Pasadena Civic Auditorium
Pasadena, California, USA
February 3, 2007
Night: Three of Three
Morrissey's third night at the Pasadena Civic started out incredibly promisinglu. Maybe because there was a charge in the air that hadn't been there the previous two nights.
As I walked up the sideway to the auditorium sipping from my flask filled with mid-grade Irish whiskey, it was obviously evident that there was an element of excitement and desperation that hadn't been there the nights before. Maybe it was because it was the last night of Morrissey's three-night stand in Pasadena, or maybe it was because this was the last night of the Ringleaders Tour (if you believe the rumors, as I usually do).
Either way, this was the last night for those desperate souls to make it down into the pit and, if the stars were aligned (and the yellow-jacketed security guards were distracted enough while beating down some other desperate soul), then maybe, just maybe they could jump onstage in a fit of homoerotic adoration (because the stage invaders are always male, right?).
The two previous nights saw hoards of Morrissey wannabes, scensters and faux-greasers milling about the front steps and the lobby of the auditorium as if it were a parade for the severely attention starved. I mean, I saw that tall, scary-looking Mexican guy with the pug nose that always enters all those Morrissey look-a-like contests-- you know the guy. He must have lapped the lobby 25 times on Thursday night.
Tonight however, the lobby was relatively empty and just about everyone was either in their seat or rushing the over-populated orchestra pit, waiting through those pre-recorded clips of a leather-clad Vince Taylor doing the twist, Sacha Distel and Bridget Bardot flirting, a drag queen slurring her way through "The Twelve Days of Christmas," Jim Dean's uncomfortable muted wardrobe test and finally a New York Doll-era David Johansen, backstage smoking reefer which he's later told is Turkish tobacco. When Johansen faded to black, that was the cue: The lights go out, an irregular drumbeat kicks in and we're only seconds away from the band manning their instruments. Those of us that have been here all three nights know the routine.
And with that unmistakable noxious odor in the air that accompanies industrial-sized fog machines, Morrissey and his five backing musicians (tonight, clad in nondescript trousers and tight Triumph motorcycle school t-shirts) strode onstage and before anyone really could figure out what was happening, the synthetic sound bite from the opening chords of "How Soon is Now?" revved into gear and we were off.
But if there was ever a time to start a concert with a punchy, up-tempo song (like "Panic" as he did the two previous nights), it was tonight. As I mentioned earlier, this crowd was hungry and chomping at the bit for any scrap of encouragement from Morrissey to throw caution to the wind. Instead, the old man set the pace with his swampy blues-based standard.
The pace picked up soon after that with a faster-paced "You Have Killed Me" and the t-Rex inspired "In The Future When All's Well" which led into one of the night's peaks, "Disappointed," but it was a pretty even-keeled affair throughout the night.
No stage invaders. No charged political commentary. No insults hurled at security. The only real action came when he'd throw one of his sweat-soaked button-down shirts into the pit. And if you've ever seen that documentary from the '70s about piranhas-- specifically, that scene where scientists lower a cow's carcass into a piranha-infested tank-- that's exactly what it looked like every time Moz threw out each one of his four shirts. Fights for the shirts lasted two and three songs after they were flung to the unwashed masses and here's a news flash that won't shock anyone: The offending parties were-- we'll, you know who they were.
And sadly, that's it really. Aside from a few humorous comments about whom his pick to win the Super Bowl the following day ("The Denver Omelets"), the volleying of a blown up condom that made its way to the stage and a incredibly refreshing and funny dialog with longtime sycophant Julia Riley.
"Julia, what do you say about the booing [when we chat onstage]," Morrissey asked as he handed Ms. Riley the microphone.
"People can do what they want," she chirped. "I'm just here to support you." And with that, Morrissey held in a slight chuckle and she literally won me over. It wasn't the most prolific response in the world, but it showed the sort of general resilience that only the true martyr possess and the insane lament.
"Oh Julia," Morrissey responded. "They're just jealous, jealous, JEALOUS!"
That's the sort of night it was. Very loose, casual, nothing to prove or no one to win over and I guess that's where we are now in 2007. He's obviously nowhere near hanging it up, but they'll be no more thrashing about the stage, circa the good old days.
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Read Alarcon's wordy review on Night One and Night Two of Morrissey's three-night stand at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium here, equally wordy review of Ringleader of the Tormentors LP here, and while you're at it, please read our two earlier Ringleader concert reviews from last year's tour: Moz at the Alexandra Palace on May 1, 2006 and Moz at Wembley on December 8, 2006-- written by our handsome UK Editor, Kirk Lake.