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Morrissey and his band returned from two months spent touring Europe and the UK to do a few dates on the America West coast. They would tour the rest of the USA and Canada more extensively early in the new year.
As earlier on the Oye Esteban tour Morrissey was more talkative than ever before. He made jokes and chatted with front row fans every chance he got. He often even did this during songs instead of singing, and it understandably bothered some fans because it disrupted the flow of the songs.
After limiting crowd invasions during the previous UK/Europe legs, fans were gradually accepted on stage again, with a good deal of supervision from Morrissey's security personnel. Morrissey himself often helped fans up, encouraged them, and commented on their success or failure. These comments would sometimes be delivered between song lines, and again this is something that disrupted the listening experience of some concert attendees. Even when he didn't comment Morrissey was often distracted about what was happening in front of him.
Morrissey's general stage attire was again the West Ham Boys Club shirt with jacket, or the Mexico short and long sleeve shirts. As earlier on the tour the man returned for a few encores dressed in his sailor suit. Finally for the final few shows he came on stage dressed in a black all-body PVC suit that was reminiscent a famous Elvis outfit. He would keep the suit for a handful of songs then change into something else.
Personnel: Boz Boorer (guitars), Alain Whyte (guitars), Gary Day (bass) and Spike Smith (drums). Spike was getting better as time passed, but Spencer Cobrin, Morrissey's previous drummer, was still missed by many.
With the exception of the final date the sets opened with the pair of "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" and "The Boy Racer". The standard encore was the Smiths' "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me". Other regulars were "Alma Matters", "November Spawned A Monster", "Reader Meet Author", "Tomorrow", "Is It Really So Strange", "Hairdresser On Fire", "Speeway", "Meat Is Murder", "Now My Heart Is Full", "The Teachers Are Afraid Of The Pupils" and "Break Up The Family". "Billy Budd" was performed three times, "Lost" five times and "Trouble Loves Me", "Sunny" and "Roy's Keen" once each.
Here is the number of times each song was performed on this leg, in descending order of frequency. This is based on 9 concerts.
A Swallow On My Neck - 9
Click here for more tour statistics.
In "Break Up The Family" Morrissey replaced "I want to see all my friends tonight" with "I want to be with my friends tonight". He also replaced "to move away from those younger years" and "...darker years" with "to move away from those awful times". "I'm in love for the first time" was often - but not always - changed to "I'm in love for the last time". The 1999 performances of "Meat Is Murder" were always very heartfelt and powerful. The Oye Esteban tour arrangement of this song was very dramatic. Morrissey always sang it under red spotlights, with a lot of emotion in his voice and ended it with the alternate question "And do you care how animals die?" On most night the song was followed by a moral that ended with "Just. Say. No!"
In "Is it Really So Strange" Morrissey always changed "I found a tiny house" to "I found a modest house". He sang "Oh yes you can chin me, and you can shin me, and you can break my teeth but you won't change the way I feel" for the first few dates. This then became "Oh yes you can chin me, and you can shin me, and you can dislocate my shoulder blade", then "Oh yes you can chin me, and you can shin me, and you can even skin me" for the rest of the tour. The title line "is it really so strange?" was sometimes followed with a shout of "yes!". The funniest change was still the one to "I lost my wig in Newport Pagnell".
In "November Spawned A Monster" Morrissey didn't make the changes to "You're just so ugly, you're so ugly" and "Oh hug me, please hug me" anymore. In the same vein, he sang "I'm so ugly" and "could you even bear to kiss me full on the mouth or anywhere" only once or twice. Meanwhile the changes to "but she'll be walking your streets in the clothes that she went out and stole for herself" and "a symbol of where mad, mad lovers must always draw the line" were now almost standard. Boz used a recorder during the song's bridge.
In "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" the change to "Someone kindly told me that you've thrown away... every good thing in your life" was now done every night. Morrissey didn't sing "Oh you don't need to look so peeved" anymore, but when he was in a playful mood he sang "you're gonna need someone on your snide. The song always segued in quick succession into "The Boy Racer".
In "Tomorrow" Morrissey usually replaced "something that you never do" with "...that you'll never do", but at least twice he actually sang "...that you shouldn't do". He also replaced "I won't tell anybody" with "I won't tell anyone" and the second occurrence of "through my shiftless body" with "through my miserable body". "Billy Budd" was not updated to "now it's 18 years on" anymore, so there were no more live changes left in that song. The Oye Esteban tour version of "Speedway" still lacked the album version's three opening lines. The line "it won't work" was always changed to "it just won't happen". On most dates Morrissey sang "you won't smile until my (or this) ugly mouth gets shut good and proper". This was followed by a shout of "Yes!" instead of "...forever".
In "Now My Heart Is Full" Morrissey dropped the word 'puny' in "just some rain-coated lovers' puny brothers", thus making the vocal delivery easier. The line "I'm tired again - I tried again" was usually changed to "I was tired again, I tried again". Morrissey also often changed "jammy Stressford poet" to the more autobiographical "jammy Stretford poet", or something improvised like "jammy L.A. poet" or "Tijuana poet". In "The Boy Racer" he didn't change a line to "I'm just too good looking" anymore but mumbled, breathed loudly or made funny noises instead of singing the line "I'm gonna kill him". A banana was again waved at crotch level during the 'urinal' line in that song.
The only constant change in "Reader Meet Author" was "you hear the way this sad voice sings". The change to "have you ever escaped from a Mexican life" was a one-off and "I'd be the first away because I'm that type" wasn't done anymore. As in earlier 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. Morrissey sometimes changed a line to "in fact you think it's essential", and once to "sometimes you think it's essential". For some reason on this leg the man often talked or sang different words over Alain's back vocals during the "to be finished would be a relief" part, which made it quite confusing to listen to.
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. As earlier on this tour he changed lines to "we've never seen a keener midfielder" and "well it's here right under your nose and you just can't smell it, can you?". However he did not replace "smiling on time" by "frowning on time". He was a bit more conservative than before in "Alma Matters". The only regular change left was the one to "So, the life I have thrown away". He replaced "it's my life to ruin my own way" with "it's my life to wreck my own way" on a few dates. 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 you're not even wrong". He also sang "tell us all how things are no better" instead of "tell us all how things are so much better". In "Swallow On My Neck" Morrissey changed the whole chorus to "But then you drew a swallow on my neck, there was no more to say, you drew a swallow deep and blue, and from then on I knew".
The best options soundwise are the recordings of the first Hollywood Palladium and San Diego concerts. They were both taped by a member of the audience and they sound almost as good as if they had been taken from the soundboard. Setlist-wise fans might want to get the second San Francisco concert for the only performance of "Trouble Loves Me", or the second Hollywood Palladium date for "Billy Budd" and "Sunny". However these songs were also performed on earlier legs of the tour.