Morrissey surprises fans expecting mopey lyrics

For anyone who has listened to the music of Morrissey, both as a solo artist and as a member of his previous band, The Smiths, last night's show at Merriweather Post Pavilion provided some surprises.

Morrissey, known primarily as England's chief exporter of mope rock lyrics during the '80s with songs like "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now" and "Unloveable," might seem most content to stand center stage wearing black as if waiting for a funeral procession.


Yet, his mood was anything but morbid last night.

As many in the wild throng of more than 12,000 fans rained freshly picked flowers upon him, Morrissey danced and swayed and even touched the outstretched arms of most members of the first five rows. He even smiled and laughed.


His band -- a four-man troupe sporting pompadours and a rockabilly sound complete with stand-up bass -- was even more festive, leading their leader into much of the material from his three-album catalog of solo material.

While many in the crowd may have come to hear The Smiths' classics, solo work like "Interesting Drug" (the show opener) and "Sing Your Life" (the current single) appeared to have more than satisfied the appetite.

Morrissey provided nothing from The Smiths but did take time to perform a pair of covers -- "That's Entertainment" and the New York Dolls' classic "Trash."

More than the mopey lyrics of his early work with The Smiths, Morrissey's solo material has taken on an almost tongue-in-cheek approach, with songs like "The Last Of The International Playboys" and "Will Never Marry" being contained in the same set. Of course, to get the joke, you would have to know that Morrissey has said on several occasions that he is celibate.

But whether the crowd got the joke wasn't the point. The audience stood captivated for the entire 18-song, 75-minute show and never stopped swaying. Morrissey obviously accomplished his goal.