Musical Musings: Morrissey, KRISTEENYOUNG
First, the man himself was in good spirits and rare form, playfully spouting that "It's good to be back at the Palace" and gradually undressing from the moment he stepped on stage, to the point of sending his shirt (the first of three on the night) into the crowd. I hear this used to be standard procedure for Moz, but the fact that he still does it when he's pushing 50 is hilarious. His singing, meanwhile, was as unique and brilliant as ever. His muddled Mancunian drawl sounds both timid and powerful at once, both stodgy and working class, and it rang out clearly with some of the most clever lyrics in pop.
The fans returned the positivity. Throughout the show, eager devotees raced on stage to give Morrissey a hug; one chap even planted a kiss on his cheek. At one point, the whole stunt got a little ridiculous, with fans rushing in from all sides and security guards frantically trying to keep them away. The singer seemed unfazed by the crazed adoration, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Meanwhile, his band knocked the songs out of the park, starting with the Smiths' "The Queen is Dead" and carrying through the closing "How Soon Is Now?" Between, they rattled off a few more Smiths hits and plenty of solo Moz, though I must admit my Morrissey fandom is limited enough that I haven't spun his supposedly essential solo records (Bona Drag, Your Arsenal and the like). I did recognize some of his latter day numbers, such as "First of the Gang to Die," and even the material I didn't know came off beautifully, especially the epic rocker that preceded "How Soon Is Now?" Out of the players, uniformed in bowtie and slacks, the drummer stood out in particular, making the most of a standard kit, a gong and a timpani.
After a quick two-song encore, Morrissey and his band were gone for good, having played not too short, not too long and with nary an error. The only complaint I could conceive of would be that there's no way to fit everything you'd want to hear into a reasonably sized set. Oh well, there's always next time.
Openers KRISTEENYOUNG were a strange duo that resembled Bjork fronting the Dresden Dolls. Singer-keyboardist Young paraded about the stage with extreme theatricality, wearing one of the gaudier dresses you'll see. Backed ably by drummer "Baby Jeff," she put on an entertaining show, though the music went down much more smoothly when I diverted my eyes from the overblown spectacle. The songs themselves were raw and striking, though not quite enough to inspire me to pick up KRISTEENYOUNG's CD. My friend Sara felt differently—she loved 'em unabashedly—but she's a self-proclaimed theatre dork, so there you go.