MORRISSEY’S SOLO career could be characterised as a three act play, with a dramatic opening, a sagging middle section, and a triumphant - and still ongoing - third act.
Act I began with the disbandment of The Smiths, and Mozzer, against expectations, finding himself a solo artist with 1988’s Viva Hate, which paved the way for a series of artistic and commercial successes. Come the late 1990s, however and Act II introduced the wilderness years, heralded by 1997’s Maladjustment and Morrissey seeming to retreat from public view.
Such a larger than life figure though could never be away for too long and Act III opened in dramatic fashion in 2004 with the stirling return to form of You Are The Quarry, introducing a quality run which continues unabated as witnessed by this year’s magnificent World Peace Is None Of Your Business.
The Introducing Morrissey DVD (Parlophone ) captures the artist in his other great medium, the live concert (his 2009 Leisureland concert is still one of the best shows I have ever seen ), and was filmed over two nights at Sheffield’s City Hall and Blackpool’s Winter Gardens in February 1995.
The concert captures Moz at the peak of his (Act I ) powers and the material leans heavily on the then recent Your Arsenal (1992 ) and Vauxhall & I (1994 ) albums. Picks are a brooding ‘We’ll Let You Know’, an exuberant ‘National Front Disco’, and a grandstanding ‘Hold Onto Your Friends’. There is also a slightly ropey, but charming, take on ‘Moon River’, while the little-known ‘Jack The Ripper’ almost steals the show with its dramatic guitar work.
The cinematography is initially rough and can seem a little bootleg in places, but improves dramatically soon after. Importantly though, Introducing Morrissey, communicates a sense of ‘what it was like to be there’ excitement and the sweat’n’shove of both band and audience.
Fascinating is the constant stream of (mostly male ) fans rushing the stage to hug and kiss Morrissey, who takes the at times, over-excitement, with good grace and humour. This aspect of Moz-mania forms a coda to Introducing Morrissey, where further scenes of fans trying to kiss/pay homage to the man are set to ‘Will Never Marry’. It could be self-indulgent, but instead emerges as a genuinely moving and poignant testament to what Morrissey means and why he matters to so many.
Also worth noting is the film’s opening sequence where a bovver booted skinhead walks around various symbolic locations in urban England, which serve as a treasure trove of ‘spot the Morrissey’ references!