By, Tyler Lyn Sorrow
Picture it – Oakland, Nov. 18, 2,800 fans pack Oakland’s iconic Fox Oakland Theater to see Morrissey in a sold out show. The venue is a glorious testament to the history of Oakland and American design that’s become a favorite with artists.
Twin gold leafed deities flank the stage at the theater and were it not for the modern lighting, equipment and fans crowding the stage, Morrissey could have been mistaken for one of his influences from the 60’s. His familiar quaffed hairstyle is a little more silver these days, but then again so am I.
Opened in 1928, it was originally called The Bagdad, and it reflects trends and fascination with the Far East from the time period when “talkies” were just hitting the scene.
Morrissey is frequently mislabeled as a crooner although he doesn’t fit the definition, just as notable influence Frank Sinatra did not. Instead he’s known for his dramatic and energetic showmanship that hasn’t changed from his early days as a lyricist and singer of The Smiths. These days Morrissey floats somewhere between Lounge Singer, Mid-Modern Pop and early Brit Indie Rock. His sound and lyrics have grown in complexity since then but still exhibits strong thematic elements of overt violence and melancholy blended to create what feels like a pocket in time.
Though he may have been in his salad days, his lyrics from that time flirted with elements of Victorian Gothic Romance, traditional folk storytelling and anti-establishment authoritarianism. These elements have made him popular among Chicanos and, as our society becomes more familiar with acknowledging the ownership of the land we occupy, his popularity may grow even further.
On this evening though, Morrissey seemed a bit peaked lending credence to rumors he’s been sick. Once or twice I thought I heard the sound of his voice cracking but despite recent rumors he thrilled fans with the characteristic energy and charisma they’ve come to expect from one of his live shows. Many fans were wearing tour shirts from the 80’s and 90’s that seemed like they lost their original color sometime in the early 2000’s; it demonstrated the legacy of love they have for this man.
Morrissey performed many of his most popular songs from both his solo career and his days with The Smiths. A chorus of fans sing-along to “Girlfriend in a Coma,” “Everyday Is Like Sunday” and “I Am Not a Dog on a Chain” from his last album. He then told the crowd about his next one, entitled “Bonfire of the Teenagers,” and said, “It’s the best work of my career after the hardest year of my life.”
If that’s the case “Bonfire of the Teenagers” is sure to go over well with fans and the New Year is shaping up to be a bright one for both the poet and his loving listeners.