Morrissey's UK tour arrived in Leeds on Wednesday night for the biggest show of the tour at Millennium Square supported by The Slow Readers Club and The Lottery Winners. Stuart Ralston travelled to Leeds for the evening and was completely blown away.
Back in March when it was announced that The Slow Readers Club would be opening for Morrissey in Leeds, there was immediate excitement, and I knew I had to be there. With the band being big Smiths fans, I knew it was destined to be a special evening and it certainly was.
As we arrive, The Lottery Winners are already on stage and the stunning 8,000 capacity Millennium Square is already filling up nicely. The Lottery Winners - and singer Thom especially - are thrilled and honoured to be supporting Morrissey. They relish the occasion and treat it as a festival performance. They do a wonderful job too, treating the diehard Smiths and Moz fans down the front with their infectious brand of pop. It’s a great set and they go down a storm.
The sound of Donna Summer pumping through the PA heralds the arrival of The Slow Readers Club, and looking round the stunning square, they’ve brought many of their own fans with them. Opening with a powerful and uplifting Modernise, the band are on fire and make the most of their 30 minute set. Modernise is a pulsating start aided by Kurt’s backing vocals and gets a warm reaction from the crowd. Aaron commands the stage, and like The Lottery Winners before, expresses the band’s love for The Smiths and Morrissey. Tonight’s short set means the crowd only get a taster of what The Slow Readers Club can do with the anthemic and stomping power pop of All I Hear up next.
The intensity is kept up by The Wait, which sounds like a throw back to their self-titled debut long player and features a powerful vocal from Aaron. Afterlife is introduced as a new one and changes the dynamic of their set slightly as it’s more downbeat yet as it progresses, it gains momentum and power and is a good choice to showcase their current album to the crowd. As soon as the electro intro of Plant The Seed gets underway, there’s a joyful whoop from those Readers fans in the crowd - of which there are many.
I Saw A Ghost and Lunatic bring the short set to a close and both deliver. It’s always interesting to see a band you are used to seeing headline open for another artist. It was exciting seeing them playing on such a big stage. The sound was excellent and the band commanded the stage. The last time I saw The Slow Readers Club play in Leeds was back in 2014 at the Carpe Diem pub to about forty people; this evening’s set was enjoyed by thousands.
It’s Morrissey’s show though and as soon as he walks on stage, there’s so much love and admiration in the air that you can feel it. Opening with The Smiths classic How Soon Is Now?, Morrissey is in fine voice. There was more than a little apprehension that he might not make it tonight, as his previous show in Nottingham was postponed then subsequently cancelled on Sunday. You can almost sense the relief when he graces the stage, looking as dapper as ever. The atmosphere in the arena is incredible and the approximately 8000-strong audience are transfixed. An amazing opening. “From Quarryhill flats, we’ve come to do you over” he quips before they incredibly manage to shift it up another gear as Suedehead gets underway - the audience almost threatening to drown Morrissey and his band out. Another Smiths song - Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before - keeps the momentum up and is loved by the fans, with many in the crowd not even born when The Smiths were penning these classics.
Irish Blood, English Heart is delivered with a real passion. Lyrically, it’s one of Morrissey’s most powerful songs. Before the next one, he announces “I don’t want to shock anyone in the audience but in my very short life… I have had three girlfriends… Virginia Woolfe, Diana Dors and Ena Sharples” - to much hilarity before launching into another Smiths classic Girlfriend In A Coma and another mass sing-a-long.
“Who would save France? and who would ask the question?” Morrissey poses before I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris. It’s followed by Notre-Dame and a cue for many in the crowd to visit the bar or have a catch up with their mates. New song Norte-Dame is already courting some controversy but Morrissey wouldn’t be Morrissey if there wasn’t! Some hardcore fans have accused him of being a bit lazy with his new material. For me, the three new ones played tonight - including Sure Enough The Telephone Rings - sound like vintage Morrissey. “I say somethings people don’t like. I believe it’s called the truth” greets another new one The Night Pop Dropped. The Night Pop Dropped has funk and swagger and on first listen is my pick of the three (I know some of the new songs have been aired a lot over the past year but they are new to me!).
After Morrissey introduces his amazing band, it’s a return to The Smiths with a laid back Half A Person. Our Frank picks up the pace again and helps re-engage the more causal fans around us. A piano solo follows before Morrissey casually picks up his tambourine. He saunters to the centre of the stage and a beautifully emotive Everyday Is Like Sunday follows. In truth, I always find Everyday Is Like Sunday beautifully emotive; it’s one of the finest songs ever written.
Knockabout World and The Loop follow; “if you find yourself tonight having Percy Filth or, as they used to say years ago, sexual intercourse… think of me” suggests Morrissey before the rock n roll stomp of vintage b-side The Loop. Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want slows the pace down as the set draws to a close and the sun sets on us. Jack The Ripper is glorious before a final rousing Sweet And Tender Hooligan. As it draws to a close and Morrissey takes his bow, he removes his shirt, wipes the sweat from him and launches it into the crowd.
There’s a feeling from some in the crowd and later on-line in the busy Morrissey fan forums that we should get more but that’s it. I haven’t been to see him since Glasgow back in 2015 when the Saturday night crowd were out to drink and completely ignore what was going on on stage. Tonight thought for me was a complete transformation. The atmosphere was incredible and the performance breathtaking. There was something for everyone in the set and I left the square on a high. A truly memorable occasion.
Morrissey's official website can be found here
The Slow Readers Club's official website can be found here. They are also on Facebook and Twitter. They support Shed Seven in October and finish the year at Manchester Yes Basement (November 24), Manchester Canvas (December 1) and Manchester New Century Hall (8).