Contrary to that sentiment, however, the notorious malcontent seemed exceptionally at ease, both with himself and his audience. Over the course of a tidy, 100-minute set that featured 20 songs – five by his former (and evidently never-to-be-again) band, the Smiths – he teased his enraptured fans, whipped up dust devils with his microphone cord, pounded percussion on his chest as if to soothe his heart palpitations, lay down fetally in the spotlight and otherwise thoroughly entertained himself at the lip of the stage, where he was so clearly born to live out his years.
The band – longtime collaborator (“the gorgeous”) Boz Boorer, bassist Solomon Walker, keyboardist Gustavo Manzur, guitarist Jesse Tobias and new drummer Anthony Burulcich (of the Bravery) – took the stage like henchmen in their trademark matching T-shirts, which on this night read “Ringling Beats Animals.” (Earlier this week, when they performed on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, each bore the word “Thug.”)
Not for the last time of the night, “Maladjusted” underscored just how much eerie psychedelia Morrissey’s band can often muster beneath the frontman’s sui generis vocal style. The Smiths’ “Meat Is Murder” came across like an especially bad trip, with Burulcich pounding mallets on a huge kettle drum and Tobias’ guitar mewling like animals in the slaughterhouse while gruesome bits of PETA’s anti-carnivore film “Meet Your Meat” screened overhead.
Morrissey will perform at the Chicago Theater on October 27, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.