In "The Edges Are No Longer Parallel" he replaced the second occurrence of "then you're bound to stay down" with "then you'll always feel down". But more interestingly he changed "my only mistake is I'm hoping" to "my only mistake is I've never been hopefull", "my one mistake is I'm realist", "my one mistake is I'm intelligent", "my only mistake is that I keep hoping for nothing" or "...for something" or "my only mistake is I'm English".
Content-wise the first two dates are still quite interesting if one is after the only two performances of "The Edges Are No Longer Parallel". Putting sound quality in the equation then collectors should seek the best of the two Tempe bootlegs for the best live version of that song. "November Spawned A Monster" was only played once on this short portion of the tour, but better versions of that song are available on bootlegs from the upcoming legs.