A crumbling LA landmark gets the fondest of farewells from an old friend
What with having had legends such as Frank Sinatra, Led Zeppelin, James Brown and The Rolling Stones grace its stage in times past, it’s hard to imagine a more fitting venue for Morrissey to “shut down”. Always the most obsessive of pop culture aficionados, word around town is that when the former Smith (and, until he moved to Rome in 2005, Los Angeleno) heard the crumbling auditorium was closing its doors for a major overhaul, he insisted on playing a 10-night residency to see the Hollywood Palladium off in style.
So here we are on opening night, stood amid some of Moz’s most devoted followers – in the main 20-something Latino rockabillies and 30-something Smiths addicts. Pulling no punches, their idol leads off with ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, sending waves of delight through everyone. Three decades into his career with nothing left to prove, tonight Moz is letting his hair down (metaphorically, of course – the quiff is still immaculately coiffured) and clearly enjoying himself immensely. Breezing through solo numbers ‘First Of The
Gang To Die’ and ‘Let Me Kiss You’, Smiths oldies ‘Stretch Out And Wait’, ‘Death Of A Disco Dancer’, and even two newies, ‘That’s How People Grow Up’ and ‘One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell’, replete with blaring trumpets, the crowd erupts after every song, to which Morrissey coolly responds, “It’s very mutual”.
Unafraid to share the spotlight, Morrissey then hands his mic into the crowd for an impromptu Q&A session. A young lad pipes up with, “We’re wondering why you love playing for us so much?” “Is that not obvious?” Morrissey responds, before launching into The Smiths’ ‘London’, after which he adds, “That is your answer.”
A strobe-lit, gong-augmented rendition of ‘How Soon Is Now?’ leaves Moz writhing on the floor at the night’s end, and, just when it seems things couldn’t get any better, he and his band re-emerge wearing the red, white and blue uniforms of California-based Mexican-American football team Chivas USA for ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’. “We’ll do anything to be popular,” quips Moz, knowing full well he’s just won over all two remaining disbelievers.