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Re-Viewed: Morrissey at the Aragon

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 22, 2006 6:06PM

Last night was a completely different experience than the last time Chicagoist headed over to the Aragon for a Morrissey concert. The last time, the balcony wasn’t even open and only about one-fourth of the ballroom was full, but those of us there were singing, dancing and reveling in our love of songs about sad times, played expertly by a backing band of tightly clothed men. Fast forward to last night and a sold out Aragon with people packed in like sardines. People with no room to dance and a backing band dressed like Best Buy employees who couldn’t play our favorite tunes at the correct tempo. Morrissey was the consummate performer, as usual, and his vocals were exactly what we've come to know and expect.

2006_11_ringleader.jpgThe set covered Morrissey’s extensive career from The Smiths through his latest solo effort, The Ringleader of the Tormentors. The usual sing-a-longs were in force “Girlfriend in a Coma”, “Every Day Is Like Sunday”, and “How Soon is Now”. The crowd would get ahead of the band because of the considerably slower pace that the tunes were being played at. During “How Soon Is Now” the guitar riff, which is one of the more recognizable aspects of the song, was omitted until the very last verse where it got overshadowed by explosion sound effects. The strange tempos caught even Morrissey out of synch with the band and backing vocals on “Irish Blood, English Heart”.

Favorites of the night were the guitar as sitar sound in “I Will See You in Far Off Places” and the lilting Pretty In Pink-ness of “The National Front Disco”, which also happened to be the only song played at tempo and tightly by the backing band. The evening ended with a one song encore featuring “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want”.

We love seeing Morrissey whenever we can and would have been more accepting of the tempo problems and the backing band’s technical inability, if the concert hadn’t been sold as the ONLY show in North America by Morrissey this fall. We left feeling that all we had witnessed was the dress rehearsal for an upcoming tour with a backing band that wasn’t ready to go on the road.