IN today’s bland world of pop music, Morrissey is one of a kind.
Never dull, the man born Steven Morrissey into a working-class Irish immigrant family in Manchester, has spent the past 35 years creating an artistic brand of pop music outside mainstream convention.
A literary marvel, indie icon, loner, narcissist and a dark humorist - Morrissey is a performer that has always perplexed with his multitude of contradictions.
The former Smiths singer is a polarising figure, but his influence cannot be denied. Bands like Radiohead, Oasis, Blur, The National and Arcade Fire are indebted to his music.
What other rock star would declare himself celibate, despite being a sex symbol? Has there ever been a lyricist who has articulated sexual frustration and ambiguity better?
“Unfortunately, I am not homosexual,” Morrissey once said. “In technical fact, I am humasexual. I am attracted to humans. But, of course, not many.”
On Monday night the “Pope of Mope” will make his Newcastle debut at the Civic Theatre. It’s a coup for Newcastle given Morrissey is playing just five dates in Australia and has bypassed Sydney and Brisbane.
The reviews from the Melbourne and Adelaide shows have indicated the 57-year-old is in fine form on his tour to promote 2014 album World Peace Is None Of Your Business. He’s even playing a Smiths song or two.
Morrissey came to fame in the ‘80s as the singer of seminal indie band The Smiths. Mythology surrounds the band’s formation. The story goes young Mancunian guitar maestro Johnny Marr knocked on the door of the reclusive Morrissey in 1982 asking to form a band.
They swiftly built arguably the best UK songwriting duo outside of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, through Marr’s innovative music and Morrissey’s poetic words.
In five years the partnership spawned classic albums Meat Is Murder, The Queen Is Dead and Strangeways, Here We Come and singles like How Soon Is Now, This Charming Man, Big Mouth Strikes Again and Panic.
Despite breaking up in 1987, The Smiths remain one of British rock’s most influential acts and regularly top music polls for bands people want to see reform.
Morrissey is ardently against a reunion and in 2006 declared, “I would rather eat my own testicles than reform The Smiths, and that's saying something for a vegetarian.”
“Mozza” the solo artist has also delivered plenty of gold over the years. Tracks like Suedehead and Everyday Is Like Sunday have continued to entertain with their cutting wit, melancholy and political commentary.
Unfortunately Morrissey refused interviews for his latest tour, because he’s one of music’s most entertaining talking heads. He is renown for speaking out against the British royal family, modern pop music and animal cruelty.
Morrissey on grooming: “I do maintain that if your hair is wrong, your entire life is wrong.” On passion: “The fire in the belly is essential, otherwise you become Michael Buble – famous and meaningless.”
And lastly on Beyonce: “The rhino is now more or less extinct, and it’s not because of global warming or shrinking habitats. It’s because of Beyonce’s handbags.” Enough said.
Morrissey plays the Civic Theatre on Monday night.