MORRISSEY - LIVE IN SINGAPORE
Marina Barrage/Monday (Oct 17)
Probably no one goes to a Morrissey show to escape or feel better about the state of the world. For one would quickly be reminded of what a depressing place it is - whether it's the sorry state of world politics, wars, police brutality or animal cruelty.
The 57-year-old's second concert in Singapore opened with a video montage of soldiers marching and fighting wars, to the tune of World Peace Is None Of Your Business. It set the stage for the series of weighty Morrissey monologues to come.
The Moz, as he is affectionately known to his fans, glided onto stage at 8.30pm with his five-piece band and launched into Suedehead. Perhaps in reference to the show being postponed from Saturday to Monday, he cheekily asked the crowd: "How could you doubt me?"
He then continued to entertain the 2,500-strong crowd with a quickfire run of 1980s and 1990s material, including Alma Matters, Everyday Is Like Sunday and Speedway, his velvety vocals undimmed even more than 30 years after his debut with The Smiths, and despite his cancer-related treatments.
While his banter is usually limited and quite terse, he seemed to relish speaking in poetic overtures. "Today will never come again, tonight cannot be repeated, so with urgency and some desperation, let me say... Let Me Kiss You," he said with a dramatic flourish before launching into the song of the same name.
But as the 90-minute set rolled on, the material got heavier and the tone considerably darker. One shirt change later, he returned on stage to declare that news channels "are all the same" and "they don't like you and they never will" before segueing into a live version of World Peace Is None Of Your Business.
The spiral into darkness, accompanied by challenging imagery and doom-laden lyrics, was quick.
In Istanbul, Morrissey sang about a father identifying his dead son. Then came Ganglord, complete with a video montage of snippets of police brutality, replaying each horrifying incident in slow motion to belabour the point as he sang: "Ganglord, the police are, kicking their way into my house, and haunting me, taunting me."
The singer, who is famously critical of the British royal family also slipped in The World Is Full Of Crashing Bores, complete with pictures of Prince William and Kate Middleton on the screen behind him.
After each song, the applause was scattered - this clearly wasn't a dance-with-abandon type of gig.
The Smiths' smash hit, and clear crowd favourite How Soon Is Now lifted the mood towards the end of the set, but even that amber was quickly dashed with a rousing take of another Smiths classic Meat Is Murder.
While it was certainly an excellent live rendition of the song, the montage of confronting videos of slaughterhouse atrocities would have made even the most hardened animal rights activists uncomfortable.
Ending with The Smiths' What She Said, the band stepped off the stage without a word - the silence a contrast to the intensity of a show that left this reviewer needing a tea to take stock of the world.