Gig review: Morrissey at First Direct Arena, Leeds

“Don’t get too upset when you read the reviews for tonight,” Morrissey told the audience midway through the opening night of his four-date European tour.

Tuesday, 10th March 2020, 6:19 pm

“Because you know they have to be bad. You know they have to be snotty and snooty. That’s the way of the world. They’ve already been written. Don’t worry. Leave it with me.”

Say what you like about Steven Patrick Morrissey, and many have during his long and chequered career, but the man and his music still intrigues.

True, Morrissey’s various musings on politics and social issues, including expressing support for far-right groups, has tainted his image somewhat in recent years.

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Where he would once fill venues such as the First Direct Arena in Leeds, his appeal has apparently lessened with the crowd far from capacity.

Still, Morrissey being Morrissey, he commands a loyal fanbase who will flock far and wide to see him play and this was a strong enough performance from the Mancunian legend, now 60.

During the gig, Morrissey gave live debuts to new songs Jim Jim Falls, Once I Saw the River Clean and recent single Love Is on Its Way Out, all taken from his upcoming solo album I Am Not A Dog On A Chain, due out on March 20.

He kicks off with an Elvis Presley cover You’ll Be Gone before his first address to the crowd.

“So you’re still alive?” asks Morrissey.

Then came The Smiths’ classic The Boy With The Thorn In His Side before new track Jim Jim Falls which prompts Morrissey to again address his adoring fans.

“So you know, you know I’m very ambitious,” he says mischievously.

“So I have the nerve to threaten the universe and threaten anybody and thereby I release a new album soon called I Am Not A Dog On A Chain. This is the first track.”

Covers of Morning Starship and Lady Willpower follow before Morrissey also gave a rendition of Munich Air Disaster 1958, accompanied by a montage of the Manchester United team managed by Sir Matt Busby, midway through his set.

That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore, another Smiths classic, is aired and a cover of Back On The Chain Gang by The Pretenders and the two other new debut tracks go down well.

Irish Blood, English Heart is a fitting end to a performance from an artist who, despite everything, remains iconic.