Morrissey @ The Usher Hall, 30 July
With no current record deal and self-imposed retirement looming (2014, he says), Morrissey has everything and nothing to prove tonight. Recent reports suggest that the complaints of middle-age are forcing his hand out of the game for dignity's sake, so it’s a surprise to find the 53-year-old in fine voice and cutting a healthier figure than the myth might have you believe.
Cherry-picking from a career now in breach of thirty years, it’s a thrill to hear vintage Smiths staples like Still Ill and I Know It's Over contrasting with the newer, roaring, I Will See You In Far-Off Places. “However, you don't get away so lightly,” he warns before the bitter pill that is Meat Is Murder – delivered with sledgehammer subtlety and grisly old footage of farm animal cruelty. “KFC,” he shakes his head like he wrote the song yesterday, “it's murder...d'you care?”
A projection of Oscar Wilde asking ‘Who Is Morrissey?’ takes on a bitter context when our host decries the state's historical failure to recognise key romantic poets, whilst resurrecting the suspicion that he’s after a place on the honours list himself. "The British establishment still give prizes to the mediocre, and they hate people who are not mediocre,” he insists, before underlining the point with a majestic rendition of Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.
Zealous fans accept a final encore of How Soon Is Now? as a challenge to invade the stage; with roses at his feet, he helps up the few who make it through the security scrum for one last cuddle. “If anybody needs me, I'll be in the backyard," he offers as this European tour comes to a close. If retirement really is around the corner, Morrissey's got a funny way of queing for his bus pass.