Critic's Notebook: Moz came to Atlanta

It was a good stay

I love to say "I told you so," and the past few days have given me plenty of opportunity. Last week I predicted that Morrissey would perform his scheduled concerthttp://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2015/06/10/critics-notebook-moz-is-coming-to-atlanta at Atlanta's Symphony Hall, in spite of the performer's long string of cancellations in recent years, which had many local fans saying this one wouldn't happen either. Well, simply saying "Morrissey came to Atlanta" is something of an understatement; he came and performed one of the best shows we've ever seen.

With no opening act, Morrissey began his set promptly at 9 p.m., after about 30 minutes of curated, pre-show videos projected on a screen, a set of short films that included things such as, taped performances by the seminal punk band the New York Dolls and the drag queen Lypsinka.

Morrissey began his show with an apology for being "two years late," and the performance did seem to take the form of a compensatory gesture for all the cancellations. Beginning with "Suedehead" and moving through a total of 22 songs from throughout his decades-long career, the set leaned heavily toward songs from recent albums: the solid but hard-to-warm-up-to World Peace is None of Your Business and the lovely, under-appreciated Swords. He did three Smiths songs: "Meat is Murder," "Stop Me if You Think that You've Heard This One Before," and, as part of his encore, "What She Said." He also did a lot of solo classics including "Speedway," "Will Never Marry," "Yes, I Am Blind," "Everyday is Like Sunday," and "Now My Heart is Full."

You wouldn't think it would be something so rare, but Morrissey is one of those unusual singers whose voice actually sounds better as he ages: he now has a supple, evenly-toned, rich, smoothly expressive tenor with an interesting depth, and a broad range, which is not, I think, how anyone would have described his voice on early Smiths songs. His band sounded fantastic. Most of the musicians have been with him for years, and the latest addition, multi-instrumentalist Mando Lopez, took centerstage to sing a verse of a song, "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," in Spanish, a tip of the hat to Morrissey's large Hispanic fan base and to the recent success of the band Mexrrissey, which covers Morrissey songs in Spanish.

During his encore, Morrissey used a piece of paper on which his set list was written to scoop up a bug that had crawled on stage (it was probably just wanting to give Moz a big hug). Morrissey stooped down to gently put the bug onto the paper and then passed it on to a stage hand who carried it away. Other than the bug, there were actually no stage invaders, which is somewhat surprising because it's almost always a given that some fans will get on stage no matter the barriers, and the Symphony Hall's platform is really only about waist-high from the front row. As often happens, toward the end of the show, Morrissey threw his shirt into the audience, and as seldom happens, it didn't tear, which means that someone in Atlanta ended up with a whole Morrissey shirt (I heard it nearly started a fight — I didn't see it)

In all seriousness, it was a fantastic show, and if the quality is consistent, fans in subsequent cities (Atlanta was just the second stop on this tour) are very much in luck. All is forgiven in the ATL, Moz. Come back soon.