Morrissey was tackled onstage by a fan, but his long-delayed show was a triumph anyway
"I'm a man, I can take it," Morrissey said on Saturday after being knocked to the ground by an overzealous fan during his show at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House. Looking a bit more grey than his last appearance in Denver seven years ago, Morrissey was genial if a bit sluggish this time around -- possibly due to the health problems that cancelled his last two visits to Colorado. Still, his congregation of pentecostal devotees (Mozicostals?) provided all the kinetic energy needed to keep the night from becoming just another crank of the Greatest Hits assembly line.
It's difficult to think of another rock icon whose aged as gracefully as Morrissey. David Bowie may have a better smile and Sting a better midsection (Morrissey bypassed the ritual of undressing and throwing his shirt into the audience this time), but in terms of contemporary relevance, what other musicians of his era are making music today that anyone is listening to?
Only three of the sixteen songs Morrissey sang in Denver were Smiths songs. The rest came from his solo career, and a majority of those were on albums from the last ten years. Can you imagine a U2 concert that primarily features material from 2004 onward?
Despite us being denied the Morrissey of 2007, who whipped his belt like a dominatrix on the stage to "The Queen Is Dead," we were still treated to a man whose voice has only grown strong and powerful with age, like the weathered mitts of an old farmhand. Tears were shed in the crowd; people swayed with eyes closed and arms raised. It was virtually interchangeable with a Billy Graham Crusade audience, only this messiah was before us in flesh and blood. "You're just like me," he sang while touching their hands during "Yes, I am Blind."
And speaking of flesh and blood, Morrissey's legendary ardor reached its zenith during his delivery of "Meat Is Murder." While it's been decades since he's worn gladiolus in his back pocket and years since he has disrobed on stage, Morrissey has continued the infamous tradition of projecting smuggled footage of factory farms and slaughter houses onto a screen behind him during "Meat is Murder."
"It's death for no reason, and death for no reason is muuuuuuuurder," he groaned atop an ominously psychedelic guitar, bathed in a dark crimson light as the images of convulsing heifers, boiled alive chickens, suffocating piglets and a baby calf's head being crushed by a farmer's sledgehammer fill the Ellie Caulkins stage. "Do you know how animals die? Kitchen aromas aren't very homely... it's sizzling blood and the unholy stench of MUUUUUUURDER."
The tackling unfolds on the next page.