By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The atmosphere inside Brady Theater was a combination of tent revival and prison riot. Morrissey could have asked the crowd to rip the joint apart, and they would have done it gladly. On several occasions, mayhem threatened to erupt even without his instruction. What seemed to be moshing, on closer inspection, turned out to be kids simply trying to get close enough to shake hands with the singer or give him a hug. It didn't matter that their attempts were doomed from the beginning and would probably only succeed in getting them kicked out. To them, the opportunity was worth the risk. When an audience member finally succeeded in slipping by the hulking bouncers and giving Morrissey a hug--causing the singer to kneel in the middle of the stage for more than a minute--the floodgates threatened to open. Unfortunately, no one else got the chance.
The show ended with yet another Smiths song, "Shoplifters of the World Unite," after which most of the crowd ran outside to the back door, hoping again for a bit of contact. They were disappointed once again when Morrissey's tour bus pulled up next to the door, spoiling any and all chances.
Though Morrissey hadn't toured the United States in five years--the concert in Tulsa was five years to the day of his last appearance in Dallas--and was ostensibly here to promote his new album, only two songs from Maladjusted found their way onto the set list: "Alma Matters" and the theatrical "Ambitious Outsiders." A majority of the songs (seven) was taken from 1994's stellar Vauxhall and I.
Almost as strange as the set list was Morrissey's decision not to play a Dallas date. After all, in 1991 he released a video of one of his concerts filmed at Dallas' Starplex and the Dallas area has always been a Morrissey/Smiths stronghold. Was it because Morrissey's records no longer receive substantial (read: any) airplay on Dallas radio stations? The same could be said for many of the cities on his itinerary, and local station KDGE (94.5 FM) is home to one of Morrissey's biggest supporters in the United States, The Adventure Club's host, Josh Venable.
Venable not only made the trip to Tulsa, he also went to Lawrence, Kansas, the next night to see Morrissey again. In Lawrence, Venable got to do what so many of the audience members in Tulsa longed to do: give Morrissey a hug. After lurking outside of the hotel where the singer was staying, Venable finally got a chance to meet Morrissey, something he had been waiting to do for more than seven years.
"I started crying--I guess because it meant so much to me. He pulled away, and I told him that I loved him, and acting modest he said, 'No you don't,'" said Venable, who played every song on the Tulsa set list the following Sunday on The Adventure Club. "I said, 'No, you don't understand. This is something I've always wanted to say to you. I love you.' He was genuinely touched by it, and started to tear up as well. I think he was a little embarrassed for having shown some emotion, and also a little embarrassed for me because I was acting like I was 12 years old at a New Kids [on the Block] concert."
It's that kind of devotion that led many people to make the drive north to Tulsa. Morrissey's popularity may have waned in the past few years on both sides of the Atlantic, but still many people out there still think of the singer as a soul mate, the only one who truly understands them. And for that reason, no matter what the charts say, Morrissey still matters.