From Iceland — The Ringleader Refuses to Fail

The Ringleader Refuses to Fail

Published August 26, 2006

The Ringleader Refuses to Fail

For me, You Are the Quarry, by Morrissey, is one of the best comeback albums ever. Up there with Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. The chance to see him after the comeback was a dream, though I was nervous: I’d not yet heard Ringleader of the Tormentors, his newest release, and I was a little worried that I might be in store for a night of something as bad as Dylan’s failed comeback Street Legal. Truthfully, for many in attendance, the hope was to see a Street Legal-level performance, a perfect flop. Morrissey just has that personality – people have been waiting and watching with baited breath for him to fail.
From the first notes of the show, when, out of nowhere a rock orchestra started roaring, drums started pounding and a beautiful voice filled the air, it was obvious that this wouldn’t be a failure. When you start a concert with How Soon Is Now, you’re guaranteed success – even the lame-o witch soap opera Charmed got by, for a little while, by using a cover of it.
For those of you reading and doubting, thinking anyone can succeed on the power of the Smiths, you would have had to see the next number from You Are the Quarry. As he jumped into You Have Never Been in Love, I became a groupie, appropriate on that day especially, Iceland’s Gay Pride Day. And he was somehow expecting this reaction, I think. He stood there, throwing his mic cord around like a lion tamer, his yellow shirt tied at the bottom so that we could see his stomach.
He announced that he was going to play a few of his new songs. Now I became worried. After a bright day, there’s always a dark night. So, after genius like You Are the Quarry there must follow some mediocre crap. But his new songs were as good as his previous albums and even the Smiths songs. My favourite song that night was Life is a Pigsty, maybe because the lyrics rang so true.
Morrissey played four Smiths songs, which is more than his usual. Still, some of the old Smiths fans were unhappy. They bitched enough that I was forced to tell them this was a Morrissey concert so show some goddamn respect. I was pissed that he only played three songs from You Are the Quarry, but then every song was good so how could I complain?
Beyond the performance, and the few moaning Smiths fans, there was one problem: The sound was rubbish. I wanted to hear more singing and less feedback, not an enormous request. It was loud enough, but I credit Morrissey’s band for that.
After changing shirts three times, Morrissey sang Panic. I, like many of the people at the show, jumped out of my chair and ran towards the stage. Morrissey there played the role of messiah. A lot of people were touching Morrissey’s hand. I held back. After seeing such a show, I had a moment of intense self-doubt: What have I done to deserve to even kiss Morrissey’s feet?

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