This Charming Man


Now that was an awesome weekend in Ljubljana! I met some old friends, drank coffee with my favourite professor — who had taught me many many interesting things about anthropology of popular music and culture during my studies back then –, and attended two amazing concerts. On Friday there was a concert by the highly acclaimed post-punk revival band The Soft Moon and the day after – finally! – I saw the legendary Morrissey live.

Many tried to understand Morrissey, the perhaps most enigmatic personality of our time. Humanoid, yet a specimen on its own, Steven Patrick Morrissey managed to polarise throughout his musical career, since he gained fame as the front-man of The Smiths (1982-87). After several fights with band colleague Johnny Marr The Smiths disbanded in 1987, but Morrissey came immediately back, starting a solo career only eight months after the split-up.

Morrissey is an excellent songwriter, the lyrics of his songs are full of black humour, cynicism and ambiguity. Keeping his private life a big secret adds to his mystery. What we know is that he is rejecting any kind of sexuality, because he thinks that most people take it too seriously anyway.

The concert began shortly after we entered Hala Tivoli. I am usually not very much into the idea that some people are “stars”. In his own words, he never wanted to be a star anyway, he wanted to be an icon, and true is that seeing Morrissey entering the stage gave me the goosebumps. His presence on stage is amazing. And this voice, still like in the 80s. His vocals are, actually, ones you either love or hate. The same is true for the whole Morrissey character.

Morrissey played a lot of his hits, like ‘Everyday is like Sunday‘, ‘Suedehead‘ or ‘The Boy with the Thorn in his Side’. When he played the Smiths‘ song ‘Meat is Murder’ there were short films of slaughterhouses that produce kosher/halal meat displayed on the big screen behind the stage. I looked around, hardly anyone could bear to watch these cruel treatments and killings of animals untouched. You must know that Morrissey is popular culture’s figurehead of veganism and devoted animal protectionist (“Be nice to animals or I will kill you!”).

When coming back for an encore, suddenly two apes appeared, to throw the guys down that tried to climb the stage to touch their Messiah. This seems to be a common phenomenon at Morrissey’s concerts. In a documentary I heard that Moz somehow appeals to the homosexual side of hetero men. Not that he would believe that something like homosexuality exists. Or heterosexuality for that matter.

Think about Steven Patrick Morrissey what you will, love him or hate him, but one thing is a fact: This man has burned himself into popular music’s history like no one else did before him. He is the understatement on any image of the classical rock-star. Moz became a legend, a mystery, and an icon. Not for nothing the magazine NME has announced Morrissey (respectively The Smiths) to be the “most influential musician of all time”. But I am quite sure that he doesn’t care much about that.

If you think that you understand Morrissey’s world, you certainly will find these charts very funny.

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