Last weekend I saw Morrissey perform the last show of a short residency at the Hollywood Palladium. A momentous build up for me – finally I would get to see live the man who created some of my favourite ever songs, the lead singer of a band who changed my life forever but broke up before I was old enough to see them live. I remember as a kid watching The Smiths on Top of The Pops – a legendary weekly chart TV show and “thinking whose that skinny weirdo with the flowers and the hearing-aid”, little did I know that weirdo would change my life.

Just as I was getting into The Smiths – they broke up – and that was that. I followed Morrissey into his solo career and loved Viva Hate his first solo album, then Bona Drag, but after that I kind of lost interest in his solo albums, lamenting for the jangle pop of The Smiths. The Smiths where only active from 1982 to 1987 – in such a short time they created music that is still as relevant today as it was 20 years ago with Morrissey’s tongue in cheek, sexually ambiguous, and sometimes controversial lyrics, and Marr’s complex, dense guitar riffs.

My school friend Patsy and I shared a Smiths obsession, educated and fueled by her older sister Teresa’s vast knowledge and record collection. Patsy and I were two of the handful of people into alternative music at secondary school – unsurprisingly we were considered weird. I had black hair and was pale so therefore in the narrow minds of my class mates was often accused of being Gothic like it was some kind of disease. The Smiths kept me going and brought me comfort during that awkward teenage period – I would spend hours wearing out my copy of The Queen Is Dead on tape!

Despite being under age Patsy and I would wangle our way into the Majestic, a nightclub in my home town every Sunday because that was alternative night. It was full of goths, rockabillys, psychobillys, indie kids – anyone who liked alternative music basically. Whilst there was some comfort to be found in a kinship of music even here I felt awkward – it was a different kind of awkwardness from that of school – here we weren’t cool enough for a different reason but at least no one teased us. Where you sat was crucial to your social grouping – sat in the right side top corner – you were ‘indie’, and each week you would sit in the same place – it was a weird unspoken rule. We’d go religiously every Sunday night for years and years even when it was shit really, cause if you didn’t go then you might miss something. The club changed hands and became Washington Heights after a re-vamp with awful tacky plastic American symbols everywhere – and finally it became Club RG1. Thankfully I think I stopped going then or they stopped Sunday nights.

Listening to The Smiths always reminds me of those happy but naive early days at The Majestic and sitting on Teresa’s bed smoking Silk Cut cigarettes watching her quiff her hair magnificently as we got ready to go there.

A couple of months ago a friend of mine convinced me to go with her to see Morrissey – I was hesitant at first – I didn’t know any of his new material, but she swore he was starting to play Smiths songs as part of his set and the chance to hear ‘Girlfriend In A Coma’ etc was too much. So we went – the Palladium is a beautiful art deco building with chandeliers and signs for ‘the powder room’, they are closing it down at the end of the month to restore it to its former glory – somewhat of a first for Los Angeles – in a city that is the back drop for so many movies, normally they treat everything like a movie set and tear it all down and start again.

Despite playing three Smiths songs it just wasn’t the same. It was great to see him in the flesh – this guy I had hero worshiped for so long, just standing yards away from me. I had actually seen Morrissey in an English pub in LA six years ago but this time I could gawk at him without fear. It was a good concert and I was surprised at the numerous offerings fans held up to Morrissey to accept – mostly rare records they knew he collected, and the passion with which they sang along to his songs – songs I had no idea about. I left the evening feeling slightly disappointed, crushed even. A couple of days later I have finally found the words came to me to describe how I felt – it was rather like seeing an old boyfriend who has moved on, has a new circle of friends and you are still wistfully remembering the old times.

Life tends to come and go…

Not Goth, 34, Redondo Beach, CA

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