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Morrissey at The Orpheum Theatre, 11/20/11

Morrissey Orpheum Theatre Sunday, November 20, 2011

Click here for more photos by Maria Vassett

Morrissey has never been the kind of artist to shy away from what's on his mind. Animal rights is a topic near and dear to the man's heart, and while songs like "Meat Is Murder" address the topic artfully, Moz has resorted to uglier (some would say racist) statements to get his point across.

But last night's performance at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Phoenix was straightforward, focused more on music than soapboxing. He crooned the lyrics to his songs, strutted on stage, gave wistful looks and was, in general, everything you'd expect Morrissey to be. Morrissey didn't seem interested in generating any controversy last night; he did seem interested in just putting on a fantastic show.

Of course, the show wasn't completely without personal messages. During The Smiths' classic "Meat Is Murder," a video showing chickens and cows being slaughtered was projected to a screen on stage. Given Morrissey's status as a spokesman for PETA, it wasn't unexpected, but it was still a bummer to watch.

The singer and his backing band played a nice mix of songs that included Smiths' songs like "I Want The One I Can't Have" and "I Know It's Over", and included several tracks off his most recent solo album, Years of Refusal. He also threw in a nice cover of Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love."

Morrissey came out sporting a costume change for his encore and began to play "Still Ill" when a fan rushed the stage. It wasn't the first time a fan managed to get up there, and perhaps sensing that this was their last chance to do so, several fans attempted to rush the stage. Given that there was no barrier separating the crowd and the stage, security did their best to keep fans off but a few managed to slip by them. To his credit, Morrissey seemed to be a good sport about it.

The encore was probably the most exciting part of the show, just because you weren't sure just what was going to happen next. It would have been fun to see how many more fans would've been able to slip past security. But once his song was over, he simply ripped his shirt off and walked off stage. (The rending of garments! How dramatic.)

If you can make any one complaint about last night's performance from Morrissey, it's that it was a fairly brief performance, one that lasted only a little over an hour. Given his extensive catalog, he could have gone on for much longer. It's nitpicky, sure, and given the fact that Morrissey managed to put on such a good show within that hour timeframe, it's a minor gripe.

Critics Notebook:

Last Night: Morrissey and Kristeen Young

Personal Bias: I've always been a casual Morrissey fan.

The Crowd: A diverse crowd.

Overheard in the crowd: "If I wear a hat, I look like I'm 16, but if I wear a beanie, I look like a juggalo." -- A concertgoer facing some tough choices.

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Random notebook dump: Just because you scream the name of your favorite song as loud and as often as you can, it doesn't mean that the band or artist you came to see will hear you, drop everything they already have planned and play that one song for you. Please don't be this person.

Set List: "I Want the One I Can't Have" "You Have Killed Me" "You're the One for Me, Fatty" "Black Cloud" "When Last I Spoke to Carol" "Everyday Is Like Sunday" "Maladjusted" "Meat Is Murder" "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris" "Action Is My Middle Name" "Speedway" "People Are the Same Everywhere" "Ouija Board, Ouija Board" "All the Lazy Dykes" "Satellite of Love" (Lou Reed cover) "Scandinavia" "I Know It's Over"

Encore: "Still Ill"

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