Throughout his career, both as the singer of the legendary British alt-pop band, The Smiths, as well as the 25 years he has spent as a solo artist, Morrissey has carved out a niche as one of the most enigmatic and enduring performers to come out of the 1980s. His live shows are musical events, filled with some of the most devoted fans in all of music and performances that are nearly therapeutic in their intensity both for the performer and the fans alike. Just one day after selling out the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Morrissey offered fans a rare chance at an intimate gig by performing at Hollywood High School. The 1,800 seats sold out in 12 seconds and Morrissey filmed the show, which is now available as Morrissey - 25 Live.
The show mixes tracks from Morrissey's Smiths days, to material spanning his entire solo career. Exquisitely filmed, with great close-ups of both Morrissey and his fans, one not only gets a sense of the intimacy of the show, but also the love shared between the artist and his fans. The show opens, appropriately enough, with "Alma Matters," a track that finds Morrissey giving a dreamy vocal over jangly guitars and driving drums.
"Ouija Board, Ouija Board" is a dramatic number with an intricate harpsichord and guitar intro. Distorted guitars and feedback soon add to the mix, all while remaining melodic. On "Maladjusted," the band goes psychedelic, with wah pedals, heavy guitars and drums, contrasting nicely with the melodic pop of "You're The One For Me Fatty."
Of course it wouldn't be a Morrissey show without a healthy dose of the dramatic and bleak and nowhere is that more apparent than on the pro-vegetarian anthem, "Meat Is Murder." Menacing tones, animal sounds and images and red and white strobes along with lyrics such as "KFC is murder" hammer the singer's point home. Whether one agrees with the message or not, no one can dispute the track's potency. Anyone who has ever felt insecure can certainly relate to the lyrics of "Let Me Kiss You." When he sings, "Close your eyes and think of someone you physically admire and let me kiss you," he becomes the person who doubts his or her appearance is good enough to attract a partner, a feeling many people experience.
A trio of power pop songs -- "Action is My Middle Name," "Everyday Is Like Sunday" and "I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris provide some of the show's biggest highlights. Less successful is a version of "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" that doesn't really go anywhere. He finishes the show with a strong "The Boy With The Thorn In His Side," reaching out to touch as many fans of his as possible.
The Blu-ray is presented in 1080p High Definition Widescreen 16x9 (1.85:1) and looks great. Audio options include LPCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio. The Blu-ray includes several bonus features, including a four song, live in the studio set and behind the scenes footage.
Morrissey remains one of pop music's most unique performers. He's crafted an impressive career with an adoring fan base to show for it. For fans of the singer, owning Morrissey - 25 Live is a no-brainer.