Reviewed by Marc Savlov, Fri., June 1, 2007
The Backyard, May 26
Despite recent media coverage to the contrary, the queen is still dead, although longtime fans of the former Smiths frontman presumably embraced the irony inherent in Morrissey's frequent use of the royal "we" during between-song patter. Saturday's singles-heavy Backyard set was prefaced by a series of backstage mishaps the video backdrop had blown down, the preshow music was scuttled in favor of the dire and dreary "Imperfect List" poem from the Who Put the 'M' in Manchester? live DVD, and rain showers appeared imminent. But it did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the 4,000-plus crowd, which, fittingly, ranged in age from at least one attendee still in the womb ("At last I am born!") to creeper-clad patio-sitters who likely caught Manchester's finest surnames the first go-round. The Moz himself appeared especially fit and dapper, his famously chiseled mug veering between sneer and bemusement on "The Last of the Famous International Playboys," and eye-rolling cheek during "Disappointed" and from-the-attic singles "Lucky Lisp" and "The National Front Disco." Meanwhile, back at stage left, guitarist Boz Boorer continued to remind people why Johnny Marr no longer matters with a raging, effects-drenched version of "How Soon Is Now?" leading into the churning grind of encore "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side." (Stage right found former Austinite Jesse Tobias dropping his guitar at one point, but, alas, it missed the queen entirely.) Strangely, Morrissey's anti-Bush rhetoric was kept to a minimum, although the Fox News-worthy tidbit that Bush Sr. had "married a man" was a sweet touch. So the Krays know his name, the queen remains immaterial, and considering the drive out to the Backyard, Morrissey has now, officially, been seen in far-off places. Consider this boy happy.