There was that time a few (a few) years ago when I was all amped up because Morrissey was coming to town! Woo! Well, turns out he didn’t. Then he had all these health problems, and I thought “surely he will never come back.” And I began to come to terms that the time I saw him in Chicago in 2011 would be the only time I’d ever see him.
You know, I was content with that, too. That Chicago show was insane, surreal, and 100% burned into my memory forever. The Moz fans in Chicago are like rabid dogs. They are fanatical and SUPER SERIOUS. You never would’ve seen them holding up their phone for 30 long seconds to record a video they’d never watch again. They wouldn’t be tweeting “Morrissey is singing a song right now.” And they wouldn’t be talking to each other during the show, thus disturbing others around them. I was in that crowd, and we all waited together for 7-8 long hours in December in the Midwest. We were aching, tired, and what we wanted more than anything was to see Morrissey in the flesh, to possibly have an opportunity to touch his precious skin, like so many have nearly killed themselves to attempt in the past. He is the Messiah. Come to heal us and deliver his prophecy. And he rewarded us with fan favorites, deeper cuts and candid sincerity in the way that only Morrissey can. And when he left the stage at the end of the night, I was pinned to the front barrier, having just come within inches of touching his hand, and I was overwhelmed, bereft. What I needed to do just then was to sit in a dark room and listen to my headphones.
Last night’s show was a bit of a different experience. I had secured very good seats, but months ago. I easily walked up to the front, with two beers (and would grab another one during the show, no need to fight through a crowd of thousands), sat in my seat comfortably and waited. But it all felt a little different, and I couldn’t figure it out. I think what I discovered is that here in Minnesota, there is a passive obsession for Morrissey (there’s actually a passiveness in most music crowds in Minnesota). And this isn’t true for all fans. I know plenty who are fanatical – like those countless concert goers in Chicago – but they seemed few. It felt like people were there more to be at a Morrissey show, and less to stand in awe of the man himself.
Or maybe I’m wrong about all of it. I do have a difficult time getting into a concert if there are distractions around me. I’m trying to remember this show though, and bits and pieces are coming to me, but not in the same vivid way as my first experience. Morrissey sounded wonderful, though his stage banter was nil, and, perhaps I’m going crazy, but his set seemed abrupt. It ended quietly, with one encore song (What She Said), and exactly zero stage rushes from the crowd. How disappointing! I had such a terrific place in the audience, I told myself all night “When the time comes, I am getting on that stage, or I will die trying.” And I just couldn’t. The venue was small and awkward. My friends who had front row seats had their view sort of impeded by giant speakers taking up 1/3 of the tiny stage.
There’s no way for me to write this without sounding totally ungrateful and like I hated it. I didn’t hate it. I can just barely remember it. Afterwards I kept asking my friends “What song did he close with??” I remember more acutely being absolutely devastated when the lights came up and I was looking around, feeling lost and bereft again like that time in Chicago, but this time it was indignation. GODDAMMIT. I JUST WANTED TO TOUCH HIM.
I am the most grateful that I have that special memory of that first time I saw him. What a perfect way to experience Morrissey for the first time. When there was someone trying to muscle their way up, the true loyal fans pushed him back and said “YOU DON’T LOVE MORRISSEY AS MUCH AS US.” And that gives me a real pride. I mean, it’s childish, of course, but that’s the kind of devotion Morrissey stirs in people. The willingness to get tackled to the ground, and wait for years, after countless cancellations. My god. We will follow him wherever he goes, no matter how badly he treats us, or however short his show is, or how pricey the ticket. He gets it exactly right in All You Need is Me:
You don’t like me
But you love me
Either way you’re wrong
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.
You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.