A Musical Misfortune: Never Watch Your Favourite Artist Perform Live

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now…

They say that you should never meet your heroes. Well, it also turns out that you shouldn’t see them live. A few months ago, a friend and I went to what we thought would have been the best musical experience of our lives; seeing Morrissey live in Manchester.

From the age of about fifteen, I have been a HUGE fan of The Smiths. One evening, I was sat at home on the sofa, complaining about having nothing to do, when my Dad suggested that I start listening to some ‘proper music’ and he introduced me to The Smiths’ ‘The Queen is Dead’ album. Unsurprisingly, the first track of theirs that I ever listened to was ‘There is a Light that Never Goes Out’ – a song that will now always be one of my favourites.

To me, no other lyricist has ever captured how it really feels to be a moody, self-deprecating, and egotistical young person like Morrissey has. Lyrics like ‘I want to see people and I want to see life’ and references to a ‘coastal town that they forgot to close down’ are all the more relatable when you’re a teenager growing up in a small British seaside town, where you can’t find much else to do other than occupy yourself with tonnes of schoolwork and then get pissed on the weekends.

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Don’t get me wrong, I understand that many of the things that Morrissey mentions in his songs are trivial and he is hugely melodramatic, but he also has a marvellous way of complaining about the shit stuff in life in a witty, relatable way, that gets you to realise that the best way to cope with the crap in life is to laugh it off.

As you can probably tell by now, when me and my friend managed to finally get our hands on a pair of tickets to see Mozza, I was beyond excited. Not only was I buzzing to go and see him after about 4 years of playing his songs on repeat and annoying my mum and friends with my ‘really depressing, old-fashioned’ music, but the fact that he was playing in Manchester, in a venue just down the road from his old school – the school which inspired him to write ‘Headmaster Rituals’ – made the idea ten times more sentimental.

My Dad drove us to the concert and really hyped it up for us by reminding us of the time when he saw The Smiths live in the eighties, when they were first emerging as a band. He recalled how,

“People were so excited about them but I just didn’t get it at first. However, I bought their first album, which was amazing, and I then got into them like everyone else! A few weeks later, I had the suede head, 501’s and bomber jacket!”

Maybe we should blame him for getting our hopes up but the impression that Morrissey and his music made on my teenage father certainly did not have the same effect on my friend and I after we’d been to see him.

Firstly, what irritated us was the fact that the tickets were pretty expensive. Considering Morrissey has widely been recognised for his socialist principles, it seemed rich that he was open to ripping-off his fans. However, we chose to overlook this in the hope that the performance would make up for the heavy price we had to pay. We also let him off on the assumption that he probably doesn’t have control over the company that hosts the concert. However, this soon seemed incorrect when we arrived at the stadium and were told that the consumption of meat on the premises was prohibited. Jokes on him though, because there were still Wine Gums being served behind the bar which, needless to say, actually contain gelatine, ha.

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Also, the concert featured the well-known, ‘Meat is Murder’ single, containing a video compilation of animals being slaughtered in the background. Although I agree with the idea of using artistic methods to shape how people see things, this was rather extreme and most likely quite ineffective. Surely there are more important issues to draw an audience’s attention to than whether or not you eat meat, for instance the plight of starving children, civil violence or the emergence of Donald Trump, to name a few. To quote the man himself, the music that he constantly played said ‘nothing to me about my life’.

We were so disappointed by the gig that the friend who joined me (who also happens to be vegetarian) claimed that she’d ‘sooner eat a big mac’ than pay to see him live again. In all fairness, she was hacked off because he only played one song by The Smiths. Considering that it was a Morrissey solo concert, you could say that we weren’t in a place to complain. Nevertheless, it did seem rather ignorant of Morrissey when about 90% of the audience were sporting The Smiths memorabilia.

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Although the concert was by and large a huge let down, there is an irony in the fact that there is arguably no better musician who could have prepared us for the disappointment that we experienced than Morrissey himself. Also, there were some positives about the experience, like the fact that he took his shirt off at the end, exposing his toned and hairy torso to us all; an iconic Morrissey move.

Maybe my expectations were far too high and I should have known that Morrissey’s performances today aren’t going to be anything like those of the 1980s, especially when three other important people no longer play with him (sigh). Despite being one of the most irritating and unsatisfying musical performances I’ve ever seen – even worse than the time I went to see JLS live with my parents at 14 – I have to admit that it’s still difficult for me to hate the moody old git and I’ll probably never stop listening to his music. So, if you’re ever considering going to see your favourite artist/band play live, think twice before you do.

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