Hollywood Palladium, October 1, 2007

By Jonah Flicker

On the first night of his self-described ten-night “residency” at the Palladium, Morrissey dispelled, once and for all, the notion that he’s the “sultan of mope-rock,” as the LA Times recently referred to him. Anyone who sees Moz perform live will realize that’s a bullshit title. The way he romances his microphone cord, the way he engages the crowd by letting them ask them him questions, the way he simultaneously embodies the roles of old-school showman and petulant rock star… this is joy, not misery. And what a way to shut down the regal and classy Palladium, due for some major refurbishing in the near future.

The adoring crowd surged forward like a spring tide as Morrissey took the stage. His backing band, all in matching green shirts, performed his catalogue with a surefire, rehearsed competence. The set consisted of a flurry of recognizable and well-loved tunes, mostly culled from the latter half of his solo career. It’s been rumored recently that Moz and his fellow ex-Smiths have been offered obscene amounts of cash to reunite, but it seems unnecessary when he busts out old faves like “Stop Me if You Think You’ve Heard This One Before,” “Stretch Out and Wait,” “London,” and the literally show-stopping “How Soon Is Now.” Granted, one can’t help but ponder Johnny Marr’s enormous musical contributions when listening to these tunes. But when Morrissey decides to lay it on thick during songs like “That’s How People Grow Up” or “Irish Blood, English Heart,” there’s no question that he does very well on his own, thank you. The latter of these two songs was performed during his brief encore, the entire band dressed in Chivas soccer uniforms. Morrissey still had on his dress shoes, of course.

Photos by Timothy Norris. Click here for many more from the show.

In a crowd full of fan boys and girls, there’s always a couple of rowdy kids, and the age-old tradition of hopping up on stage to give Morrissey a hug was allotted a no-tolerance policy by the over-zealous security. I saw several kids booted out the side doors into the night after jumping up on stage, but not a peep from the main attraction, who has been known to put a stop to the show when things get too rough. Maybe he was busy deciding what color shirt to wear next, as he went through several wardrobe changes, exposing his incredibly trim torso every now and then as he whipped off a shirt and threw it into the crowd. This caused its own problems, as minor fisticuffs seemed to break out over possession of the sweat-stained blouses. But all this couldn’t have mattered less. Morrissey is clearly enjoying his continued popularity and teen-idol status. Tonight’s show didn’t appear to be sold out, but it was crowded, and there’s still about two weeks left for people to catch the magic. Even for a fan such as myself, who’s largely ignored this living legend’s more recent output, a Morrissey concert still brims with incredible energy, emotion, preciousness, and flamboyance. I have no doubt that he’ll be able to keep it up all the way through his ten Hollywood nights.

-Jonah Flicker

Photos by Timothy Norris. Click here for many more from the show.