Tickets had been sold out for months in advance. The prices being asked on buy and sell sites were bordering on extortion so it was looking highly unlikely that I would be able to catch any shows of Morrissey’s concerts during his brief UK autumn tour of October 2009.
As the tour rolled around to its final shows in Birmingham and Swindon over the last weekend of the month, I’d noticed a handful of tickets for both nights appearing for reasonable prices to suit the needs of a traveller on his last legs of yet another stink in England. The question was, which Morrissey concert would I like to see most? Well, being the travel junkie that I am, I had been to the Brum to watch Liverpool play at St Andrews and Villa Park in previous seasons so aside from football, there was little to know need for me to return any time soon. Swindon it was!
By the Thursday before the Saturday show in Swindon, a fella from some out of the way town in the south of England had a pair of tickets going for just above face value. I decided it was now or never so I agreed to buy the pair and meet up with him in his home town, of which I cannot remember to this day. What I do remember is the following adventure that involved plenty of trains and buses, a cheap hotel room and a Sunday battering at Anfield on top of just one damn song!
My girlfriend at the time, Ali, was a part time Morrissey fan so she agreed to come with me as I was flying out of London on the Monday morning back to Oz and we wanted to spend our last weekend together for a few months. We booked ourselves on a National Express coach to London for early on the Saturday morning followed by a few hours in London town catching some sights before another bus trip to that town from which I don’t remember the name of before finally, a two hour coach trip into Swindon!
I’ve only ever been back to Swindon once since 2009 and that was for a damn good reason. A football match! So, as 2009 stumbled into her final quarter, Ali and I would be seeing Morrissey in a place called the Oasis Leisure Centre. The venue was actually a basketball court that had a stage at the back end and held around 1,0000 punters. Cute.
Before that, there was the small matter of getting hold of the actual tickets. After lunch, we left London and met up with our ticket seller at the bus station of this town from which the name eludes me. He was your typical Doc Martin, shaved head cockney Morrissey fan who claimed to have seen Moz some 30 times before in concert. I’d not looked at the Birmingham set list from the night before as I wanted to be surprised by the set list.
As our accommodation was booked in London for a late afternoon check in, I had to lug my hefty back pack around with me and we checked it into the cloak room in the Oasis Leisure Centre. The lady at the counter was blown away by the fact that I was an Australian in Swindon wanting to see a Morrissey concert. Come to think of it, I doubt you would meet too many Skips in a place like Swindon. It’s a bit of a shit hole if I’m being honest.
So there we were. Up near the front by around 8pm and just waiting for Moz to leap out on stage and fuck with our heads! The support act, of which I also fail to remember aside from the cute lead singer dressed all in black with black hair, were half decent but after a long day of travel, I was only wanting one thing. Moz!
At last, the bells tolled and around 9pm Moz lept to the stage and burst into a thumping rendition of “This Charming Man”, a Smiths classic from 1983. His voice bellowed out some beautiful notes which left Ali and I standing in awe. As the song finished we noticed Moz drop to the floor. Within seconds, the lights went out and band members rushed to his aid and literally, dragged him off the stage. I’d started to worry that something serious had gone wrong. Some 25 minutes soon passed before the house lights went on and an announcement came over the P.A that Morrissey had left the building. The show was over! And, after one song!
I was left dismayed and shocked. What had gone wrong and if he wasn’t feeling well, why start the show. A punter near us on the way out said that this was typical of Moz (he does have a track record of cancelling shows at the last minute) and wouldn’t be parting with his hard earned for another show again. We understood his frustration.
The only upside was that Ali and I could jump an earlier train into London and settle in for a night of much needed sleep. There was just a little matter of Liverpool V Manchester United on the Sunday at Anfield. I wouldn’t be there however, I knew the perfect pub in Camden to drink away with other reds for the lunch time kick off.
Liverpool were under pressure coming into this match. Four losses on the bounce if memory serves and Rafa’s job was on the line. Thankfully though, Fernando Torres put the red men ahead around the hour mark and David Ngog sealed all three points with a stoppage time counter attack for a nerve wrecking 2-0 win over the auld enemy.
The following morning, I flew home to Skippy land and got back into that charming thing called work. Morrissey recovered from his night in hospital, Liverpool went onto finish another season without a league title (what’s new these days ey?) and Ali and I broke up in the March of the following year.