By Ed Power
Sometimes he just can’t help himself. In front of what was by all accounts an adoring Scottish crowd, Morrissey opened the latest leg of his Low In High School tour by making disparaging remarks about SNP leader Nichola Sturgeon. Boos and walk-outs ensued. What was up his sleeve by way of encore in Dublin?
Happily, Controversial Moz had the evening off. Instead, the healthy attendance – the audience much larger than that which turned out for his previous show at the same venue – was treated to an evening by turns nostalgic, bloody minded and self-satisfied, but never less than thoroughly entertaining.
The former Smiths frontman remains a figure of almost cultish worship among those of a certain generation and it was curious to see so many in their 40s, 50s (and older) visibly reconnecting with their vulnerable teenage selves. The emotions rose to a swell early on as the Manchester-Irish singer and his rumbustious rockabilly band plunged into supremely arch Smiths’ staple 'I Started Something I Couldn’t Finish', followed by 'Suedehead', the 1988 post-Smiths hit that hinted at a solo potential Morrissey never quite fulfilled.
There was some cleverness. “You look nervous,” the 58-year-old ventured early on. “Have you been reading the newspapers?”. The line was delivered in turbo-charged laconic fashion and the suspicion lingered that Morrissey enjoys preening and shadowboxing with his people as much as throwing his head back and singing.
Chunks of the set were given over to Low in High School, a solid collection recorded in Italy and France, yet flecked in an emotional drizzle more redolent of Morrissey’s northern England. 'Who Will Protect Us From The Police?' felt like an unlikely contribution to the Black Lives Matter debate (Moz has a huge fanbase among the Latino community of Los Angeles) while 'Jacky’s Only Happy When She’s Up On Stage' and 'When You Open Your Legs' fell into the classic Morrissey trap in which the title is better than the song.
Occasionally you could sense the crowd’s patience wavering, though he brought his public back onside with seaside lament 'Everyday Is Like Sunday' and pugilistic 2004 single 'Irish Blood, English Heart'. Morrissey often seemed very pleased with himself indeed – but this was nonetheless a quiff-hanger to remember.