Photo by Nina Khachiyan.
Today I went to the first of two consecutive Morrissey shows at Terminal 5. You may have heard about Morrissey fans and our weird thing of going to multiple shows in a single tour. It’s as much a fact of our fandom as it is a practical matter (homie only tours every so often), but it’s worthwhile because every performance is slightly different.
I came in having been “warned” about the “Meat is Murder” montage that Moz does about three-quarters of the way through the set. Was it unpleasant? Yes. Was it an imposition? Yes. But it was also the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen an artist do for his audience.
It was hard to regroup and enjoy the rest of the show after seeing the horrors of the corrupt and wasteful meat industry juxtaposed against the innocent, confused and loving expressions of these beautiful animals forced to suffer—often at the hands of exceptionally sadistic people who derive their very sense of power from degrading the weak and the helpless—for something as ephemeral as our sensory pleasure. It’s even harder to accept that most people aren’t overeager carnivores, just willfully ignorant of the facts because they are so distressing to face.
The way Morrissey and his team devised this coup was brilliant. We come to enjoy a show and are caught unawares in a moment of vulnerability. We cannot hide or flee. It’s late enough that it doesn’t spoil the experience yet it leaves a lasting impression. (Afterwards, Moz quipped to the effect of, “And here you thought you had tickets to Mama Mia!”) The analogy between us and the animals in that moment is unintended, perhaps, but also unavoidable. Except they, unlike us, are born to die. I’m not here to foist my ideology on anyone because I can’t say I’m entitled to one, but this was by far one of the strongest and most coherent political statements I’ve ever witnessed an artist make on stage (take that Madonna, with your neutered, ill-conceived pseudo-jargon and “sexy” Mussolini getups).
Terminal 5 is an awesome venue. Morrissey and band sounded incredible—tight, full, loud—and interpreted the ish out of what initially looked like a mediocre setlist. Not to mention, played “Maladjusted,” it being another stifled Friday night and all. Plus, he seemed in good spirits/was wearing a wondrously tacky array of tunics (that canary yellow yoke number!). I’ll be back tomorrow to be traumatized yet again, but as awful as it feels, I want to keep this feeling of indignation alive.