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Review: Morrissey 25 Live

Morrissey celebrates 25 years as a solo artist... and things get more than a little bizarre!

Morrissey makes people go a bit funny. A friend leant his hairdresser his first Morrissey album on Friday. By Monday he had a Morrissey tattoo. There's a fascinating documentary to be made about Morrissey fans – and, although 25:LIVE is a straightforward concert film, where it really comes alive is when the fans speak. Because they're quite... unique.

Morrissey throws a microphone into the crowd. “I'd like to thank you for the lessons you've taught me and my children,” a woman sobs. “Are you up to this?” Morrissey demands of another fan, like a silver fox cult leader. The man gulps and replies “Tonight, you belong to history.” A third thanks him for blessing them with the gift of living.

However, this isn't a film about Morrissey's fans. It's a filmed concert, and, given his recent health issues, has already the air about it of a historical document. It's a chance to see the moody Messiah at his finest – songs, shirts, and charisma. “This microphone is my tombstone” he announces at one point. At another he sinks in supplication before a cow.

All the classic Morrissey is there, vegetarianism, politics and sexual ambivalence. “You're the one for me, fatty,” he sings, while behind him his buff backing group show off their biceps. But it's the fans who dominate this film, and Morrissey's vague bemusement at them. They pass stuff up for him to bless – albums, dead flowers, magazines and children.

“Where are you going after this?” he asks them. “For what? For what?” He seems genuinely baffled. The camera keeps catching the same fans in the audience – the sobbing woman with nice hair, the man with a pierced nose. The sobbing woman mouths along to the songs like a proud parent coaching her child through the nativity play.

At the end of the concert they try and rush the stage. It's truly bizarre cinema, desperate figures surging from the crowd, eager to touch his hem, before being whisked roughly away by burly security guards (footage of bruised vegetarians sobbing in a gutter not shown).

After the concert, one fan is asked what she thought of it. “I've seen him 80 times,” she says, before thinking for a moment, “And I would place this in the top five.” She then lists her top five. Of course she does. “I can die happy now,” says another fan, while his friend nods solemnly, as though making the arrangements.

The film is released 24 August. For more information, check out the Morrissey 25 website here

Words: James Goss

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