|Mozarmy Meet pin 2015|
Just like your average Breakfast Champion, The Star and Garter pub has character. It's an old building (1800s) that reminds me a little of the Adams Family house. When I walked in, I felt like I was walking into someone's living room. Just a warm atmosphere. I suppose, the people already there for the meet up, helped to fuel that atmosphere.
So again, kind of strange in a very GOOD way to see familiar faces that I had NEVER physically met. Just a familiar picture I had seen from a Twitter avatar. Or someone asked, "What is your Twitter handle?" And then I responded and they said, "Oh. Yeah. Nice to meet you."
One of the first people I spoke to was Stefan Krix. Yes, I had met him at the pub the night before, yes, he was on the tour bus but I hadn't really had the chance to chat about much until then. I learned that he is from the Ruhr part of Germany and it probably took him quite a number of hours to get to Manchester. When he described where he was from, an industrial town, I could see (and he admitted) it was similar in some ways to Manchester. Maybe that is one reason why he could relate so well to The Smiths and Morrissey.
I also chatted briefly with Adrianna. Maybe I should have been embarrassed when I noted that her best friend looks kind of like John Cryer during the Duckie years (Pretty in Pink). I probably wisely didn't mention the numerous times I had discussed Duckie and a teenage lust, and admiration for him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with other female Breakfast Champions.
In addition to faraway faces, we saw some from California, Mel Hidalgo and her partner were there and although we had never met back home, it was a treat to chat a bit with someone from Los Angeles and who was sharing in this new experience.
I brought my digital SLR camera with me to England for this trip in the hopes that I would be taking many high quality pictures. And the thing is, I got some great shots, but I think you really have to decide if you want to take pictures or socialize and be involved. Taking a lot of photos requires a bit of distance. You aren't as involved. But I wanted to socialize AND take pictures which basically meant that I was never any one place for very long. And I forgot to take my own picture with some great people when I had the chance.
Once sufficient time had passed meeting and greeting, things got started upstairs. The entertainment began with a brilliant dialogue between "cardboard Morrissey" (created by Andy Barnett, voice by Jose Maldonado) and Julie Hamill, followed by a wonderful, intimate acoustic set by Jose.
After that, people were dancing and milling about. I went downstairs to get another drink and see what Stephanie was up to. While there, I got a good shot of Jose and Julie.
I think Jose was getting ready to perform with the Mozarmy house band-James Barton, Owen Burns, Conor MacCloughlin and Andrew Parisi was playing drums, of course. I was fortunate enough to be in the right place when Julie introduced me to Andrew and we chatted awhile before they went on stage. He was a very down to earth kind of person. Very real. I was struck by the fact that he truly loves Morrissey's music. I didn't get the impression that he just played with Morrissey and that's as far as it went. He's a fan.
After Julie told Andrew that it was time to go on and perform, she introduced me to Simon Wolstencroft. I bought a copy of his book,You Can Drum But You Can't Hide) and we chatted a bit before and after signing it. He talked openly about his brief time playing with The Smiths and his time in the Manchester music scene during the 80s and 90s. He had a lot of fascinating stories to tell and much of it is included in his book. Just like Andrew Parisi it was clear that he too, is fan of Morrissey's music and lyrics.
I suddenly realized I was missing Jose and the Mozarmy band playing so I ran up the stairs. I missed some of the set. But it was obvious to me they had taken the audience by storm and it was amazing to watch. A guy who I had overheard at the start of the evening say, "I hate cover bands." was dancing and singing and yelling for more in between songs. You COULD say it was the beer but I maintain that it was the music combined with Jose's stellar performance.
I'd be lying to you if I didn't admit to you that Jose was the star of the show. It's a privilege to be among the audience who has no idea really what to expect. Then to see them transform right before my very eyes.
In between songs they even chanted "Morrissey, Morrissey, Morrissey!"
So, what exactly does Jose do that makes his performance so damned special, you may ask? I could describe how he dances like Morrissey, how he has his moves down pat, I could also tell you that he puts in his own artful interpretation,I could tell you how much he actually sounds like Morrissey, I could tell you all those things that I am sure I have stated before in other posts. But one thing is most undeniable and that is Jose's passion for Morrissey's words and his love for the music are embodied in every move and song on the stage. I can't say it better than that.
That love and passion is given to the audience who welcome it with open arms. It was special to be in a room blasting Morrissey's words in the land where it all began, echoing through those "streets where he was raised" from a man who is from my part of the world-in Los Angeles, and expertly sharing that connection we feel.
I am posting a few numbers I recorded that evening to give you the sense of what it was like to be there that special night.
If you really want a better set of video to watch, I'd highly recommend The Mozarmy YouTube page. "Asleep" with Conor playing keys was just beautiful, very emotional. "Staircase at the University" was another that really stood out but I just didn't get video.
During the Mozarmy band performance, at one point I noticed a guy behind me that looked like Matthew Whitehouse from the band The Heartbreaks (who opened for Morrissey during his 2011 tour ?). We made eye contact and he smiled and I smiled. Then I said to him, "You look like the guy from The Heartbreaks."
"I AM the guy from The Heartbreaks. I'm Matthew Whitehouse."
We laughed and I acted all star struck which is unlike me.I remembered all these weird facts like that they are from Morecombe, for example. I told him he was unusual-looking (in a good way). Then, I walked away but I kept looking behind me and he smiled and I laughed and he laughed and it seemed like the joking was mutual, but I kind of think he must have wished he'd never made eye contact. Honestly. I think I looked at him more than would be considered normal.
I even dragged him over to meet Jose after his performance-even though he'd already met Jose. I think it was at the "I Love you, man" stage of the evening.
As I tell this part of the story, I feel compelled to assume the fetal position and put a blanket over my head. If Matthew Whitehouse never goes to another Mozarmy Meet or Manchester, for that matter, it's probably my fault.
After the live music (and Matthew Whitehouse had left), the DJ played more and more of our favorite songs and dancing and merriment continued. Donna Bishop (from Manchester and another favorite Breakfast Champion) was there and was dancing in full force the entire night.
I went downstairs and was getting ready to leave when I saw Julie and she said, "We need to have a dance." So we went back upstairs and when I turned around Julie was nowhere. She obviously was stopped on the way up for a chat with someone or other. So I danced with two lovely young men, George and Chris. I saw other people I know, like Vanessa and Euan and I danced with them briefly but just a mass of dancing people. Fun dancing people!
In addition to a wonderful night had by all the sold out event raised quite a lot of money to help keep The Star and Garter going!