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Morrissey: Who Put The 'M' in Manchester?
"Liverpool has John Lennon and Manchester has Morrissey ... it's amazing." - Unidentified female fan, Who Put The 'M' in Manchester?
Stephen Patrick Morrissey had a hell of a year in 2004. His comeback album (his first in seven years), "You Are The Quarry" met with fawning critical adoration and he toured the world to sold-out stadiums and screaming fans delighted to have their angst-ridden, melancholic maestro back from exile. It also helped that bands channeling The Smiths were fast becoming de rigeur on the charts.
Filmed on May 22, 2004 at Manchester's Evening News Arena, the birthday/homecoming show is packed with cuts from "Quarry" as well as liberally sprinkled with Smiths gems from the halcyon days of Morrissey and Marr. Cheekily opening with a faux British film censor's certificate, the film opens and closes with quick-cut montages of Mancunian life and places. In particular, the concert ends with an elated crowd filing out to the haunting strains of Frank Sinatra singing "My Way" (just as Morrissey opens the concert by crooning a few bars of it) and lingers as support staff clear the arena of litter. It lends a strange, mournful air to what is otherwise an electric, engaging performance by the mope rocker fallen from grace and restored to proper luster.
Against a blood-red sign spelling out his name, Morrissey spends 90 minutes captivating an audience, sweating profusely, changing his outfit a couple times (looking damn dapper in the process) and generally holding the entire arena hostage to his preening, outsized personality. It's a lot of fun to watch this admittedly aging performer prowl the stage and throw shout-outs to his hometown as the Moz faithful crush up closer to get near this icon of shoegazing morosity.
The tracklisting for the concert is as follows:
"First of the Gang to Die"
"Hairdresser on Fire"
"Irish Blood, English Heart"
"The Headmaster Ritual"
"Subway Train/Everyday Is Like Sunday"
"I Have Forgiven Jesus"
"I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday"
"How Can Anybody Possibly Know How I Feel?"
"Such A Little Thing Makes Such a Big Difference"
"Don't Make Fun of Daddy's Voice"
"The World Is Full of Crashing Bores"
"Let Me Kiss You"
"No One Can Hold a Candle To You"
"Jack The Ripper"
"A Rush and A Push And The Land Is Ours"
"I'm Not Sorry"
"Shoplifters of the World Unite"
"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out"
As slick and sharp as the nattily attired Mozzer himself, Who Put The 'M' in Manchester? looks crisp and clean in this mostly defect-free 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. A violent color palette that contrasts sharply with the vivid lighting is, for the most part, handled well - there are a few instances of smearing or crushing. Overall, a very nice looking picture.The Audio:
Offered in Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 stereo, the melancholy of "No One Can Hold a Candle To You" and "I'm Not Sorry" comes through loud and clear. DTS gets a slight edge in terms of warmth and spaciousness, but any of the available tracks sound great - you can even hear the crowd faintly singing along on some tracks.The Extras:
Kudos to Sanctuary Records for including some (if a bit bizarre) extras - five live performances ("First of the Gang To Die," "I Have Forgiven Jesus," "Everyday Is Like Sunday," "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" and "Irish Blood, English Heart") from 2004's Move Festival in Manchester, run an aggregate of 20 minutes and are presented in anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo. Also on board are four videos, all of which are presented in anamorphic widescreen and 2.0 stereo ("Irish Blood, English Heart," the UK version of "First of the Gang to Die," the US version of the same song - the only difference being that the UK version is strictly performance while the US version shows behind-the-scenes footage and "I Have Forgiven Jesus").
Where the "bizarre" description comes in is with the inclusion of the infamous PETA video, "Meet Your Meat." Morrissey is an avowed vegetarian but including this on a concert DVD just baffles me - at any rate, the meat-lovers among you would do well to not dine before viewing this 13-minute, fullscreen, Alec Baldwin-narrated short film detailing the abuses of animals raised for food.Final Thoughts:
The Morrissey faithful tend to snap up anything even remotely related to the Eighties icon - but there's actually enough substance here to recommend it to perhaps more casual fans or even those who wonder why the guy with the faux Elvis hair generates so much fuss. Recommended.