Tag Archives: the smiths

CONCERT: MORRISSEY w/ The Courteeners (Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL 4/4/09)

Time number 5 for Morrissey and me. Paris, Austin, Omaha, Kansas City and now, having just released his new album Years Of Refusal, Chicago. Mandy and I made the pilgrimage to the historic Aragon Ballroom in downtown Chicago (the place with the tall stage), stopping only for gas, bladder relief and a great meal at The Chicago Diner. After waiting in line for a bit and being frisked, we managed to jockey for a position in the fourth row. There we waited, as the temperature rose with the increasing body heat. Then…lights off! Show!

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The openers were a band from Manchester, England called The Courteeners. I’d heard a bit about them before, but was basically unfamiliar with them until today. They put on a good show….it’s a thankless task to open for pretty much anybody, but when you’re opening for someone with such a fantically devoted audience as That Guy Who Used To Be In The Smiths Who Isn’t Johnny Marr, Andy Rourke or Mike Joyce, I’m sure it can be especially punishing. Having said that, they went over pretty well with the crowd. The Courteeners’ sound isn’t a million miles away from, say, The Libertines (in fact, I’d say it’s more like three houses down), but they do what they do well, and their single “Not Nineteen Forever” was a definite highlight for me. It made me want to hear more from them, so mission accomplished. After these lads exited the stage, videos were projected onto a large sheet that covered up all but the very front of the stage. This was done between sets during the 2007 shows as well, and most of the videos were the same as then (New York Dolls performances, etc.). Since then, he seems to have developed (or exposed) an interest in 60’s Dutch rock band  The Shocking Blue (perhaps best known on these shores for their song “Venus” and “Love Buzz”, which was covered by Nirvana and released as their first single), as three performances of theirs were included here. As the final video ended, the sheet fell to the floor, exposing a backdrop with the gentleman on it, “Refusal” emblazoned across his chest:

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And then Morrissey appeared.

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(But not, unfortunately, like this.)

The man emerged from the wings dressed to the nines in a dapper tux, with his band uniformly wearing black shirts and slacks with white ties featuring their leader’s face. “Good evening, Chicago“, said Morrissey in a “Da Bears voice as “This Charming Man” sprang to life. It was great to finally hear rthis song live; he had never played it since going solo until this year (I remember when my brother and I went to see Morrissey in Paris in 2004; between songs someone requested “This Charming Man”, to which Steven parroted in what can only be described as a “retard” voice “This Chauming Mahn, This Chauming Mahn). It lacked some of Johnny Marr’s more Johnny Marr-ish parts, but it was still delightful to hear the song that made me love The Smiths in-person.  “Something Is Squeezing My Skull” (a highlight of the new album and its next single) came next and saw Morrissey whipping his mic cord around as he is wont to do; it was quickly followed by Vauxhall & I‘s “Billy Budd” and Refusal‘s “Black Cloud”, before making way for that one song, “How Soon Is Now?”.

As the opening tremelo of “How Soon..?” was sounded, the crowd went predictably wild. There’s a reason that this song has been included in most of Morrissey’s setlists since 2004…for most people, this is his signature song, and the Smiths song most likely to be known to a non-Smiths fan. However, I would fine if he dropped it. Obviously, it’s a great song but I’ve seen it live at least four times. But much like I wish Oasis would give “Wonderwall” a rest at shows, I wouldn’t mind “How Soon” being relegated to the mothballs for a bit. Having said that, it was probably the best live version I’ve seen to date.

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Two tracks from Moz’s “comeback” album You Are The Quarry, “Irish Blood, English Heart” & “How Could Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?” came next and cleared the way for a spirited rendition of The Smiths’ “Ask” (which featured the lyrical change “If it’s not love/Then it’s military might/Then it’s macho military might that will bring us together”). Refusal‘s first single “I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” saw longtime Morrissey collaborator Boz Boorer show off his mean clarinet skills, and acted as a jangly prelude to the mid-tempo glam of “The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores” (strangely, four tracks from 2004’s Quarry were included the set, but none from 2006’s Ringleader Of The Tormentors). A languid bass intro signaled the beginning of “Death Of A Disco Dancer”, one of the highlights of The Smiths’ final album Strangeways Here We Come; its performance saw Morrissey stationary at the microphone, while the band worked up the song’s queasy groove. After finishing his vocal contribution Morrissey left the stage, allowing the musicians to jam out on the song’s outro in a way that Marr, Rourke & Joyce may have done had they ever performed it live. Definitely a concert highlight.

Morrissey reappeared, newly de-tuxed and dived into “The Loop”, a personal favorite and one of his most rockabilly numbers (upright bass and all). “Does anybody want to stare into an open grave?”, he asked as the band kicked into “I Keep Mine Hidden”, the final song to be written and recorded by The Smiths. I was really surprised when I saw this appear on setlists earlier this year, as I never thought it would get a live airing (like “Disco Dancer”, The Smiths didn’t survive long enough after recording it to consider playing it). In this instance I was quite happy to be wrong, as its jaunty arrangement translated well to the live arena.”One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell” followed, making way for another high point, a perfomance of “Seasick, Yet Still Docked” from 1992’s Your Arsenal. The stage was bathed in blue light as the song’s melancholy progression reverberated throughout the Aragon. Lovely ambient keys added pathos to this song, so often overlooked.

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The rocking continued post-haste thereafter, as “Best Friend On The Payroll” from 1995’s soon-to-be-reissued Southpaw Grammar thundered to life, acting as a bridge between the sorrowful “Seasick” and a wistful “Let Me Kiss You”, which concluded with the obilgatory take-off-shirt-and-throw-it-to-the-crowd bit. A trio of tracks from Years Of Refusal ended the main set (“When Last I Spoke To Carol” sounded great, in particular), and after the cursory stage exit and applause Moz & Co. came back on-stage and launched into “First Of The Gang To Die”, a performance that saw him dispense with most of the words in favor of various gutteral grunts and squawks. You are reminded when seeing him live how much of a weirdo Morrissey actually is. And with that the stage was vacated and the show was closed.

On the way back, I listened to The Ricky Gervais Guide To… and the new Depeche Mode album twice.

Overall, time no. 5 was quite good, but I am incredibly biased. I feel the setlist could use some work; when one has over 200 songs available, both with The Smiths and solo, should such greats as “Reel Around The Fountain”, “Suedehead” or “Glamorous Glue” be left on the sidelines while the likes of four songs from You Are The Quarry and “How Soon Is Now?” are allowed to run rampant? No, obviously, but that’s what comes with being a Morrissey fan. I really get the impression that he plays what he wants to play, and isn’t trying to cater to the audience (“How Soon?” excluded). I mean, he waited 21 years to play “This Charming Man”, one of his most beloved songs. The performance was a great, I just wish the set was a bit more varied. But that’s ok…as long as he’s playing live, I’ll still see him. It’s always a treat. Where will time no. 6 be? Will there be a time no. 6? Who knows these things? Lord knows I don’t. But until next time…keep watching the skies!

SETLIST

1.) THIS CHARMING MAN

2.) SOMETHING IS SQUEEZING MY SKULL

3.) BILLY BUDD

4.) BLACK CLOUD

5.) HOW SOON IS NOW?

6.) IRISH BLOOD, ENGLISH HEART

7.) HOW COULD ANYBODY POSSIBLY KNOW HOW I FEEL?

8.) ASK

9.) I’M THROWING MY ARMS AROUND PARIS

10.) THE WORLD IS FULL OF CRASHING BORES

11.) DEATH OF A DISCO DANCER

12.) THE LOOP

13.) I KEEP MINE HIDDEN

14.) ONE DAY GOODBYE WILL BE FAREWELL

15.) SEASICK, YET STILL DOCKED

16.) BEST FRIEND ON THE PAYROLL

17.) LET ME KISS YOU

18.) SORRY DOESN’T HELP

19.) WHEN LAST I SPOKE TO CAROL

20.) I’M OK BY MYSELF

ENCORE

21.) FIRST OF THE GANG TO DIE

VIDS:

STAGE ENTRY & THIS CHARMING MAN (SNIPPET)


BLACK CLOUD & HOW SOON IS NOW?


SEASICK, YET STILL DOCKED

WHEN LAST I SPOKE TO CAROL

DEATH OF A DISCO DANCER (CARNEGIE MUSIC HALL, 3/09)


I KEEP MINE HIDDEN (BBC CONCERT, 2009)

THIS CHARMING MAN (BBC CONCERT, 2009)

G.



CANON SONIQUE: a mixtape (16)

continuing the online mixtape.
[(1).(2).(3).(4).(5)]
[(6).(7).(8).(9).(10)]
[(11).(12).(13).(14).(15)]

song (16):

Morrissey“Certain People I Know”

this song is the 3rd single off of the 1992 album, “Your Arsenal”.
morrissey your arsenal album art

Morrissey. well… i think most people know who he is. he was in the smiths, ya know. and even reel big fish have covered his songs (here’s proof), so you know he must be at least as well known as ah-ha.

here’s a video. look how fucking ROCKABILLY these guys are. i usually HATE rockabilly guys, but i LOVE these babies. hey! nobody’s perfect.

scott

related posts:

CANON SONIQUE: a mixtape (1)

andy visser (of floodwater records fame) and i were supposed to trade mixtapes about SIX months ago. i’m sure he got his finished shortly after the pact, but i, on the other hand, still haven’t completed the project.

like so many other things i start, i’ve gotten right to the very end, but have yet to make the final leap over the finish line. so… in a pathetic attempt to continue my procrastination, but still complete the mix, i’m going to post all the tracks on this blog.

the only thing linking these tracks to one another, and allowing them to make sense with each other, is that they’re songs that i believe mr. visser might not have heard, but would enjoy.

oh yeah… it’s a double disk mix, and i forgot the track list, so… put ’em together however you like! (ugh. sorry.)

 

song (1):

The Smiths – “A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours”

buy the album Strangeways, Here We Come, and you can legally have this song.

this artist, the smiths, well… i’m sure everyone knows about them, so i won’t even bother writing one single little thing. they’re good. maybe greg will write some articles about them after he finishes his series about primal scream

and here is old morrissey performing this song LIVE in 2004:

 

scott

related posts:

PRIMER: SCREAM (Pt. 1)

This month Primal Scream releases their ninth studio album, entitled Beautiful Future. Like many of my favorite bands, most people in the U.S. don’t know about/care about/like them. So I thought that, in honor of Beautiful Future‘s release, I would take this time to write about Primal Scream and give brief summaries/reviews/whatevers of the albums they’ve made over the past 20-odd years. I’ll also highlight tracks from each that I consider to be superlative and/or representative of their parent album, in case you want to check out some samples. Plus pictures and videos and stuff. Ahem. Anyway, here’s Primal Scream: The Early Years….

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Primal Scream was formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1982 by friends Bobby Gillespie (in the background and to the right), and Jim Beattie. By the pair’s own admission, the band could barely be classified as such for its first few years of existence; most of the time was spent banging trashcans for percussion and making experimental tape loops in their bedrooms. Around 1984, Primal Scream had managed to become something more recognizable as a band with the addition of members including Andrew Innes and Robert “Throb” Young; concurrently, Bobby began to split his time between the Scream and another Scottish band: The Jesus & Mary Chain.

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Bobby played drums with the JAMC at their notorious peak, as their incendiary, feedback drenched live appearances in 1984-5 often ended in riots. Bobby’s rudimentary, Mo Tucker-inspired drumming also appeared on the band’s debut single “Upside Down” and their seminal 1985 debut album Psychocandy. That same year also saw the release of the first Primal Scream single, “All Fall Down”, which was released on Creation Records, a label set up by Bobby’s childhood friend Alan McGee.

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Apparently William & Jim Reid (the brothers who led the Mary Chain) saw these extracurricular activities as a threat to their band and gave Bobby an ultimatum: stay with them or stick with the Scream. He opted for the latter.

“All Fall Down” audio

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In 1986, Primal Scream released their second single, “Crystal Crescent”. The A-side was a great, horn-fueled piece of pop but it was the b-side, “Velocity Girl”, that would garner the most attention.

“Velocity Girl” audio

Just a mere 90-odd seconds of jangle-pop, the song was featured on a cassette compilation put together by NME called “C86“. This tape was the magazine’s attempt to create a scene using disparate bands from various independent labels that were presented as sharing stylistic and ideological traits.

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These supposed common elements included a jangly guitar sound a la The Byrds, Love or The Smiths and a gentle, “fey” style of singing. “Velocity Girl”, admittedly, possessed these qualities and that fact, along with the song serving as the compilation’s opener, led to Primal Scream being considered one of the guiding lights of the “movement”, something the band hated. Nevertheless, the small but enthusiastic buzz created by their perceived involvement in the C86 scene helped them cement a small but loyal following which laid the groundwork for the release of their first long-player, saddled with a ridiculously psychedelic name:

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1.) Gentle Tuesday
2.) Treasure Trip
3.) May The Sun Shine Bright For You
4.) Sonic Sister Love
5.) Silent Spring
6.) Imperial
7.) Love You
8.) Leaves
9.) Aftermath
10.) We Go Down Slowly Rising
Guests: Martin Duffy (keyboardist, Felt)
Primal Scream’s debut album was originally meant to be recorded with Smiths/Blur producer Stephen Smith; the band even laid down four weeks worth of material with him before deciding that the collaboration wasn’t working. In his place they hired Mayo Thompson, founder of Texas psych-rockers The Red Krayola. The resulting album deviates little from the sound established on the proceeding singles: a Byrdsian jangle is ever-present, with Jim Beattie providing arpeggio after arpeggio for Bobby to coo over in songs like “Gentle Tuesday” and “We Go Down Slowly Rising”.

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The use of pretty melodies to hide barbed lyrics is continued as well; one example being “Silent Spring”, a distillation of Rachel Carson‘s book about environmental catastrophe. In spite of the fact that SFG has never been a favorite of critics (Allmusic proclaimed it “pristine but dull”), I’ve always been a fan. I like chiming guitars (see: my Smiths obsession), and I would have loved to hear what Stephen Street might have done with the material; as for the finished product, I think Mayo Thompson did a pretty good job. The songs and style of this album (along with those of their American counterparts in the Paisley Underground) would also go on to influence contemporaries The Stone Roses, who would take the blueprint of SFG and refine it (and, according to Bobby himself, do it much better), as seen on their classic 1989 debut. Another reason this record is of note is that it’s the only Primal Scream album to feature Jim Beattie;as a result of both conflicts that arose during the recording of Sonic Flower Groove and the album’s lukewarm reception (both critically and commercially), Beattie left the band he’d co-founded to ply his jangly wares in Spirea X and later Adventures In Stereo.

VIDEOS

“Gentle Tuesday” video

“Silent Spring” live on some show, 1988

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PRIMAL SCREAM (1989)
1.) Ivy Ivy Ivy
2.) You’re Just Dead Skin To Me
3.) She Power
4.) You’re Just Too Dark To Care
5.) I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have
6.) Gimme Gimme Teenage Head
7.) Lone Star Girl
8.) Kill The King
9.) Sweet Pretty Thing
10.) Jesus Can’t Save Me
Guests: None
With his main musical collaborater gone, Bobby Gillespie took the opportunity to radically change the band’s sound and direction, something which he would continue to do with each subsequent Scream album. Now rotating around the troika of Gillespie, Andrew Innes and Robert Young, Primal Scream ditched the paisley shirts and C86isms of Sonic Flower Groove, replacing them with long hair and hard rock melodicism reminiscent of The MC5, Ramones and New York Dolls. The result was 1989’s Primal Scream, a record that managed to alienate their pre-existing fanbase while providing them no further headway towards breaking through to a wider audience. Self-produced by the band (under the pseudonym “Sister Anne”), it’s a bit of a strange album: lead single “Ivy Ivy Ivy” is a great Raw Power-esque hard pop number, and its template is followed for half the album.

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The other half is made up of dark, strung-out ballads like “You’re Just Dead Skin To Me” and “Kill The King”, which finds Bobby contemplating regicide over queasy backwards guitar. These two stylistic approaches are reconciled on the album’s centerpiece, a paean to a jilted lover called “I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have”. Primal Scream, like its predecessor, was all but ignored upon its release save for by their small but devoted fanbase, yet in “I’m Losing More…”, the band had unknowingly laid the seeds that would allow them to survive and thrive as the 80s gave way to the 90s, and the dour U.K. music scene learned how to get its groove back…

VIDEOS

“Ivy Ivy Ivy” video

“I’m Losing More Than I’ll Ever Have” live @ T In The Park, July ’08

Part 2 soon…

 

miloprometheus