Review: Morrissey At Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium

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Every day is like Sunday, except when Morrissey is in town. Then it’s a cause for celebration. It had been far too long since the King of Mope Rock gazed upon his constituents.

After canceling his planned appearance at Nashville twice due to illness, the former Smiths frontman, newly minted author, and Oscar Wilde-esque solo artist finally planted his feet on the hallowed Ryman Auditorium stage.

Last night’s hour-and-a-half concert marked his first appearance in Nashville since 2004, and his fans — mostly middle aged men — were more than ready for him.

They crowded to the front, sang along to every word, and — during “First Of The Gang To Die” —  even hopped on stage to hug their idol, despite the looming threat of burly security guards crouched in football stances, waiting to tackle them and shove them back into the front row.

Instead of dripping with disdain, Morrissey showered his Southern fans with kindness – handing them the microphone a few times in what amounted to an open town meeting. After denouncing most politicians as being worthless, he pointed to the photos of Maya Angelou which adornd the stage’s backdrop. “Because she would have been killed before she ever got a chance,” someone shot back. Morrissey approved that message. Another fan, when given the mic, asked why the media was so hard on him. Morrissey demurred by handing the mic back to the person who’d spoke up previously. “Moving on.”

The List: The Top 25 Morrissey Songs

From the opening number, an energetic reading of The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” the 55-year old Morrissey and his band put on an impressive performance. The vocals were immaculate, the sound was loud and crisp, the lights were bright, and the band was on point — mixing brit rock bluster with occasional hints of Radiohead. Think of the stacked production on a vintage song like “Yes, I Am Blind,” which was offered flawlessly here, and you’ll get an idea of what this current band can pull off.

Greatest hits (including “Every Day Is Like Sunday”) were shunned in favor of cuts from his more recent back catalog. But each song carried its own weight, including three off his upcoming album World Peace Is None Of Your Business (the title track, “The Bullfighter Dies” and “Istanbul.”) The effect was like listening to a well-curated Morrissey album.

The one song I could have done without was “Meat Is Murder.” I wasn’t in the mood to watch the accompanying six-minute video about animal cruelty, even if it did get me to briefly regret my evil, non-vegetarian ways.

Opening for Morrissey was talented art rocker and frequent tour-mate Kristeen Young, who played songs from her new album The Knife Shift. That album features the drumming talents of admirer Dave Grohl.

Read our recent interview with Young here.