Morrissey, at the Paramount Theatre on Thursday night, scored with fine vocals on covers but missed the mark badly with a comment linking the New York City “animal” terrorist with animal rights.
If you ever wondered what Morrissey first thought of Seattle when he visited in the ’80s, he told us at his Paramount concert Thursday.
“I was a small little skinny thing, as I am now,” he joked of that ’80s-era visit with his legendary band The Smiths. The crowd laughed at his self-deprecation, but in truth the vegan singer looked and sounded great at 58.
Seattle, to Morrissey, was all “record stores and bookshops.” You might think there was more to it, he said, but, alas, there was not.
Thursday, Nov. 2, The Paramount Theatre
That trip was “pleasant” for the notoriously cranky Morrissey, which may be why he always seems upbeat here, as he was Thursday.
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His 90-minute set sampled from Smiths gems, solo hits and a few covers. It was classic Morrissey, which means you heard dreamy vocals when he sang, and cattiness when he spoke.
“You sound very lusty,” he said. “Let’s see where that takes us.” This is typical, but perhaps in poor taste.
Worse was when he talked about what he called “the shooting in New York” (actually it was a truck attack, not a shooting, that killed eight people). He cited President Donald Trump’s comment that the attacker was an “animal,” and linked that with the idea that eating animals is murder, playing “Meat is Murder.” It was a remarkable overreach, and if anything hurt his cause more than helped it.
His musical taste was more on the mark. He began with a cover of the Elvis Presley hit “You’ll be Gone.” With the top three buttons of his shirt open, Morrissey became Elvis for a moment.
“Every Day is Like Sunday” was particularly sweet, ending the set. Only a handful of Smiths songs were played, but by including “I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish,” which he’d done only once before in concert, the die-hards had something to savor.
As for the rest, the concert’s high point was “Back on the Chain Gang.” Few singers ever cover this song so identified with the Pretenders, but Morrissey’s ego, and his friendship with Chrissie Hynde, gave him license. His dedication to Hynde (“for Chrissie from Akron”) was the most moving thing he said onstage.
And his gorgeous vocals on the song, sung perfectly, were lovely. It was the prettiest, and the least controversial, thing that came out of his mouth all night.