Morrissey interrupts

Morrissey, Bank of America Pavilion, June 26, 2007
By JAMES PARKER  |  July 2, 2007
A FROGGY NIGHT: For a few moments, a full-blown Moz riot seemed possible.

Slideshow: Morrissey at Bank of America Pavilion, June 16, 2007
Downtown was heat-dizzy; the moon looked swollen; saucy breezes loitered in the harbor. Morrissey was playing his first Boston show in three years, and erotic revelation was at hand. But it was coitus interruptus a week ago Tuesday at Bank of America Pavilion — a mere 35 minutes of rapture. Having diagnosed himself with a case of “Letterman Throat” — “I was on David Letterman last night, and he keeps his studio at 30 degrees below freezing. Twenty-nine I could understand, but 30?” — the great valetudinarian appeared to be soldiering through. But after a froggy rendition of “Let Me Kiss You,” he suddenly and wordlessly withdrew. His band stood around for a bit, and an announcement was made: “Morrissey has lost his voice . . . ” At that point, the situation detumesced with awful rapidity. The house lights went up, roadies tramped across the stage and Sinatra’s “That’s Life” issued mockingly from the PA. Whistles and catcalls from 5000 unfulfilled Morrissey fans: “Bullshit! Bullshit!” Sweatiness, congested vibes. No one was leaving. A guy in a Pet Shop Boys T-shirt looked quizzically at his plastic chair: should he throw it at someone? For a moment, the specter of a full-blown Moz riot danced before us like a heat shimmer. Hang the DJ! Shoplifters of the world unite and take over!

The moment passed. Another announcement was made, and the fans — assured that their tickets would be honored at a rescheduled show — trooped home. Now the mood was philosophical: if you discounted parking-lot extortion and ripoff beer prices, the experience was sort of a freebie. We’d had a portion of Morrissey. We’d seen him hit the stage to the petulant war dance of “The Queen Is Dead,” all spite and breastplate, with his mike cord pluming and coiling behind him. We’d been introduced to his musicians — Loz, Boz, Noz, Foz, and Scroz, kitted out in mauve shirts and tan vests like KC and the Sunshine Band — and heard shout-outs to Anne Sexton (“She died for you. And me . . . ”). And then we’d heard his voice change and deepen, till he sounded like Joan Armatrading. Was Moz right to quit us when he did? Of course he was. His yodels, groans, and whimsical vocal curvatures lead and direct the music like a maestro’s baton — without it, those three guitars are mere noise, and the drums a hollow stomp. He is the elder statesman of longing, and utterance is everything. Would you ask Yo-Yo Ma to play with a broken cello?

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