Published on April 14th, 2014


MorrisseyPerhaps the biggest surprise about Morrissey’s acclaimed, score-settling, news-making Autobiography is how unstoppably funny the book is. Maybe it shouldn’t have been so surprising; self-deprecating wit and offbeat humor have pervaded his lyrics since the earliest Smiths recordings. But for a man whose cultivated image is a totem to miserablism—to hyperbolic proclamations of endless despair—his flair for comedy is frequently arresting, almost making you wonder if his abject melancholy is an act. The DecemberistsColin Meloy, who covered six of Moz’s tunes for an EP, captured this dichotomy best when he told a reporter, “you could either bask in that glow of fatalistic narcissism, or you could think it was funny. I always thought that was an interesting dynamic in his songwriting.”

There’s no better way to experience this dynamic than Morrissey’s live shows, with their mix of self-conscious theatricality and genuine emotional immersion into songs new, old and very old. This recollection from the Smiths years, in Autobiography, still holds true of his public performances: “I consigned all of my best efforts to conviction, and all of my being went into each song. This can be embarrassing for onlookers—an embarrassment that makes us turn away when someone bears their soul in public.” Yet it’s tempered, these days, by maturity and humor. He’s not the shy, awkward beanpole of yesteryear but a calculated, expert frontman who knows exactly the point at which to remove one of his many shirts to elicit exactly what he wants from his teeming followers. As his hordes of fans climb over one another to touch a fraction of his outstretched, demigod hand during “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” Morrissey permits himself a laugh or two, even while welcoming death via double-decker bus.

Lately, South Florida audiences have felt justifiably gypped from this heavenly merger of depression and frivolity that is a Morrissey concert: Both of his most recent scheduled dates in our region, from 2007 and 2009, were canceled due to illness, so we can be forgiven if we take his latest announced appearance, at 8pm on May 31 at the Arsht Center, with a few grains of salt. Barring an unforeseen cancelation, expect Moz to play a few tunes from his forthcoming summer release World Peace is None of Your Business, along with a generous helping of classics from his Smiths and solo careers. Kristeen Young will open the show.  |  SOLD OUT!

~ John Thomason