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Review: Who Put The ‘M’ In Manchester? (Morrissey live DVD)

April 19th, 2005 · No Comments

I think I was 15 the first time I heard The Smiths. The song was “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,” the last track on the Pretty In Pink film soundtrack — probably the most influential source of music for me during high school. I became an instant fan. Morrissey’s voice was soothing, his lyrics pointed and humorous, and I quickly bought the first album I could find by The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead.

I can still remember putting the tape in, hearing the first strains of Johnny Marr’s guitar on “The Queen Is Dead…” and then laughing at the tongue-in-cheek “Frankly Mr. Shankly.” By the time I got to “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and “There Is A LIght That Never Goes Out,” I knew this was a band I would listen to for the rest of my life.

I think many fans of The Smiths feel the same way — many are devoted, some a little too caught up in it all. People always take things to extremes — it’s human nature — so you have the people that dress like Morrissey, have their hair like Morrissey, or cry when you mention his name. That can be taken as a testament to the band’s music or psychosis, depending on your view.

When The Smiths called it quits, I figured it was for the best. I would have hated for the band to go out on a sour note. But when I found Morrissey’s solo debut, Viva Hate, it made me wonder why the band didn’t just release it as their own. Knowing what I know now, there was much more to it. At the time, I was just happy to have new music by the voice of The Smiths.

Viva Hate, in an eighties word, was awesome. At times sarcastic and heartfelt, but overall witty and smart, it was the perfect album at the perfect time. But 1989 was a long time ago, and a lot has happened since — especially in music. Being a long-time fan, I have kept an eye on Morrissey’s solo work over the years. I definitely enjoyed the early stuff (the songs on Viva Hate, “November Spawned A Monster”), but my interest waned during the mid-Nineties. Last year’s successful We Are The Quarry was impressive, but overall left me longing to listen to The Smiths.

However, I recently watched Morrissey’s new live DVD, Who Put The ‘M’ In Manchester?, which was recorded at a Manchester concert on the singer’s birthday in 2004. The show is brilliantly filmed, with a perfect combination of footage of the band and fans. The focus is on Morrissey, of course, and his songs range from a mixture of his solo work, a cover or two, to a few songs from his days with The Smiths.

The best songs are “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” (of course), “Hairdresser On Fire,” “The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores,” “A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours,” and “I Have Forgiven Jesus.” The DVD also includes a few extras, including a disturbing PETA promo film about animal abuse. It also includes five live performances from Manchester’s Move Festival, and videos for “Irish Blood, English Heart,” “First Of The Gang To Die” (both the UK and US versions are included), and “I Have Forgiven Jesus.”

It’s excellent to see fans still rabid after all these years, and it’s apparent that Morrissey’s talent and devotion to his fans is just as strong.

You can order your copy of Who Put The ‘M’ In Manchester? by clicking here.

Now Playing in My iPod: British Sea Power — Open Season

Tags: Music