Morrissey, the Killers, 7/17/04, House of Blues, Chicago

Sun. July 25, 2004 12:00 AM
by Eric Roldan

This past spring, Morrissey released his first studio album in seven years. The first song on the album explicitly criticized America and its greed, however his only summer date in the U.S. was sponsored by American Express, and you could only buy tickets with an Amex card. Apparently, Morrissey was continuing his tradition of confusing his fan base, as contradiction and ambiguity has been a staple of his since day one.

Morrissey, You Are the Quarry is an album that has every element a Morrissey fan expects-biting sarcasm, self deprecating comments and evocative themes. Only on his recent albums have allusions to his homosexuality have come to the fore, and I believe he is letting his newer songs answer many questions that he has refused to explain in interviews.

After being outside of the industry for so long, his return to the stage found him in top form: it was a spectacle that only fans could appreciate. A talkative Mozzer engaged the audience in between songs, mentioning how his album hadn’t charted as well here as in the U.K., how he thought George Bush had brought more shame unto this country than any other president before, and also paid respect to his friend from the New York Dolls who just recently passed away. And the audience was hanging on his every word.

Morrissey is a polarizing artist—mostly, either you love him or you hate him. His style has culminated in a catalogue that shows a love for singing above else. His lyrics show a deep understanding of disappointment, and his fans crave it. If there is a concert full of people watching his every twitch, you can smell the love. And he loved us back. He treated his fans to a career spanning set: he’s made peace with a select few Smiths songs including “There is a light that never goes out,” his solo career selections received loud screams with canonized singles such as “Everyday is like Sunday,” and he also played some b-sides and newer obscurities like “Don’t make fun of daddy’s voice.” Mostly, Morrissey showcased his new album and his tight backing band. He whipped his microphone cable around, smacked and caressed himself the way a tortured brit can and gave frequent and coveted hand shakes to the suffocating few in the front rows. The sound at such an intimate venue allowed every drop of his still creamy voice to be heard. When he finally ripped off his shirt on the last bar of the single song encore, Quarry’s first single “Irish blood, English Heart,” the crowd seethed and those fighting for the sweaty garment ripped it to shreds.

The Killers are a new band from Las Vegas, and their Bowie inspired opening set was a good match. It provided some tension when, during their third song, the singer’s vocal monitor caught on fire. It was a moment that had people recalling the E2 tragedy and we were horrified at the idea of the show being canceled just for a stupid fire. I mean this is Morrissey . How fitting was it that a room full of Moz fans was simultaneously overwhelmed by the possibility of disappointment, only to be comforted all night by the sweet sounds of their favorite crooner?