From police brutality, to animal cruelty, U.S. presidential politics and gay marriage, Morrissey and New York punk queen Debbie Harry turned their historic appearance together at Madison Square Garden into a celebratory rocked-out rally.
A heady buzz from the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage in America the day before hung over the massive arena Saturday night.
“Good times for a change,” the former Smiths frontman said to cheers. (The line, asfans know,is from the longing song, “Please, please, please, let me get what I want.”)
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“We're very happy to be here to celebrate the freedom of choice,” Harry said as she and her band, Blondie kicked off the night in a 45-minute set of their catalog’s best, including “Heart of Glass.”
Here are some other ways Morrissey's politics were in full effect:
On U.S. elections: Morrissey has previously said he expects Hillary Clinton to be America’s next president. On Saturday, he said:"The U.S. elections are all very well and amusing, of course, but there’s only two possible American presidents in my world: One is Jon Stewart and the other is Bill Maher. Otherwise, forget it."
On U.K. royalty: The British-born singer despises the monarchy and opened his set with “The Queen is Dead.” On the backdrop was an image of Queen Elizabeth flipping the bird.
On animal cruelty: A vegetarian, animal activist and PETA strongman, he now demands that anywhere he plays, meat is not to be served. The Garden obliged. There wasn’t a burger or hot dog to be seen. Morrissey’s performance of his signature, “Meat is Murder,” complete with video of the butchering of animals, was over the top and sent some fans running for the doors.|
(***UPDATE: Gothamist has uncovered that meat was served in private, corporate luxury boxes in the Lexus Madison Suite level. An MSG spokesperson issued this apology:“We changed the menu in the public areas for the show on Saturday night and didn’t make the same changes in the private areas. This was an oversight and will be fixed the next time.”)
On police abuse and brutality: The high-profile cases of police abuse in America have infuriated the singer, who months ago accused President Obama of showing a lack of leadership on the issue, especially in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. He did a stinging performance of “Ganglord,” written years before the horrors of the past year.
The police are kicking their way into my house
And haunting me, taunting me
Wanting me to break their laws
"To protect and to serve"
But what they really mean to say is:
"Get back to the ghetto"
The ghetto.Get yourself back to the ghetto
The show was also a personal victory for Morrissey, whose voice and body -- he removed his shirt at its end -- seemed strong and healthy.His voice, in fact, was the best it’s been in a long, long time.
A year ago this month, New York fans were truly disappointed when their hero canceled a sold-out show at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center.
He would later say he was battling a cancer-like condition called Barrett’s oesophagus -- and recently revealed how bad things were, including bleeding ulcers.
He told Alternative Nation: “The last visit to Peru gave me food poisoning and I officially died for nine minutes. That was fun.”
“They have scraped cancerous tissues four times already, but whatever,” Morrissey told El Mundo, according to The Guardian.
“If I die, then I die. And if I don’t, then I don’t. Right now I feel good,” he said.
He even acknowledged the whispers that he had appeared gaunt in sickly.
“I am aware that in some of my recent photos I look somewhat unhealthy, but that’s what illness can do. I’m not going to worry about that, I’ll rest when I’m dead .”
It was not without a smile on our faces when Morrissey launched into The Smiths’ “What She Said” and delivered one of his classic lyrics:
What she said:
"I smoke 'cos I'm hoping for an early death"
And i need to cling to something
The same Morrissey, who for years claimed to be celibate, has also recently written a new ditty called “Kiss Me a Lot.”
Your mammy's backyard
I don't care when or where
I just care that you're there
And that you will ...
Kiss me a lot, kiss me a lot
Kiss me all over my face
Strangely optimistic for a man was once simplistically derided as the “pope of mope.” But, as the singer noted Saturday night: “Good times for a time.”
John A. Oswald is editor-at-large for www.metro.us. Follow him on Twitter@nyc_oz.
"Hooray hooray/the bullfighter dies" pic.twitter.com/91BCldMFzN— Ben Yakas (@yenbakas) June 28, 2015