This year, when the summer concert schedules came out, I saw that Morrissey was playing at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. I wouldn't have normally been that interested.
For one thing, while the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium is a nice venue in which to watch a show, it's a physically difficult place for me to see one. This is because there is literally no parking anywhere near the stadium, meaning that Denise and I would have to take the Long Island Railroad to get there (and go through all the rigmarole of switching trains at Jamaica, etc.), and because once you walk the couple of blocks between the Railroad and the stadium, you then enter through a gate and make a long walk all the way around the perimeter of the stadium to get to the entry point. (And all of this is usually in the summer heat.)
The other reason for my disinterest was Morrissey himself. I happen to love The Smiths. They're one of my favorite bands. But let's face it, their former lead singer, Morrissey is a bit of a pinhead. He has a longtime reputation for being very temperamental, occasionally walking out of concerts in a snit when the crowd does something that displeases him, and sometimes not even showing up if he has a hangnail or a blister on his pinky toe. He's also not very fan-friendly in his choice of setlists. He wants to sing what he wants to sing, and let the tastes of the ticket-buying public be damned. And this isn't even taking into his account his love of making outrageous statements (at one point, he was advocating the murder of either the Queen or Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, I forget which), and he's also known for his militant veganism. I'm not someone who has a lot of patience with buying tickets to listen to a scold.
I've also found his solo career to be very uneven. I liked a lot of his earlier stuff. But the last album of his I listened to (I couldn't even tell you what it was, Denise had it in her car), was distinctly mediocre. His lyrics, which used to be fairly clever, and often pretty funny, seemed to have just become whiny. So I just haven't paid him much attention in the last decade, and have, instead, concentrated on enjoying the solo career of Morrissey's old bandmate, Johnny Marr.
But this summer's Morrissey tour had one very nice sweetener added to it that made me reconsider -- Interpol was the opening act. I won't say they're one of my very favorite bands, but they're a band I like enough that I always pick up their latest album. This is the case even though I find them to be a little uneven -- I liked their first two LPs better than anything they've done since then. But there's usually at least a few songs on every one of their albums that I like.
So when I saw that Morrissey and Interpol were coming around this summer, I gave serious consideration to buying a ticket.
Unfortunately for me, their New York stop was scheduled for the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, which, as I said, I usually hesitate to buy tickets for. And it was also scheduled on a Saturday on which I had an early morning staff meeting scheduled for my job. I have one of these meetings on the first Saturday of every month, and they wipe me out physically. This is because my usual sleep schedule tends to be roughly from 4AM to noon. So getting up at 7:30AM to get into Queens by 9 makes me useless for the rest of the day. So I decided to pass on this show.
Then one day, Denise came bouncing home from work to tell me she had gone ahead and bought tickets for the show. They were running a special where they were selling tickets for $25 a piece, so she had just gone ahead and bought four of them. At first, I was a little taken aback. Then, I started thinking that I really haven't taken any time off from my job since I first took it about two years ago. So I worked it out with them, and scheduled to miss the staff meeting and go instead to the concert that day.
Then I got screwed over by The Mets.
My job had scheduled an outing for everybody to go to a Mets game in mid-September. Then the Mets confounded everyone, went on a hot streak, and improbably got themselves back into playoff contention. So the nice Sunday afternoon game we had bought tickets for got turned into a Sunday night name when ESPN decided to make it the Sunday Night Game of the Week. This messed up our outing, as we had people coming from as far away as Albany. They offered us another date later in September. However, that game was scheduled for a late afternoon on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, which would have meant all of our Jewish employees would have probably had to have left the game early in order to be home in time for sundown. So eventually, we wound up with a game against the Phillies on September 8, the day after the Morrissey concert.
Now for me to do a concert at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium at this point in my life -- well, I can do it, but I really need the whole next day to recover. There was no way I could do the show at the Tennis Stadium, and then be back in Queens by 1PM the next day for a Mets game. I sounded out my son, to see how much he wanted to attend the game -- his interest had seemed a little tepid when I first asked him about the tickets. But he said that he really wanted to go.
At first, I was going to try to do both. But then I talked it over with Denise, and decided that if she could get friends who were interested in going to the concert with her, I'd skip the Morrissey concert. I was a little disappointed, as I'd have liked to have seen the show. But I was also relieved, as I know it would have been a physically difficult day. So I told my job I'd be there for that Saturday morning staff meeting after all, and Denise arranged to go to the Morrissey concert with LeeAnne from her WLIR Facebook group, LeeAnne's friend Roberta, and our old friend Rich Da Drumma.
As it turned out, I could have gone after all. Come Sunday morning, my son wasn't feeling well (possibly because he'd been up much too late the night before.) I could have probably guilted him into going to the game if I'd have tried. But I'd just learned the night before that the U.S. Open Tennis tournament was still ongoing (they used to finish the damned thing on Labor Day weekend, but I guess at some point in recent years they started letting it bleed into the next week.) So I knew that parking for the Mets game was going to be a zoo, and I was dreading it. So I let him sleep in at his request, and watched the game on TV. (As I'm typing this, the Mets just tied the game 4-4.)
It might be just as well. I don't know if I'm fit company to be around my workmates (and their kids) at a Mets game. I'm better than I used to be -- when the Mets played the Yankees in the World Series a few years back, I had to stop watching the games because I got myself so worked up, I thought I was literally going to have to go the Emergency Room. I couldn't breathe right, and my heart was pounding so fast, I thought I was having a heart attack. I had to watch the last two games in the series by watching a TV show with Denise, then switching to the game during commercials to check on the score. As I said, ever since then, I'm calmer than I used to be. But I still curse a lot when the Mets make a stupid play (and they make a lot of stupid plays). And I think if Mickey Callaway had put in Edwin Diaz to screw up another game, I just might have left the stadium in handcuffs. That's probably not something you want to do in front of your boss.
Meanwhile, Denise and her merry crew enjoyed the concert a lot. They took the railroad into Forest Hills, ate at a burger place nearby, then trekked into the stadium. They had the joy of taking that long walk around the stadium twice, as when they made the walk the first time, they were informed at the entrance that one of the women would have to go back and pay $5 for the privilege of checking her bag, because Morrissey had some kind of clause in his contract that said that people could only bring in small bags. (I seem to remember he's had some trouble in the past with people throwing things at him.)
Nevertheless, they had a cool, comfortable night weather-wise for an outdoor show. Denise reported that she thinks there might have been almost as many people there to see Interpol as there were to see Morrissey -- when Interpol was on, the crowd was really into them, and a lot of people were happily singing along.
However, she also said that Morrissey's set was really good. He was in fine voice, and apparently, for this show, anyway, he played nice with the crowd.
I looked at the playlist on setlist.fm, and I would have disappointed with the show. He performed very few Smiths songs -- just "The Joke Isn't Funny Anymore", and then "How Soon Is Now" as the last song of his encore. And he didn't perform a number of my favorites of his solo hits, including "The Last of the Famous International Playboy", "Ouija Board, Ouija Board", "Piccadilly Palare", and maybe most surprising of all, "Suedehead".
(Oops, the Mets just gave up three runs and let the Phillies go ahead. Pretty sure I'd have made a spectacle of myself and gotten fired by now!)
But Denise and her group enjoyed the show anyway. Denise had gone up on setlist.fm earlier in the week, and had made herself a playlist of the stuff he was playing, a lot of which she liked, so she was at least familiar with the material he was performing. And he did a number of interesting covers (some of which are on his most recent albums), including "Wedding Bell Blues" (which Laura Nyro wrote, but I always think of it as a Fifth Dimension song), "Lady Willpower" (an old Gary Puckett and the Union Gap song), and "Back on the Chain Gang" (a Pretenders cover).
Now I always say that if a star is going to perform a setlist that doesn't include most of their older and best-loved material, then they should be charging the ticket prices you'd pay to see an unknown band. But in this case, Morrissey did that. Paying $25 to see both Morrissey and Interpol is well worth the money, even if Morrissey did skip much of his best known material.
Anyway, you can find last night's setlists for both Interpol and Morrissey up on setlist.fm.
So I missed both the concert and the Mets game. Am I regretful? A little. But I'm also relaxed and well rested -- I slept half of the day yesterday -- so I'm not all that sad after all.