Morrissey opens his first show in Wellington in over 20 years with The Smiths' Shoplifters of the World. And the crowd - some grey, some bald, some youthful and hip - goes wild.
It is fair to say, that although the 53-year-old has produced constantly great albums since the break-up of one of the most influential indie bands ever, 25 years ago, a good part of the audience would happily omit all his solo songs, and just see a Smiths concert.
Even if you'd have no idea which of songs of the more than 90-minutes-long set were originally by The Smiths, the reaction of the audience would give it away.
While they happily bob their heads and show decent appreciation for greats like First of the Gang to Die, You're The One For Me (Fatty), or Irish Blood English Heart - they throw their hands in the air ecstatically and sing along to every Smiths song.
Morrissey last night served a good cross-section of his oeuvre to the adoring and swooning audience at the fully-packed Wellington Town Hall.
His voice still sounds exactly like when The Smiths set their mark in the 80s and many will have seen the night as a celebration of the trials and tribulations of their youth.
Morrissey is the master of misery, the voice of the unloved, and has perfected his performance over the years. With the manner of an ageing ballet dancer he struts the stage, ever fighting, and flagellating himself with his microphone cord, crooning to an audience that he knows adores him.
Over the last decades he must have performed some of these songs hundreds of times, but the emotion in every syllable he sings still feels like straight from his tormented soul. And the crowd seems deeply grateful to the man who put those emotions we were never fully able to express into song.
And far from being a detached performer, he's coming to the edge of the stage over and over again, touching gently hands that reach urgently out like he was the messiah. At one point he even hands his mic to the crowd, to give them the chance to verbalise their deep love for him.
A highlight of the perfectly lit and sounding show was no doubt a psychedelic and intense performance of The Smith's How Soon is Now. It was driven by his splendid band - known for always being clad in uniform T-shirts, mostly with slogans like mugger or killjoy, who last night wore All Blacks shirts.
And of course if wouldn't be Morrissey, if there wasn't some statement of some sorts. He tells the audience that he watched TV last night and happened to see an ad against factory farming - and that this never would happen in the US or the UK and how special New Zealand was. Cheers fill the Town Hall. Don't we all love, if people love us.
The audience doesn't have to wait much longer, for another Morrissey signature move. While performing Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want, he finally rips his shirt off and throws it into the crowd, causing quite a ruckus.
Soon he's back with a new shirt to perform the vegetarians' anthem, Meat is Murder accompanied by a graphic video of animals being slaughtered.
After just over 90 minutes he's done and the applause is so intense that the balconies of the Town Hall are shaking. Then he comes back for a great rendition of another Smiths highlight: Still Ill.
When the light goes on - the crowd is satisfied. Never has being unloved and unhappy been a more joyful celebration.
WHEN: December 14
WHERE: Wellington Town Hall
- © Fairfax NZ News