December 2, 2009
Better than: The last time Morrissey was scheduled to play the Paramount.
Check out our photos of the show here!
Fifteen minutes before Morrissey took the stage in Oakland last night, the lobby of the art-deco wonder that is the Paramount Theatre was packed with his notoriously obsessive fans. This was to be Morrissey's his first Bay Area show since releasing his ninth solo studio album, Years Of Refusal, but instead of crowding around the merch booth or picking up the paperwork laid out on the PETA table, most people were waiting in line to buy overpriced drinks. And while there were enough septum piercings to give the place a whiff of disaffection and daddy issues, the general feeling was a little too date-night-so-we-better-call-the-sitter. It was a scene far removed from the days when his fanbase bonded over Oscar Wilde, tofu, and wearing black on the outside because black is how they felt on the inside.
Unfortunately that feeling never really went away over the course of the 75-minute set, which was officially in support of his umpteenth reissued, repackaged, repackaged set, the B-sides collection Swords. (Fans will remember that the Years Of Refusal show in April was canceled due to "illness," though Moz was spotted that night at the DNA Lounge.)
After doling out front-row handshakes and asking the audience, "Are you ready?" Morrissey seemed prepared to give it his all. He made it through an emo-fied version of The Smiths' "This Charming Man" without collapsing, finished "Black Cloud" without getting hit with a beer, and later offered up solid versions of "Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself," "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris," and Smiths classics like "Ask," "Cemetery Gates," and "How Soon Is Now?"
It certainly wasn't a perfect set--Morrissey does himself no favors when he avoids terrific old solo singles like "Suedehead," "Interesting Drug," and "Tomorrow"--but the problem with the night seemed to mostly reside in the audience. Maybe it's because his fans have inevitably just gotten old, or perhaps it had to do with the $85.50 ticket price for the good seats. A good portion of the room was just too polite for one of pop music's finest entertainers, a man whose voice still sounds amazing, whether he's singing a song from this year or from his 20s. Not surprisingly, he was quoted in the zine True To You as saying, "The audience doesn't realize this but, I, in effect, come to see them, and my temperament depends on how they react and even how they look."The tide began to turn during the encore, "First of The Gang To Die," when Morrissey pulled a female fan onstage. The act prompted a bunch of dudes to storm the stage and demand hugs from the accommodating singer. But it proved to be too little too late, with the house lights going up after just the one song.