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28 October 2014
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Morrissey (C) Malcolm Bassett-Smith
Morrissey (C) Malcolm Bassett-Smith

Standing in the ring with the tormentor

By Martyn Strong
He needs no introduction, he is simply Morrissey. Returning to the Hexagon after more than 20 years, was it worth the wait? Read the review and see the photos.


SET LIST

First Of The Gang To Die
Still Ill
The Youngest Was The Most Loved
In The Future When All's Well
To Me You Are A Work Of Art
Girlfriend In A Coma
You Have Killed Me
I Will See You In Far-off Places
At Last I Am Born
The Father Who Must Be Killed
Ganglord
Let Me Kiss You
Life Is A Pigsty
Trouble Loves Me
I Just Want To See The Boy Happy
How Soon Is Now?
Irish Blood, English Heart

Fittingly, Reading's town centre is damp with a torrential downpour as it hosts one of the most influential members of indie-rock's royalty.

"This gig tonight feels like the return of a messiah."

There is an electric air of expectancy as the crowd, made up mainly of 30-somethings (perhaps due to the whopping £35 per ticket?), chant Morrissey's name as though he were a football player.

As the lights go down and the opening music crescendos, the crowd collectively draws breath as the band comes out.  Not too sure about the band's bright red playboy T-shirts – it makes them look a little like Four Poofs And A Piano (Jonathan Ross's house band). But ultimately we're not here to 'Trinny and Susannah' anyone, especially not when the opening guitar chimes of First Of The Gang To Die are played. The crowd roar themselves hoarse as the Mozfather walks on – but that goes without saying.

For the next hour-and-a-half the Ringleader of the Tormentors delights, amuses, entangles and draws us in to the world of Morrissey. The be-quiffed one doesn't say much but what he does say you have to listen to.  He's certainly in a better mood than when he last was in Reading, for the festival, where he moaned about getting a speeding ticket in the suburb of Caversham.  Tonight he is once again the charismatic person who once treaded the boards of the Hexagon back in 1985 as a skinny-hipped morose youth fronting The Smiths.

Click on the link to see the seven-image gallery:
PHOTOS: Morrissey >

This gig tonight feels like the return of a messiah, and although Reading isn't Salford, it feels somehow like a homecoming gig. The crowd reach out to touch their indie Mecca, with Morrissey willingly obliging, shaking hands, and waving at a crowd who pine for the songs that inspired and excited a teenage boy in the 80s, not just songs from the last two albums. 

With a quip about the bosom of his past, Morrissey grants fans their wish. Girlfriend In A Coma and How Soon Is Now and Ask Me Why may only be three classic tracks among a set-list designed to sell his latest albums, but it's enough to sustain the nostalgia.

As the house lights fade up at the end of Irish Blood English Heart, it signals a regrettable end to a show by one of the true members of indie-rock aristocracy.

last updated: 18/05/06
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