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  The Tabernacle  
  Midtown Atlanta, GA  
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I grew up listening to The Smiths, and i have followed Morrissey on his long solo career, sometimes to my dismay. However, with the release of You Are the Quarry earlier this year, Morrissey has undergone a bit of a personal renaissance, so the chance to see him live was not to be missed.

This was also my first venture to The Tabernacle, which was built as a House of Blues during the Olympics, and now is an upscale, more expensive venue. And for such a place, it seems awfully poorly designed. The space is roughly a cube, about 100 feet on the side. Large balconies overhang the space, so that roughly one half of the cubic volume is one large container of space, while the rest of it is somewhat covered.

Sounds like a good design, right?

It could have been, had the people who designed it implemented a decent sound system, or at least taken into account the sound dampening effect of being under the balconies. Basically, if you are out on the "floor", sound is excellent. If, however, you move to the back of the club, under the balconies (say, you were sick of being shoved in the back by some rude, short-haired yuppie jerk AND having your feet stomped on by a dancing hippie girl) then the sound is mud.

Truly appalling. So, i give a big EvilSponge thumbs down to The Tabernacle as a large venue. They need to rethink their sound system. Maybe the sound is better in the balconies, but since they cost extra over the already inflated ticket price of this place, i had no chance to find out.

So the venue was a bummer. I really would have preferred to see Morrissey at The Variety Playhouse, a large venue with good sound. But oh well.

I will say this for The Tabernacle -- they run a tight ship. I showed up at the time stamped on my ticket, and, by the time i worked my way through security, i was late for my flight. Oh, wait, even though they had practically airport level security, i was just going to a show. What's up with that security stuff? Anyway, by the time i worked my way through security, the opener was almost done playing. This was some buff, acoustic-guitar carrying Irishman. I never caught his name, and his music, while not bad, did nothing to distinguish itself from the mass of Irishmen with guitars.

After he was done, the stage was set for Morrissey. He played in front of giant (10 foot tall) golden letter adorned with red light bulbs. The letters spelled out his name -- think Elvis in Vegas. Of course, we have always known that Morrissey admired The King, so it makes sense.

Anyway, promptly at 9:50 PM, Morrissey and his band took the stage to a thundering version of How Soon Is Now?. They played it a little harder than The Smiths did, and Morrissey's voice is older, so he can no longer hit the high notes like he once did. But it still sounded glorious.

Morrissey's band was a five-piece, and they were dressed in all black outfits complete with t-shirts that read "Morrissey". Typical. Anyway, in addition to How Soon Is Now? they played four more Smiths tunes: Big Mouth Strikes Again, Shoplifters of the World (a nice, slower, guitar grinding version that really impressed me), Rubber Ring (odd choice, but okay), and they wrapped the whole show up with an encore that consisted solely of a long, crowd sing-along version of There Is a Light That Never Goes Out. So, he sandwiched the show with Smiths songs, which was very cool. I am glad he is still doing the old stuff, although i would have liked to have heard his band try something off of the first, self-titled album. Still, i take what i can get, and those songs sounded good and were much fun.

Otherwise, Morrissey did a lot of his hits from throughout the years, including a rollicking good version of Every Day Is Like Sunday that really got the crowd moving. Irish Blood, English Heart really rocked in concert too.

Morrissey is a showman, not just a singer. He danced around on stage, posing and flirting with the crowd. He mugged it up for us like only he can do, and it was good to see. The man is an excellent performer. Overall, i really enjoyed seeing him, and thought that the music, even the slower stuff off of You Are the Quarry (like Let Me Kiss You and This World Is Full of Crashing Boors) came across pretty well.

So my overall verdict: Morrissey and band put on a great performance in a crappy venue. He is worth seeing, but it will take some doing to ever get me to go back out to The Tabernacle.

Related Links:
  You Are The Quarry, his latest album.
Irish Blood, English Heart
, the first single off of that album.

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