Slightly greyer, but Morrissey still the most loved
Woe is Morrissey. He exudes the stuff like a tart aftershave, flavours ranging from gallows humour to death wish. But oh, the dignity. The swell in his chest, the upper lip as British as the flag draped about his waist. His fans can feel it. And they adore him for it.
If it's an act it's one that permeates every lyric and every gesture, and 30 years after he launched the bitter young romantic in the Smiths songs he still sings with such melodramatic despair.
The venomous accusations of Meat is Murder and Speedway; the gut-wrenching pathos of How Soon is Now? and The Youngest Was the Most Loved; the murderous rage of Sweet and Tender Hooli-gan and Irish Blood, English Heart flowed like he'd only paused to take breath, blowing away the decades in between. Consistency, when it comes to loathing and recrimination, is a virtue to hold onto for dear life.
Wildean wit is another one. "As I live and breathe you have killed me," dripped one line. "In my own sick way I'll always stay true to you". "Always be careful when you abuse the one you love". Nobody's zingers zing like Morrissey's.
The amply quiffed showman was sure enough of his twinkling, if slightly greying, charisma to rip the shirt from his own breast not once but twice, then toss it as a token to the fellow sufferers reaching from the floor. In turn, when he was moved to pass his microphone among them, they hailed his righteous vegetarianism and the gift of his sorrow. Seriously. The only thing wetter than Morrissey is a front-row Morrissey fan.
Only he has the voice though, still in booming control but for odd shrieks of high emotion, and his band was every bit as committed: a brash and crashing rock quintet with dramatically proportioned drums, led by long time lieutenant Boz Boorer on multiple guitars.
It's apt to mention that Boorer served despite having one arm in a sling. Clearly injured, but reaching through his misery for these transcendent moments of (strictly platonic) love and empathy. Heaven knows, we knew that feeling too.