Former Twin Cities resident Kimberly Hanson recalls her first Morrissey concert, a 1992 gig at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis that ended rather abruptly. “I was new to Morrissey music at the time, so it was this perfect life and concert experience of who he is,” she says, ”and I’ll never forget it.”
Hanson, who now lives in Portland, Ore., says she recently found some old journals in which she had written about the experience. “It’s actually a little fresher in my mind than it would have been two weeks ago,” she says.
Here’s how Hanson recalls the events of that evening, some 23 years ago:
What I’m going to share with you is what I remember observing; it may differ from what others remember, just to be fair. But it was September of 1992, a concert at the Orpheum, and it was the Your Arsenal tour.
A roommate of mine had won tickets to the concert; we were still in college and wouldn’t have been able to necessarily afford going, but he won some tickets and a group of us went to the concert that night. I remember really distinctly that we were in the balcony, and we were right in the center, so we had just the best view! We could see the entire stage.
I remember there was an opening band I had never heard of; I don’t remember who they were to this day, but they were intense and loud and the people around me were all talking about how it was pretty clear that they had probably imbibed heavily before the concert. As a result, there was this really interesting energy in the theater.
And then Morrissey took the stage, and his appearance reminded me of Elvis or James Dean. There were a handful of security guards just along the edge of the stage, because everybody kept trying to get up — I had never been to a Morrissey concert before, so I was fascinated by this aggressiveness the audience had to climb up and be with him. As people kept trying to get up, every once in a while, somebody would succeed, and the person would run up and try to grab Morrissey or to hug him, or they’d be at his feet, kissing his feet, and then the guards would grab them and pull them offstage.
There was one person that got through who looked like he and Morrissey had been dressed by the same person; they looked identical — same style of dress, same sort of hair, same build. My memory may fail me on this, but it was probably three or four songs into the concert at this point, but Morrissey and this guy started dancing together. It was a strange, very intimate-looking dance. I remember they mirrored one another’s movements. They got into this groove and they were dancing, and they were doing this thing where they were lying on the ground together and they were sort of grinding each other, and the audience were going insane! Because everybody was just so excited, wishing they were this person who was up on stage. Morrissey and this guy finished the dance, and the guy was escorted off the stage.
Then Morrissey started singing, “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful,” and everyone started screaming and yelling and jumping, and I remember that as I was looking down on the stage, all of a sudden there were 10 or 12 people who were all rushing the stage and trying to climb up, and they all got up onto the stage somehow. They were surrounding Morrissey, and at some point, he kind of got pushed out of the way, fell down a little bit, and the microphone fell on the floor. Somebody else from the audience picked it up and started singing. Morrissey grabbed the microphone back and he said, “This is s***, we’re out of here.” And then the concert was over. That was it.
At first, I don’t think we all believed it was over. Suddenly, there was this really interesting moment of community among people who didn’t know each other:
“What do you think is going on?”
“Do you think it’s REALLY over?”
“No, maybe that was a joke.”
Then there was an announcement and the lights came up, and theater staff indicated we had to exit the theater. As we were leaving, I remember everybody was so upset. There were young women who were crying. There were other people who were so frustrated because they wanted to see more of Morrissey.
My friends and I felt so bad for everyone else in the audience who actually paid to go in and basically got part of a concert. For us, because we had won the tickets, it was sort of an unexpected experience. It wasn’t something we had planned for, but it was amazing!
I was new to Morrissey’s music at the time, so it was this perfect life- and concert experience of who he is, and I’ll never forget it. Honestly, it made me love him even more. That may sound kind of strange, but he’s such an interesting and engaging man, and he has so much talent.
My husband and I are going to see him in Portland on July 23, and we’re very excited. As I always joke — kind of — I’m hopeful that he meets the concert obligation, that I actually get to see him in concert again and that there isn’t anything strange that ends it early.
Now that I know him and have followed him over the years, it seems he almost encourages people to come up and dance with him. I’m curious to see if it will happen this time around.
Morrissey performs at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday, July 13; doors are at 7 p.m.
Kimberly Hanson is a former Minnesotan who lives in Portland, Ore., where she blogs about city living, music, architecture, food and drink, nature, and keeping-Portland-weird moments at artfuldreamer.com.