Latin America’s obsessive love for Morrissey is almost as baffling as it is well documented. How did this most English of English, whiter than white, faintly nationalist and softly spoken icon of the dispossessed become the hallowed 'Santa Morrissey', ascending into the pantheon of the divine? Lauded and feted with the fervour for which Latin America is renowned and fetishized in shrines, tattoos and yes, tribute bands.
The most famous of these, Mexrissey, hailing from (you guessed it) Mexico, returned to Sydney last night to bring some much needed flavour to a drizzly Tuesday and transform the way we look at the work of Morrissey and The Smiths.
Light years away from the dour, self-conscious and introspective vibe often present in the originals, the band brings latin beats, mariachi trumpets and un sentido de alegría to this material that inspires salsa, flamenco and ballroom dancing to erupt as it washes in waves over a bemused and ecstatic Factory Theatre.
Sydney crowds are sometimes known for being notoriously sedate, but the band's banter, obvious love for the music and sheer tour-honed presence find the elasticity in everyone’s hips engaged.
Highlights raise their head to bop in the form of their infectious take on ‘Suedehead’, a beautiful spin on ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ and the crowd participation infused ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ which sees a local Moz lookalike handed the mic for his best drunken atonal contribution. He’s crap but everyone cheers. It’s that kind of night.
The music of Morrissey and The Smiths is based on songwriting so strong that it can be morphed and twisted into all manner of fashions and still remain recognisable and essential - yet few have ever convincingly covered them with such inspired reinvention. And it’s fucking fun. A phrase that has probably never been uttered about a Morrissey show.
‘How Soon is Now’ closes the set with Johnny Marr’s arcing guitar supplanted by mournful trompeta and we emerge beaming back into the drizzly night, a sun shining inside. Estuvo bien!