Devotees of The Smiths and their former frontman Morrissey can’t really be told anything about either at this point that they don’t already know. Or anything that will change their minds about them, for that matter.
Over the course of four Smiths studio albums, one live album, three compilations and now, with Friday’s release of “Low in High School,” Morrissey’s 11th solo effort, their feelings about the British indie-pop legends are what they are.
The less hardcore, however, might yet be on the fence about whether to shell out $55-$85 to see Mr. Moz at Kingsbury Hall this Saturday. For those who have not breathlessly devoured the news of each of his latest exploits, here are four things to know about Morrissey ahead of Saturday’s show.
When • Saturday, 8 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $55-$85; tickets.utah.edu/category/kingsbury-hall/
1. His new album is about politics … and crotches
It’s not like Morrissey has ever not been political. And it’s not like anyone expected him to mellow with age. So, then, you could hardly be shocked to discover “Low in High School” is highly political. For starters, the album cover depicts a boy holding a sign that says “Axe the monarchy” and also an actual ax. Further, there are the less-than-subtle song titles such as “The Girl From Tel-Aviv Who Wouldn’t Kneel,” “Israel” and “Who Will Protect Us From the Police?” Meanwhile, “I Wish You Lonely” is an anti-government-and-military rant, and “I Bury the Living” is a vitriolic screed suggesting all soldiers are unthinking, unquestioning idiots. Even the theoretically benign “Spent the Day in Bed,” ostensibly about taking a momentary break from the drudgery of adulthood and responsibility, features a chorus about how the media are — a bit ironically, given his feelings about Donald Trump — fake news.
As for the crotches (don’t pretend you forgot), well, as NME points out, “Morrissey is fixated with the bit between your legs. His 11th solo album is chockablock with crotch.” Checkered history with Moz aside, they kinda have a point. To start with, there’s a track titled “When You Open Your Legs.” There’s another called “In Your Lap.” That could be innocent, right? Except that he sings, “I just want my face in your lap.” And then, on “Home Is a Question Mark,” he sings, “Wrap your legs around my face.” No subtlety there. So if you’re the type who embarrasses easily, be forewarned.
2. Pray that Kingsbury Hall’s heating system has had a recent tune-up
Morrissey recently made headlines for canceling a show in Paso Robles, Calif. In a vacuum, that’s not news — people get sick, life gets in the way, transportation breaks down, stuff happens. It’s just that shows don’t usually get postponed after all the fans are already in the venue.
In this instance, Morrissey was slated to play an outdoor venue on a 40-degree night, and a late breakdown of an onstage heater persuaded him to just stay in his dressing room instead. Never mind that the thousands of fans in attendance were experiencing the same chilliness. Well, perhaps not exactly the same — presumably, not every fan’s shirt was open to their belly buttons. At any rate, the Kingsbury Hall crew would do well to ensure the building’s heater is in fine working order.
It may not even matter, though. This particular absence made waves, but honestly, Morrissey randomly bails on enough shows that he makes early-’90s Axl Rose look positively reliable, stable and punctual by comparison.
3. All politicians are rotten, until they give him an award
Again, it’s not news that Morrissey considers politicians about as useful as that thing you ordered that one time from that late-night infomercial when you had insomnia. Stupid piece of junk. He’s apparently willing to hold his tongue, however, any old time the Los Angeles City Council offers to honor him with his own official day.
According to the Los Angeles Times, upon being feted in a backstage ceremony in which councilwoman Monica Rodriguez gave him a framed document proclaiming Nov. 10 “Morrissey Day” in Los Angeles, the singer and part-time L.A. resident responded, “I can’t really find words — there aren’t really any words. I’m just very pleased. I’ll take it to bed.”
Very un-Moz-like. Did Johnny Marr get all gushy back when then-British Prime Minister David Cameron announced he was a big fan of The Smiths? Not quite. “Stop saying that you like
4. He has no filter
Again, this is not news. Morrissey’s entire career has been filled with him unleashing a steady stream of acerbic, acidic, non-politically-correct commentary. It’s no secret that the vegan’s live performances of “Meat Is Murder” are accompanied by an intentionally disturbing video of animals being slaughtered. That’s at least understandable, if no less hard to stomach (which, yes, I realize, is precisely his point).
In recent years, though, he has been turning away even some longtime fans with harder-to-defend statements. He called Chinese people “a subspecies” for their treatment of animals. Last year, he drew scrutiny for alleged anti-immigration leanings when he hailed Brexit as “magnificent.” Those assertions sprang back to life last month when, during a BBC 6 performance, he claimed election results were rigged when openly anti-Islam candidate Anne Marie Waters failed to gain leadership of the right-wing, nationalist, “Eurosceptic” UK Independence Party (UKIP).