Morrissey: Mr. No-Show

The singer in what passes for happier times

The singer in what passes for happier times

You’ll never guess where The Monk was last night. But it’s a bit easier to guess where he wasn’t if you bothered to read the headline today. I was definitely not at the Orange Peel seeing Morrissey’s show, because the scamp bailed… again! That makes 0/3 attempts since 2009 for the erstwhile Smiths singer to grace Asheville with his presence at The Orange Peel. My question is… who in their right mind would ever try to book La Mozza ever again?!! He is now more notorious for his constant serial bailing on shows than for his songwriting. It’s as if he’s trying to make Sly Stone look dependable after all of those years. Good thing I was never a fan!

From what I’ve read though, breach of contract is a fairly effective career killer for entertainers who persist in playing the no-show game with any regularity. Books I’ve read on the lives of musicians drill this point home and one can only surmise that Mr. Morrissey has himself some extremely sweet contracts drawn up that perhaps enable him to laugh all the way to the bank. Why promoters let him get away with this repeatedly is a question that won’t be answered any time soon.

I was non-plussed when word got out of a March 9, 2009 appearance at The Orange Peel. Of course, it sold out in due course only to have the astringent crooner cancel the show due to “illness.” The frequency with which the delicate flower gets ill is scant endorsement for the singer’s notorious vegetarian lifestyle. But even his vegetarianism was used as a crutch to ditch shows. Perhaps one of his most legendary actions was walking offstage at Coachella due to the “smell of meat cooking” by the vendors at the show. But it wasn’t just his Orange Peel show in 2009 that was stillborn. There were many, many more cancellations! If I were small-minded enough, I could probably start a Morrissey Cancellation blog!

Some people are a wee bit unwilling to cut the guy any slack. Others crossed the line into mockery. When another Morrissey show was announced for The Orange Peel last year for December 5th, I didn’t lose any sleep over the fact that one of my least favorite singers was coming into town to bedevil me. I was cocky enough to know that there was no way I’d ever run into the guy at any of my favorite vegetarian restaurants! The show sold out to the faithful anyway. I didn’t bat an eyelash when his entire US tour was cancelled due to “his mother’s illness” by October of last year… over six weeks in advance of his non-appearance. If I’d bet money that his concert would not have happened, the odds wouldn’t have gotten me change for a soda!

I was surprised to see the show rescheduled that time, for last night, but true-to-form, Morrissey cancelled the entire tour…again, this time citing hospitalization for a bleeding ulcer. If his ulcer is bleeding, I can only surmise that his fans have far worse stomach ailments by now, since the guy obviously has some serious issues that are preventing him from singing for money. Me? I’m all for anything that keeps him off of a stage!

I remember when I first heard about The Smiths after their “Hand In Glove” single came out on Rough Trade. Since they didn’t make videos then, I was spared ever hearing them for a year or so. By the time I heard them after Warners in the US made a clip against the band’s wished for “How Soon Is Now,” I was immediately repulsed by this singer who practiced the worst sort of… what I can only call caucasian melisma that I’ve ever heard!

If there’s anything I like less than excessive vibrato* in singers [I think few can get away with that trait] it’s melisma. Nine of ten who employ it absolutely disgust me, but Morrissey holds the record to annoying me with his tuneless adenoidal warbling throughout every second of music, as if he were deathly frightened that some listeners might begin to enjoy the contributions of the musicians instead of the star we all adore.

Fortunately, he doesn’t give us the chance. So no, I never liked The Smiths or especially Morrissey solo. The freaky thing is, though, that when I hear those Smiths tunes I couldn’t bear to listen to covered by anyone else, I can still delight in the undeniably impressive lyrical content and music. Once he went, solo, I noticed the magic went away, and solo Morrissey covers are almost as toxic as the real deal. I’m talking to you, Mr. David Bowie.

– 30 –

* See Belinda Carlisle after she got singing lessons which ruined her for good!

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9 Responses to Morrissey: Mr. No-Show

  1. Taffy says:

    It’s your blog, Monk, so you get to rip whoever you want. I’ll just say in a whisper – I love The Smiths, like solo Morrissey quite a bit, and despite his ornery curmudgeonly manner I have fairly worshipped the man for three decades. You didn’t need to know any of that, but I had to get it out. If he really does have a bleeding ulcer, I wish him all the best for a speedy recovery.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Taffy – I’m too much of a curmudgeon myself to relate to Morrissey. But you have to admit that in spite of years of antipathy for his singing, I fully recognize that the man had the goods as a songwriter. At least with The Smiths. And Morrissey’s fandom of many of my favorite acts [Bowie, Cramps, Sparks] also places him in the “uncomfortably like me” zone of cognitive dissonance. Some of my best friends luuuuuurve The Smiths, so let your Morrissey freak flag fly with impunity. I don’t run this blog like a tinpot dictatorship and welcome any passionate defense of even Morrissey. One day I’ll have to post on my least favorite vocalists and you can hear all about Roland Gift, Jimmy Somerville, Susanna Hoffs, and so many more!

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  2. I’m with Taffy. Sometimes a singer just rubs one the wrong way, and if so that band is usually forever damned to never impress again (except through covers where the irritating portion is thus removed). I enjoyed the Smiths, and Morrissey solo — indeed I think he’s done some of his best work outside the Smiths — but his woe is me Lord Byron persona doesn’t grate on me as it does you. Indeed, post-Rage in Eden I feel much the same way about Midge Ure as you do about Morrissey!

    Madonna still holds the title for Ms. No-Show if you include her unbelievably high track record for showing up several hours after the posted start time of her portion of the evening’s entertainment. When I travelled to Seattle recently to see Joe Jackson (which was a great evening!), the wife and I ran into a gaggle of hardcore Madonna fans, all dressed up in 80s finery right down to the fingerless gloves, SO excited to be going to her concert. Many hours later, we ran into them again on the return ferry and I decided to compliment their outfits and ask about the concert. They were practically in tears (of RAGE!!) as they told me that she never showed up until they were forced to leave in order to catch the last ferry home. (turned out later she’d shown up — FOUR HOURS LATE). I actually felt bad for them and shared our condolences, while pointing out that Joe had actually remarked on the fact that both Madonna and the First Lady were in town that night and how appreciative he was that people came to see him instead!

    As for Morrissey, the news that he actually has something to actually complain about for once in his life, even though I generally like him, amuses me no end. I guess we should expect some of his best work in the near future now that he has achieved an actual grievance.

    And for the record, Kirsty MacColl’s rendition of “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby” is the greatest cover song of all time IMO.

    Also, don’t you be dissin’ on Jimmy Sommerville, man! He has a voice that, when he is alarmed, only dogs can hear! Surely that is punishment enough! :)

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  3. zoo says:

    I CAN’T STAND Morrissey. As much as I respect Marr and the others (they did make some very good music, IMO), I finally realized that I just don’t relate to him, his polical views, or anything he has to say about anything. Oh, and the incessant whine that is his singing voice now just grates on me. I’m with you on this one, Monk.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Zoo – So I’m not the only one then? It’s hard to articulate exactly why, but I don’t like his personality either. But in the end it’s his singing that kills the deal for me. I don’t like his singing voice and then he has to salt the wound and fill every second of space with it.

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  4. Echorich says:

    I had the honor to see The Smiths first NYC show on New Year’s Eve so many years ago I can’t tell you the year. I went because it was an event and left finding a new band to get into. I didn’t get fully hooked until the US release of Hatful of Hollow and Meat Is Murder lps, but it was solidified by Queen Is Dead. I loved the first solo album and the use of Vini Reilly as a guitar foil to replace Marr – I thought that was brilliant, but I understand Reilly really hated every minute of it. I lost interest around the 4th solo album, but picked up again in 2004 with You Are The Quarry. I felt like Morrissey was finally singing about his life in a way I could understand and maybe giving a bit more or a real reflection of who he is in his lyrics. The track I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris from 2009′ Years Of Refusal is one of the best tracks of his entire career in my mind.

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  5. Tim says:

    I never got the whole Smith’s thing. The lyrics never really caught my ear and if that isn’t there than forget the rest (I do like a lot of Johnny Marr’s hired axe work, his solo albums not so much), I can take or leave Morrissey’s voice but the whole package is just sort of a whineathon. And then the fans……jeeezzzzzzzz.

    Another 80’s act….

    I. Just. Don’t. Get.

    P.S. Best thing to come out of the Mozzer thing is the Pet Shop Boys constantly taking shots at him. I hear Electronic’s glorious 80’s closer “Getting Away With It” is one giant pisstake on Morrissey. I don’t let that stop me from loving that song.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – You raise an interesting point. In some cases a band’s fans can cross the line and become a reason to not like a band! I was surprised to enjoy the Sandie Shaw 12″ of “Hand In Glove” and when Act covered “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” that really opened my eyes to the song in spite of the singer. I should mention that I have never heard the original!

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      • Echorich says:

        Sandi Shaw can do no wrong in my mind. For some reason my mom owned one of her mid 60’s albums with her reading of may Bacharach/David classics. Her version of Always Something There To Remind Me is just brilliant! It’s almost amphetamene driven! But in the 80’s she out did herself – first stealing (along with Mr. McKenzie’s Secret Life Of Arabia) B.E.F.’s Music Of Quality And Distinction with Anyone Who Had A Heart and then successfully making The Smiths, Lloyd Cole + The Commotions and Patti Smith her own!! Right, I’m off to listen to more…

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