Morrissey And Patti Smith At Staples Center
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By Jamie Harvey
As I walked to my seat on the floor of Staples Center on the first day of March, I couldn't believe it. After many years of failed attempts to see Morrissey due to canceled shows, it was finally happening.
After an ad for PETA and classic footage of British rock band Small Faces and the like, the curtain dropped and Morrissey was introduced by actor Patrick Dempsey. Only in Los Angeles!
"Momma, I'm a singer!" Morrissey said on repeat as he took the mic. As the band launched into the Smiths' "Shoplifters Of The World Unite," I listened to the voice I have loved since I was a kid, in person for the first time. I also spent much of the 90 minutes watching the crowd, which was probably as close to Beatlemania-type enthusiasm as I've ever experienced in real life. An entire arena singing in unison is as scary-sounding as it is impressive. People with flowers and signs were dancing and crying. Security was running laps around the arena hauling out overly exuberant fans, including one who jumped onstage to hug Morrissey toward the end of the show.
"Thank you for keeping us sane," said one fan who was given the opportunity to speak into the mic. It's known that one of Morrissey's most-dedicated fan bases is the Latin community, and this was evidenced at the end as someone came onstage and addressed the fans in Spanish.
Morrissey intermingled the Smiths songs with his solo work throughout the set. The first highlight for me was "You Have Killed Me," which sounded much more rock and roll live. "Meat Is Murder" will go down as one of the most memorable concert experiences of my life. News broke in late February that Morrissey had asked Staples Center to refrain from selling meat for the night. Though the request didn't come to fruition, graphic footage shown during the concert was enough to turn my mostly vegan stomach. Mixed with the loud booms of the drums filling the room like gunshots, and the almost armylike swarm of security hauling people out, those six minutes of "Meat Is Murder" were near torturous.
I know that "How Soon Is Now?" is the cliché Smiths song that everyone knows, but I really wanted to hear it, and I had heard Morrissey doesn't always play it. This is one of those songs that, when I heard it as a kid (before the Internet), I had to know who was singing it. I was obsessed. So when the guitarist lit up at the front of the stage and performed those familiar opening chords, my inner 10-year-old self was stoked.
Morrissey had a sassier presence than I had even imagined, and this came to a crux when he took off his shirt and threw it into the crowd, causing mass chaos. As I sang along to "Everyday Is Like Sunday," I realized that silky voice singing those depressing lyrics had done its job.
Patti Smith and her band opened the evening as she serenaded us with tales of the environment, our ancestors and love. A particularly touching moment was when she dedicated "Because The Night," a song co-written with 2013 MusiCares Person of the Year and GRAMMY winner Bruce Springsteen, to her deceased husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, as the day marked their wedding anniversary.
"Shoplifters Of The World Unite" (the Smiths)
"Irish Blood, English Heart"
"You Have Killed Me"
"You're The One For Me, Fatty"
"Action Is My Middle Name"
"That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" (the Smiths)
"I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris"
"Meat Is Murder" (the Smiths)
"Ouija Board, Ouija Board"
"November Spawned A Monster"
"To Give (The Reason I Live)" (Frankie Valli cover)
"How Soon Is Now?" (the Smiths)
"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" (the Smiths)
"Everyday Is Like Sunday"
"Let Me Kiss You"
"First Of The Gang To Die"
"The Boy With The Thorn In His Side" (the Smiths)
To catch Morrissey in a city near you, click here.
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)