Thursday, 14 May 2009
Now my throat is sore
It's got to be a tough life being Morrissey. After all, there are a lot of people that hate you with a startling amount of venom, the smell of burning animal flesh at festivals sickens you, and David Cameron has 'fessed up to being a fan. Oh, and you keep getting ill all the time. Heaven knows you're miserable now.
Morrissey seems to be gaining a bit of a reputation for illness these days. On Monday and Wednesday this week, he cancelled dates at London's Royal Albert Hall and Brimingham Symphony Hall - dates for which it is yet to be announced whether there will be rescheduling or not. This is on top of the cancellation of the start of his world tour in the US, and the three out of six shows at the Roundhouse which were cancelled last January.
This might not sound like too much, but 11 dates from a 100-odd date tour equates to about 10% of the tour being cancelled. It's little wonder that fans are unsurprised at every new cancellation which is announced, especially as the given excuse is usually "illness" or "throat trouble".
Granted he's getting on a bit in musical terms: the man is almost 50, so of course he's slowing up. He's not the only artist to be plagued with recurring health issues. But not all ageing musicians have problems performing. 51-year-old Nick Cave, for example, is still performing storming two-hour sets with seemingly no problem. And, as an ex-heroin addict, I'm sure he's ravaged his body far more than Morrissey ever has.
Everybody gets ill from time to time; I by no means dispute this fact. I do dispute, however, that it is the norm among artists to have cancelled four concerts within the space of 18 months within the same city. Maybe I'm cursed with bad luck (having travelled from Cardiff to London for this week's RAH show and the first of last year's cancelled Roundhouse shows, I have yet to witness Morrissey play a full set), but I do question why he bothers scheduling so many shows within a fairly short spaces of time when it's questionable that he'll be able to fulfil the commitment. Six shows within seven days is bound to strain your voice; if you're already prone to throat problems, why risk it?
I understand that days off on tour are essentially days for which crew are paid to do nothing; they aren't an efficient way of spending money. However, is it really any more efficient to try and cram in as many dates as possible, resulting in cancelled shows? Tickets have to be refunded and the crew still have to be paid; it's just as economically wasteful as a day off. I don't know much about venue protocol, but I'm assuming that the venue would also require at least some fee. So even worse than a day off, really. Maybe a few days off here and there to avoid tour burn-out aren't so wasteful, after all.
When it comes down to it, though, I guess his "people" can afford to take the chance - people will keep buying the tickets and taking their chances. Standing tickets for the Royal Albert Hall sold out in literally the time it took me to fill out the order form; I was unsuccessful in obtaining anything other than seated tickets, despite being online as soon as the tickets were released. The demand was obviously there, especially with Morrissey's frequent hints that he won't be carrying on in music much longer.
These threats may be no more than smoke and mirrors, but you can never quite be sure with him - almost every album or tour is invariably rumoured to be his last. With his latest single, 'Something is Squeezing my Skull', however, only reaching #46 in the charts (apparently leading to it having been dropped from his set) there has been forum speculation that the chart-obsessed Morrissey is sulking.
As for me, I'll be on eBay, seeking tickets for the London dates at the end of this month and praying it's third time lucky.
The Smiths - There is a Light that Never Goes Out
Oh, and kudos to anyone who 'got' what I was doing in the title of this post...