Morrissey is a man who likes to start fights.

The former vocalist for 80’s legends, The Smiths ripped off his shirt halfway through “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” sending those who had abandoned their theater seats for the front row into a tizzy. They salivated as he raised up the embroidered lavender button down and tossed it halfheartedly into the crowd. The inevitable scuffle ensued, mega fans vying for their right to the shirt. Morrissey continued on, unaffected by the fighting, ignoring the irony of making such a gesture during the song. Check out the complete setlist and photos after the jump.

When you see Morrissey live, you have to be willing to accept the diva. You’re going to get a note perfect set, but you’re also going to get a man who has his opinions and wants you to consider them. If you’ve gone vegan by the end of his magnificent performance, even better.

He employs every tactic in the book to make his case. One video shown before his set featured Joaquin Phoenix drowning, his expression changing slowly from slight concern to utter panic. The voice-over reinforced how for fish, being forced out of water is just as horrible.
During the infamous Smiths song, “Meat is Murder,” the screen projected “Meet Your Meat,” a PETA video featuring gruesome imagery of some of the worst slaughterhouse practices in our country. The song brooded, bubbled, and reached a boil while the audience watched hens being de-beaked, chickens being stuffed into cages, and cattle being castrated alive. Not only did Morrissey force the crowd to watch, but he followed the upsetting song with a slowed down, bare bones version of the aforementioned “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want,” the ultimate crowd soother. He knows how to push and pull his audiences.

Despite Morrissey’s heavily political gestures, his backup band of five crew-cut men in Ford shirts delivered an impeccable performance, recreating favorites like “Irish Blood, English Heart,” “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,” and “Alma Matters.” Their decided lack of “quiffs” (the style of pompadour he’s known for) emphasized their unity as a backup band. Smiths’ gems included “Still Ill” and “Shoplifters of the World Unite.” The final song before the encore was The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” where Morrissey sings, “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.” But he is adored far more than the average man, and he loves it.
Opener Kristeen Young was a strange mix of Joanna Newsom and Gwen Stefani, scurrying around in a windswept houndstooth dress with the scarf permanently flying off to the left (held up by wires). Her massive coiffed pompadour slowly fell down, a wonderful sign of her energy and enthusiasm. She belted out soulful and often high pitched lyrics over busy synth melodies, sounding catchy at times and incredibly disorienting at others. Despite its strangeness, her performance won the audience’s hearts for its passion and earnestness. She was the perfect opener for Morrissey for her dramatic, theatrical tendencies.

Morrissey often reached out to touch his fans in the front row, genuinely appreciating their adoration. At one point he posed the question, “Is thought more important than expression?” and handed the microphone to various people to answer. When a few people said they’re equal, he replied, “Wise, but wrong. Very, very wise, but wrong.” This got a laugh out of many. Someone screamed, “I love you Morrissey!” and he replied wearily, “You must be really alone.”

Perhaps the tradeoff between musicianship and a magnetic diva is not as black and white as it seems. Somewhere under the layers of showmanship is a normal man, craving love and connection, just like everybody else does.

Setlist 3/6/13:
Shoplifters of the World Unite (The Smiths)
Alma Matters
Everyday is Like Sunday
Irish Blood English Heart
Live Life Happy
I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris
Action is my Middle Name
That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore
Ouija Board, Ouija Board
November Spawned a Monster
Still Ill (The Smiths)
People Are The Same Everywhere
Meat is Murder (The Smiths)
Please, Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths)
You Have Killed Me
Let Me Kiss You
How Soon is Now (The Smiths)
— — —
Encore: The Boy With the Thorn in His Side

(Setlist compiled by Matthew Holt)

Photo Gallery by Victoria Holt