He doesn't look like a pop star, what with his pasty skin and scruffy black pompadour. He doesn't dance very well and sings with a crooning, slightly nasal tenor unlike anything in mainstream rock and roll. His records are virtually unknown in this country, apart from college radio and alternative rock circles. He's anything but a household name.
Yet the reception Morrissey received last night at the Merriweather Post Pavilion was nothing short of ecstatic. Never mind that there was no opening act (scheduled starter Phranc canceled, reportedly because of a "family emergency") or that his 16-song set and two encores lasted little more than 70 minutes;his fans weren't about to complain. Though one of his songs insists that "There's a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends," as far as this audience was concerned, any place that featured Morrissey's music was near enough to heaven.
Why? Some of the excitement undoubtedly stemmed from the fact that this was Morrissey's first U.S. tour since the Smiths (his first band) ambled through in '85. And it helped that the audience identified with the alienated ennui of his songs, applauding approvingly when, in "Every Day Is Like Sunday," Morrissey prayed, "Come, Armageddon!"
Whatever their reasons, it was obvious that the audience arrived pre-sold on Morrissey.