with The Smoking Popes

Mahaffey Theater, St. Petersburg • 11.12.97

Striding out in a flailed collar dress shirt and skintight slacks, Morrissey welcomed a very subdued crowd of around 1,000 with a polite “Hello Russia!,” before beginning a energetic 60 minute, 14 song set. Playing mostly newer songs from his last 2 albums, and his latest Maladjusted, Morrissey still knew how to whip his loyal followers into a steady frenzy. Grasping hands in the front two rows, taking handwritten notes from his fans, and trying to catch and flail back the multitude of Gladiolas being thrown at him from all directions, the show was something to watch. His voice was in true form last night as well, playing fan favorites such as “Now My Heart Is Full” and “Billy Budd,” while flinging his microphone to and fro.

Smiling and grinning, his facial expressions seemed to hide the prince of mope that everyone thinks he is. It was obvious that he was having a great time, and his energy was felt by everyone there. His droll comment “I suppose you will all move to Miami eventually” was pure Morrissey humor. He even delved into his Smiths’ closet for two songs: “Paint A Vulgar Picture,” which he introduced “as you know I used to play keyboards in a band called the Partridge Family, here is one of their faster songs,” and he closed the evening with his favorite Smiths song “Shoplifters Of The World Unite,” which enticed a few stage invaders to cross the security line and get to grab and hug Mr. Morrissey. He usually gets a few more of his virile fans up onstage to hug and touch their idol, but security at this venue was tight, not even letting people out of their rows, let alone on stage.

So thanks again Morrissey for venturing into our little town, you truly made a lot of people happy and you also made a few more fans as well. Just what this world needs.

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