That Charming Man

I’ve been to a few concerts over the years, but I’ve never known pre-show excitement like that before the Morrissey concert in late 2002. It might have had something to do with the fact that this was his first appearance in South Australia, or it might have been that he was rumored to be performing songs from a new album, his first in 7 years. Whatever the case, the voice of a generation of indie kids was going to be on stage in a matter of minutes, and the audience was humming with anticipation.

Stupidly, I’d bought tickets in the seated area of Thebarton Theatre, which is located far from the stage. Morrissey was only halfway through his first song – ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ – when I decided that this was no way to see one of my idols. I abandoned my seat and joined the throng at the front of the stage. Reviewers were subsequently critical of the idiosyncratic set list and sound quality, but I don’t think anyone minded at the time. And, at the concert’s end, as Morrissey sang ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, I would have waved my lighter too, if I’d had one, despite years of laughing at such people.

One of the pleasures of file-sharing is the ability to swap rare material – demos, live tracks, alternate versions – with other fans across the world. Among some of my ‘treasures’ are copies of some early Talking Heads demos, an Associates concert from 1980 and, amazingly, a copy of that 2002 Morrissey concert in Adelaide. The sound quality is so good it’s hard to believe that someone recorded it on equipment probably hidden in his or her jacket, or glued to the sole of their shoe. Every technical glitch and caustic comment is preserved in excellent condition. And, if you listen really hard, you can hear the moment when my knickers hit Morrissey in the face and he gags for just a second.

Morrissey has just finished putting the final touches to his latest album, ‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’. It was recorded in Rome with legendary producer, Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T-Rex, Thin Lizzy), and has been described by Morrissey himself as ‘my most beautiful album’. I don’t expect that he has lost any of his acerbic wit, however, judging by the titles of some of the songs: ‘You Have Killed Me’; ‘Life Is A Pigsty’ and ‘The Father Who Must Be Killed’ which, according to Billboard magazine, ‘juxtaposes a murderous storyline with an ultra-poppy chorus’. ‘Ringleader’ will also feature string arrangements scored by Ennio Morricone and an Italian children’s choir.

For some ‘behind-the-scenes’ photos of the recording sessions and other information visit Tony Visconti’s website.

Meanwhile, I have been able to acquire a ‘preview’ of one of the songs from the album. The opening track, ‘I Will See You In Far Off Places’ is available to download from the ‘Soundtrack’ page of Graham Catt’s website. It will only be available for a short time, so please be quick. The file is about 8mb in size, so dial-up users will need to be patient.

‘Ringleader Of The Tormentors’ is due for release in the UK on April 3rd, while the first single from the album, ‘You Have Killed Me’ will be released on March 20th.

Let’s hope an Australian release date is not far behind.

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