This year's SXSW seemed dominated by the bigger and/or established acts - Flaming Lips, Beastie Boys, Echo and the Bunnymen, Pretenders, among others - keeping a strangle hold on the limelight and Thursday night's BBC showcase at Austin Music Hall was no exception, as Morrissey headlined in his first SXSW appearance.
With all do respect to the aforementioned acts, Morrissey is the only one that can send a predominantly jaded music industry crowd into an unabashed giddy frenzy. It's worth noting here that back in the late '90s this guy couldn't find a record deal - almost too incredible to believe judging by the over-capacity crowd at this airplane-hangar of a venue.
Since resurfacing in a big way with 2004's You Are The Quarry, the Moz has consistently been in top form when kicking it live and Thursday was no exception. He did use the showcase for its intended purpose of showcasing new material - something the other legacy acts could not boast. He opened with his new signature favourite, "First of The Gang to Die," and then proceeded to draw mostly from Quarry and his forthcoming Ringleader of the Tormentors.
And yes, of course he did some requisite selections from his former band's catalogue - namely "Girlfriend in a Coma," which at the end of the song he noted that, "In case you were wondering, she didn't make it." Ah, the classic dry Morrissey humor. Highlighted next in his bag of tricks was his new song, "Life Is A Pigsty," which was an interesting follow-up to come right after "Girlfriend In A Coma". Closing out the set, he quoted Loudon Wainwright by saying (and I am paraphrasing here) of the 'good old days' that they are good because they are old and gone, cueing the guitars for "How Soon Is Now?" You can keep holding that candle for a reunion but it's just going to end up burning your fingers.
If you missed his Austin appearance and his Oklahoma warm-ups shows (huh?), don't worry as the proper tour kicks off in the summer.