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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisFor a guy who's notoriously reclusive, rarely (if ever) grants interviews and would never even consider reuniting with groundbreaking Brit-rockers The Smiths, the public sure has seen a lot of Morrissey in recent months. After a seven year absence that seemed painfully longer for his freakishly dedicated flock, the official comeback trail began with the release of 2004's You Are the Quarry, which found the former front man visiting a fair amount of clubs and theatres across the globe to instant sell out status. Between the audience's blazing hot reception and overwhelming critical praise, Moz's creative inspiration kept flowing, yielding the 2006's Ringleader of the Tormentors, which debuted during a SxSW appearance, followed by a few spot dates across the country (including a sole fall 2006 outing at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom with fans flying in from all over the world).
Thankfully, the exclusive nature of those shows was expanded to a proper, full-fledged outing this entire year, taking the charismatic crooner through a series of American residencies, traditional tour dates and international appearances. While it might seem like overkill to keep promoting a record that's been out over a year and a half, at least the set lists continue to change almost every night on the road, keeping the flow fairly unpredictable and forcing faithful to come back for more. And those who filled more than half of Indiana's sizeable Star Plaza Theatre weren't disappointed thanks to a generous spread of solo material and even a sprinkling from The Smiths era (including the introductory intensity of "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before").
From the newer cannon of material, "You Have Killed Me" was a superb standout, flanked by Moz's whip-smart five peace band and his brooding cries of instantly relatable misery. Though the singer's sporting a much happier demeanor these days, he remains consistently charming when interpreting despair laden lyrics, providing a sense of relief to sufferers dealing with any subject through a simple twirling of the microphone cable or a devious wink to the first few rows. On a lighter note the relevantly recent "Irish Blood, English Heart" connected with skull shattering electricity and the main mouthpiece's theatrical delivery. Additional atmosphere was conjured up in the yet to be recorded highly emotive offering "One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell," the melancholy but still entrancing "Dear God, Please Help Me" and the instantly familiar yearning of "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me."
Speaking of The Smiths sprinklings, those segments truly brought down the house, not only holding up remarkably well (despite the two-plus decades that passed since the original recordings), but also serving as tangible examples of the act's tremendous impact on the current alternative class. The hypnotic "How Soon Is Now" was particularly potent as Morrissey's impassioned pleas of "I am human and I need to be loved/ just like everybody else does" incited a near-riotous response from all ages and sexes (dozens of whom tried to jump on stage for a quick hug or even thread of clothing). No matter what the tune, the icon's fascinating presence was still magnetically captivating, a fact that will hopefully maintain this renewed pace of relevant recordings and vitality-filled tours long into Moz's golden years.
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