This Charming Man: Morrissey Live in Singapore

These things happened: the selling of merchandise at $50 per t-shirt, a man shouting “Morrissey is cat” and then later, “Morrissey Nazi”, a long period of expected tardiness, but the most important thing that happened was that Steven Patrick Morrissey was in Singapore, on a stage, in Fort Canning.

Up till the last minute, I was still doubtful of Morrissey performing that night. He sent letters to the Indonesian government to shut down a Surabaya zoo and one to the Philippines to release an elephant, but publicity in Singapore was kept minimum, nobody was raving about it on the streets and but this was happening all right. The famous Morrissey, of the famous Smiths was really going to be here.

For most of us, it was his time with The Smiths that got us noticing Morrissey and his gloomy poetics. They may have disbanded on the year I was born but this man was present throughout my growing pains (still undergoing) – these feelings, it has been reaffirmed, are mutual when he said to the crowd that night, “Wherever you go, I will be close behind.” Which was why his decision to stick to a short set-list and a one-song-only encore (‘LastNight I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’) was a little heartbreaking. And that’s my only complaint.

This period of tardiness I was talking about earlier, is by far the best hour of waiting I have experienced. In place of the usual shoddy opening band, screened on a giant sheet were videos of music that has inspired the Moz himself, presumably. The New York Dolls, Nico, Francoise Hardy and Brigitte Bardot may make good music and great fillers but we’re here for only one man.

Then Morrissey took the stage and this was how I died.

Or not, but seeing Morrissey in the flesh sent the 4500 of us into another place temporarily. In front of an image of Oscar Wilde asking ‘Who is Morrissey?’, he opened with the rarely performed Smiths’ song ‘How Soon Is Now’ for starters and we were already finding it hard to keep it together. By the next song, aptly titled ‘You Have Killed Me’, you could safely say that what was happening is in fact, real life.

And that voice! The voice of my childhood and adolescence, the voice of reason and clarity. While his onstage antics were less flamboyant and he grumbled about the humidity a lot, this man in a polka-dot shirt in front of me is still the original Charming Man from the 80s. He steered quite a bit from The Smiths’ material which may have disappointed many of the fans that night. He included a number of songs from his most recent work, Years of Refusal but failed to include more definitive Morrissey/Smiths songs. This lack of tribute to that era and his choice to sing ‘Meat Is Murder’ with a video on animal cruelty playing awkwardly in the background ticked me off a little but still, I’ll take what I can get. Whatever he sang, we lapped up happily. Some poignant song moments included ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ and ‘I Know It’s Over’ which allowed us to stop shouting and stop feeling jealous at the person who caught Morrissey’s tossed shirt. The things I would do to that shirt.

The set ended too soon and I stood there after the encore, still hopeful for another one. Several shirt changes, all the flirting with the crowd and Oscar Wilde’s question ‘Who is Morrissey?’ still unanswered, surely it’s not over already. Charmed, with a thorn in my side, and in a coma (going for an overkill), I sighed and proceeded to exit Fort Canning. Oh Morrissey, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied.

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