Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shine at the Shrine

Morrissey from our actually awesome seats at the Shrine in Los Angeles
 My Evening with Morrissey (and a few other people)
I have to disappoint you this time. Nothing bizarre occurred on our drive to Los Angeles to see . . . BUM BUM BUM BUM . . . HIM. It was totally uneventful. Roland and I had a very necessary conversation about Enrique's grades that have dropped a little. (Although, he likes to be called Joe now).I will not bore you with it, but even had we glanced up, we would have seen nothing but cars, trees and lights. Not a sign of Jesus this time.

We did see a lot of USC fans when we exited the freeway.

We arrived early. I knew we needed to since UCLA and USC were playing in a football game and they are HUGE rivals so it was pretty busy along the road. We parked up and then made our way downstairs to the street and to find a bite to eat.

We ended up at an Italian place to eat. It was one of those places that is kind of like fast food, but isn't, where you have to place your order and then they bring it to your table but the food is not cheap and horrible like in a real fast food place. You got the sense that it was family owned and not a part of a huge chain. So it had kind of neighborhood charm, if you know what I mean.

USC vs. Morrissey
When we made our way to the Shrine, we saw quite clearly that all the people in black were heading to the Shrine to see Morrissey and all the people in red and yellow were headed to the Colosium to see the game. It was almost striking as we turned the corner and the USC people kept going straight.

I was probably the only Morrissey fan wearing USC colors. Silly me. I did not even realize when I left.

Waiting at the Shrine in USC red (me)
The Building
The Shrine has in interesting history and like most historic buildings, is lovely to look at. I did not take a photo because I only had my phone with no flash so its kind of difficult to take decent pictures. To take a good picture I would also need to be further away from it-not standing right in front of it.

Its actually a building that houses a branch of the Masonic Temple, which was why there was a huge picture of a man wearing a fez on the wall when we walked in. I tried to take a picture but it did not come out very well because it was one of those pictures that has a light behind it. Again, I had poor photo equipment. Anyway, part of King Kong was filmed in the theater and the Academy Awards were held here for a time as well. The Shrine has been there since the 1920s, which isn't very long if you are from Europe but undeniably long if you are from California.

Don't Leave Home With . . .
Before we entered the Shrine there was a huge list of things we were not allowed to bring in the venue, I mean HUGE. Basically, you could bring your wallet and some lipstick. I had some Halloween candy in my purse and I had to throw it away-it was for Oliver. I also had to throw away my water but I gave it to a palm tree who might have been thirsty. Then I had to be frisked in case I brought in any contraband, This was another reason it was good to get there early. I can't even imagine how long the wait would have been to get in when they had to frisk people one at a time. They had more than one line, but still. It was sold out and the venue holds over 6000 people! Eeek!

 7" Vinyl
We shaed a glass-or plastic cup-of wine before looking over the PETA table. They had some cool stickers so I stuck on a Meat is Murder sticker since I thought it was most appropriate. Then I wanted to check out the merchandise. Here is where I show I am not that great of a fan since I did not buy anything. It came at the end of the month before Christmas and I have three kids. I just didn't see the point. Roland and I laughed because there was a huge cardboard cut out of Morrissey naked except a 7" vinyl record that was autographed and someone asked where it was signed. The guy working had to look it over so carefully to find where Morrissey had signed it. We thought it would be great if the 7" vinyl were removable Velcro and he had signed it under the record.

One piece of merchandise I loved was the shopping bag that said, "Shop lifters of the world unite." But I just did not want to spend money I don't really have. Perhaps I should have done the most ironic thing and shop shoplifted the bag.

Our Seats
I knew we were in the nose bleed section and that there is no way that I would make any sort of eye contact with Morrissey from where I was, but it turned out that while we were up on the balcony, we were just above where the man who operates the projector was set up. There was nothing in front of us, therefore, when other people were standing, we were able to see perfectly. We even had an iron bar in front of us to lean on. Life is good.

Shrine on
 We were earthquakingly close to the giant chandalier. Didn't want to think about it.

Kristeen Young
I love getting to a gig early not just to take in the atmosphere and avoid ugly traffic, but to see the opening act. In this case it was a beautiful and talented woman by the name of Kristeen Young. She is kind of avant garde in her demeanor and yet kind of retro. I am mainly referring to her appearance but perhaps the same can be said for her music although only those two words could not do her justice.

I feel kind of sorry for the opening act. After all, most of the time people aren't there to see them. They are like the appetizer to a large entree. And out walked this extremely brave woman playing keyboards on her own with no band. Just her and her voice.

It was kind of 80s like Kate Bush, I guess. An amazing voice. When I saw that she just had keyboards I grew concerned. The last time I saw a solo performer with keyboards was at Tiangle Square in Costa Mesa with Roland. There was a kind of sad closet musician playing electronica from the 80s. Bad electronica in a sad voice. It was like he had been locked away in his room listening to the stuff he was singing and decided to venture out one night on a whim. He mustered up enough courage to perform live (for free) at this soon to be abandoned shopping center. The people in charge probably thought they'd give the place one last hurrah before bailing. Anyway, you get the picture of my hesitation towards Kristeen Young.

She was fun to watch and she had some incredible songs lyrically and musically. This may not sound like a complement but she was not sad at all. She was energetic. Big contrast from Sad 80s Man.

Video Treat
While Kristeen was putting away her keyboards, etc., we were treated to some videos from the past-no doubt either chosen by our hero or else selected by someone who knows his taste well. Some of the artists were The New York Dolls, and Bridget Bardot. It culminated with an interview with author Shelagh Delany who recently passed away. She wrote the screenplay for the movie A Taste of Honey and she is a prime influence in Morrissey's life. I can't remember all of the artists since its been a few days now (I am writing this portion on 12/5). I can tell you that it was getting us filled with anticipation to see Morrissey. We knew he was up next. 

The Main Course
I can't tell you how happy I was to finally see Morrissey. There he was. Only 100 feet away from me. I thought about how long I have wanted to see him, be in the same room-all the near misses-and there I was. There we were. 

I don't want to go through the set list because I think that's pretty boring. But he started appropriately with I Want the One I Can't Have. Its difficult to pass unbiased judgment on your hero. I mean, he could have sauntered in and sang horribly off key and told me to go screw myself and I probably would have thought it was amazing. But he wasn't anywhere near that. The first song was quite energetic which was perfect since we had pent up energy ready to unfold with all our anticipation.

Oddly enough, as he was singing this first song, one of my colleagues from Tustin High happened to be there sitting nearby and she saw us and said hello. I am pretty amazed because the Shrine was sold out. We were packed into our seats like sardines. Hmm. Maybe if she saw me, Morrissey did!

I think the most memorable songs for me were Throwing My Arms Around Paris, Satellite of  Love, and Meat is Murder. But every song had something in the performance that made it special. Satellite of Love is a song by Lou Reed (of The Velvet Underground). I just like the way Morrissey sings it. Then, Meat is Murder, well, its just a powerful song. I couldn't actually watch the images in the background. I know they were images of slaughterhouses and what happens to your "food" before it arrives in your kitchen or on your plate. I just can't look. Some people were offended by Morrissey's comments about Thankskilling, but if you are there to see Morrissey you should know his stand on this issue. What harm is there in knowing where your food comes from? Perhaps we would be more grateful on Thanksgiving if we knew the sacrifices animals endured for our consumption. Its something we have a responsibility to think about.

Typically, Morrissey performs no more than an hour and a half. He says because his voice begins to get thrashed since he does all the singing pretty much. Its too hard on his vocal chords. So, he stopped and sadly there was no encore. I think it may have been because the security was not keeping most people off the stage during the last song Still Ill. No encore-no shirtless Morrissey tossing his sweaty shirt to the crowd although he did change his shirt. Good intentions, but no follow through.

Roland and I just sat in our seats starring at the stage as people began to clear it. Mouths agape. Lights on. Finally a security man reminded us that we needed to leave now. So we did.

To Mal or Not to Mal
Although we were tired, I wanted to attend an after concert event near the Shrine at a place called Mal's. It was DJed by Jose Maldonado, who heads a great Smiths cover band and a radio show on Indie 103. Roland was not interested, but I felt like, Hell, we've got a babysitter. When was the last time I stayed out until 12? But when we arrived in a very secluded part of town-complete with industrial businesses and trash containers perfect for tossing bodies, we discovered that we did not have money for the cover charge. No ATM close enough and we did not want to fight that USC traffic so we hopped on the freeway and headed homeish.

I was beaming even days after. It was such a memorable event for me.

On one of the Morrissey pages on Facebook someone posted that Morrissey had been to The Olde Shippe in Santa Ana (very close to me). I guess I would have felt worse had I not been to the concert. After all, I suspect its possible, just barely possible he was looking right at me . . .


Someone with better seats filmed the concert. Here is Satellite of Love:


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