Ehud Lazin

Morrissey at the Kings Theatre / November 30, 2022

What was once cutting edge and innovative is now middle-of-the-road and mainstream. Morrissey has been a solo artist a lot longer than he was a member of the Smiths, yet his five-year youthful stint in the Smiths from 1982 to 1987 laid the essential groundwork for his 34 years and running as a solo artist. At the Kings Theatre, the 63-year-old singer maintained his legacy by performing an enchanting yet very tame performance.

The Smiths preceded and perhaps ushered in the indie rock wave that dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s. Morrissey’s sometimes baritone and sometimes falsetto voice, dark lyrics and curious image, along with Johnny Mars’ guitar playing, were innovative for their time and quickly elevated the band from an underground cult phenomenon to international fame. Tensions between Morrissey and Mars led to a band split in 1987, and Morrissey launched a solo career the following year.

Morrissey’s current tour was intended to coincide with the release of his 14th solo album, Bonfire of Teenagers. The timing ended out of sync, however. Although Morrissey reportedly completed and submitted the album months ago, the record company first delayed the release until February 2023 and then recently postponed it indefinitely. At the Kings Theatre, the set included four songs from that future release, along with older songs dating back to his solo start and five songs from the Smiths’ catalog. In typical Morrissey wit, he told the audience that the album would not be available until they were all in their nineties, but that they “still might like it” at that age.

At the Kings Theatre, the Pope of Mope, as many of his fans have dubbed him, crooned in an impressively clear voice, never overpowered by his musicians (guitarists Alain Whyte and Jesse Tobias, keyboardist Gustavo Manzur, bassist Juan Galeano Toro, and drummer Brendan Buckley). Morrissey’s lyrics and even his chatter between songs often originated from his signature sardonic worldview or dark humor.

Morrissey sang pure pop melodies, and the band played immaculately clean arrangements. Those in the audience who just wanted to hear the voice and the lyrics got exactly what they hoped to receive with their admission. Those who hoped for a more rock and roll experience may have been disappointed, as the band precisely accompanied the tight song structures note by note. The performance was super slick, lacking any hint of raucous rock and roll energy and rebellion. The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and the new “Saint in a Stained Glass Window,” for instance, sounded fit for a cocktail lounge.

Granted, Morrissey’s core audience is largely middle aged or older, not youthful headbangers and moshers. Nevertheless, quite a few fans returned to teenage fandom. During several songs towards the end of the concert, security guards had to tear away a steady stream of men and women who climbed onstage to touch, hug, or kiss the performer. Morrissey concluded the encore as he has on other occasions, ripping off his shirt and showcasing his boxer’s torso. Not bad for a senior citizen.



  1. We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
  2. Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before (The Smiths song)
  3. Our Frank
  4. Rebels Without Applause
  5. Girlfriend in a Coma (The Smiths song)
  6. Sure Enough, the Telephone Rings
  7. I Am Veronica
  8. Jim Jim Falls
  9. Let Me Kiss You
  10. Everyday Is Like Sunday
  11. My Life Is a Succession of People Saying Goodbye
  12. Half a Person (The Smiths song)
  13. Knockabout World
  14. Irish Blood, English Heart
  15. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want (The Smiths song)
  16. Saint in a Stained Glass Window
  17. The Loop
  18. Jack the Ripper


  1. Sweet and Tender Hooligan (The Smiths song)