"Why is the last mile the hardest mile?"
There are a vast number of Morrissey lyrics which I could summon and apply to the final of his five recent shows at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, and that's always been a large part of the genius of the man. Like his hero Oscar Wilde, Morrissey has quite a knack for combining truth and humor in ways that resonate in the mind of the listener and remain eminently quotable for years. For years, for a lifetime, and perhaps even longer.
For the fifth night in a week I made my way to the dreaded "Frankenstein Ballroom" (as Morrissey has come to call it) for one final Morrissey concert. I was tired, exhausted even, from weeks of work and travel followed by CMJ and this series of concerts. The world's smallest violin playing just for me, I get it, but it's important to note my state of mind. And, in a word, I was tired. Yet so excited. I even got to the venue early enough to catch the entire set from the opening band for once.
Girl In A Coma took the stage around 8:00pm and had a mountain to climb before they played a single note. Even with the obviously Smiths-friendly name, I doubted this band. No, I hadn't even heard them play a song yet, but I already hated them. I was grumpy, distrustful of Morrissey's taste for openers, and ready to get on with seeing the headliner. It was fairly obvious that I wasn't the only one who felt this way either, which created just about the worst environment a band could possibly walk in to, but Nina, Jenn, and Phanie took the stage with confidence and wasted no time in laying it all on the line. Ultimately, Girl In A Coma isn't a band ready for a stage as large as Hammerstein, but they still blasted through their set (the song "Clumsy Sky" was a particular favorite) with equal parts energy, pop hooks, and guitar power. At times I felt some Siouxsie in the vocals, some Doug Martsch in the guitar work, and an overall Joan Jett/Yeah Yeah Yeahs kind of vibe from the band. By no means were they the "ideal" opener for Morrissey, but they also weren't nearly as bad as some might say.
After Girl In A Coma it was movie time again - same as the first four nights. As the clips of "Ou Ca, Ou Ca" and "Bubble Gum" and The Untouchables played, I considered the previous four concerts and some of my favorite moments from each. Hearing "The Loop" and "Death Of A Disco Dancer" the first night, "Disappointed" and the stage invaders the second, "Ganglord" (for me, the single greatest vocal performance I've heard from Morrissey) and "Life is a Pigsty" on the third, and pretty much everything about the fourth night. Not to mention that I found myself loving, and looking forward to, his newest compositions each and every show. I was even starting to get to know the words to these newest songs, but then again I was starting to get to know everything about this Morrissey @ Hammerstein routine. I even found myself happily singing along to the post-show cool down song "That's Life" each night. But, by the end of Saturday's show, my voice was fading fast from cheering and singing along. Bizarrely, Morrissey's voice seemed to be getting better and better as the shows went on. Until, that is, the show last night.
Once again the band opened with the rocking "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" / "Billy Budd" combo. By the end of the second song, it was apparent that Morrissey's voice was feeling the strain of the current tour (and 5 show NYC run), and the delayed enthusiasm when he launched into "Interesting Drug" (a song not yet played during the NY stint) reflected that the audience might've been feeling the same manner of fatigue. Perhaps this is just me thinking that everyone else was in the same "5th show in-a-row" boat, but it was apparent that Morrissey also sensed weariness from the crowd. Still, he remained true to the performance, often smiling and/or humorously wincing when his voice cracked under the pressure of a third show in as many days at the tail end of a rather extensive tour.
None of that is to say that Sunday night's concert was a bad show by any means. No, this was another stellar performance from Morrissey and crew. I'd give it an 8.5/10, placing it right alongside the other nights as one of my favorite concerts of the year, and making my personal "best show of the series" Saturday night's show. However, with the inclusion of "Interesting Drug" and "Good Looking Man About Town", as well as the return of all-denim suits for everyone in the band (my favorite of the week's Morrissey outfits) and more than a very good helping of stage invaders, the concert Sunday night rose above any level of exhaustion potentially lingering about the ballroom and perfectly capped off a week of Morrissey (including thirty four different songs played for NYC - see below) that will resonate in the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to attend for years to come.
Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before
Shoplifters Of The World Unite
Irish Blood, English Heart
I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
Girlfriend In A Coma
The Last Of The Famous International Playboys
I Like You
Jack The Ripper
Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself?
Stretch Out And Wait
The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores
Good Looking Man About Town
Sister, I'm A Poet
Death Of A Disco Dancer
I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris
You Have Killed Me
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want
How Soon Is Now?
First Of The Gang To Die
Alphabetical 5 show NYC song list:
All You Need Is Me / Billy Budd / Dear God, Please Help Me / Death Of A Disco Dancer / Disappointed / First Of The Gang To Die / Ganglord / Girlfriend In A Coma / Good Looking Man About Town / How Soon Is Now? / Human Being / I Just Want To See The Boy Happy / I Like You / I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris / Interesting Drug / Irish Blood, English Heart / Jack The Ripper / Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me / Life Is A Pigsty / One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell / Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want / Shoplifters Of The World Unite / Sister, I'm A Poet / Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before / Stretch Out And Wait / That's How People Grow Up / The Boy With The Thorn In His Side / The Last Of The Famous International Playboys / The Loop / The National Front Disco / The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores / Tomorrow / Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself? / You Have Killed Me
"Ganglord" by Morrissey
"Clumsy Sky" by Girl in a Coma
"Interesting Drug" (live from this show)
"Sister I'm A Poet" (live from this show)
- Morrissey @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 27 October 2007
- Morrissey @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 26 October 2007
- EF's "Moon River" 8+ post
- Morrissey @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 23 October 2007
- Morrissey @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 22 October 2007
- EF's "Southpaw" 8+ post