Morrissey, the former Smiths frontman who’s maintained a roller coaster solo career of inconsistency and controversy since that celebrated English band’s break-up in 1987, seems to have finally made peace with his musical past, and the result Wednesday was his most exciting and most fan-oriented local concert in years.
At the packed Palladium, the first of two hot-ticket shows, the suave and extra sensitive 40-year-old singer played 30 minutes longer than his usual hour-long perfs.
He sang lots of great tunes from his entire solo catalog, and, best of all for long-time fans, he offered a handful of Smiths tunes as if he actually enjoyed singing them as much as they enjoyed hearing them.
Opening with his 1992 track “You’re Gonna Need Someone On Your Side,” Morrissey (born Steven J. Morrissey) hit the stage in black leather pants and leather shirt as a shower of gladiolas were rained onto him by the worshipful devotees.
He reached out to touch the kids in the front as they continually spilled over the security barrier, dazed and covered in sweat.
The core of his supporting band has been together for numerous tours by now, and they sounded tight and fresh at the Palladium. The four players often brought compelling new interpretation and spirit to the songs, such as the fleet new beat apparent during 1990’s self-loathing “November Spawned a Monster” courtesy of drummer Spike Smith.
Highlights of the evening included the long and tense drama of 1995’s “Teachers Are Afraid of the Pupils,” a rousing encore take on The Smiths’ “Last Night I Dreamed Somebody Loved Me” and the irreverent 1990 nugget “Hairdresser On Fire.” During “Boy Racer,” Morrissey held a banana, which had been thrown onto the stage, playfully in front of his crotch.
The most dramatic portion of the show came during the musical break of the Smith’s song “Meat Is Murder,” when Morrissey, bathed in dark blood-like red lights, was writhing about on his back as if to represent an animal in pain.
“So the message is,” he said at song’s end, “when someone offers you some turkey at Christmas, just say no.”
The concert wasn’t as eventful as other Morrissey appearances in L.A. in the ’90s, including the Greek show that was aborted after fans overtook the stage, or the UCLA gig that resulted in a near-riot.