SSE Hydro, Glasgow


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MORRISSEY'S in town for his latest tour and the conventional approach - the reliable one - would have been to open the show with an old Smiths track or a stomper from his best two solo albums, Vauxhall and I and You are the Quarry. But Morrissey has never done as he's told so instead he enters from behind a huge blow-up picture of the recently departed actor Peter Wyngarde and sings a cover of an old forgotten Elvis track You'll Be Gone. That's the thing about Morrissey: he will not be the one you loved.

Which is the way it should be - the audience isn't 25 years old anymore so why would we expect Morrissey to be? He is older, but the voice is strong (lower but strong), and the anger is strong (and the despair), and, playing live, he still knows how to work a speaker and lash a microphone cable. Is Morrissey the only man who can come on stage and shyly swagger?

In the choice of songs for the tour, the great obsessions of Morrissey are probably more obvious than ever. Some of the tracks from the latest album, Low in High School, are played in front of huge video screens underlining their targets: police brutality, political brutality, and with The Bullfighter Dies, brutality to animals. Morrissey also did politics in one of his few spoken asides. He asked us whether any of us actually liked Nicola Sturgeon ("those hands would be in anybody's pockets"), which elicited a boo for the First Minister as loud as the drums.

And then there was Morrissey's other great obsession: his heart and ours. Most of Morrissey's songs are, one way or another, pangs and urges and appeals. Like the best song from the new album, Home is a Question Mark. And How Soon is Now? of course. That song has been lurking under our skin for 30 years and here it is again, released from somewhere deep. "Crash into my arms," he says.

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That's what Morrissey's music is about on this tour, and always has been: arms flung wide. He gets angry, he always has, but he is funny too and self-deprecating ("see the effects of sexual neglect"), and he points out that the exit is looming (why wouldn't we be obsessed with death when it is so close?). But look at him: still lashing out - because they deserve it - but pulling us close as well. This is what Morrissey was, is, and will no doubt always be about: the comfort of despair.