Monday, May 24, 2004

Viva hate?

There was one reason to watch 'Later With Jools Holland' on Friday night.

It wasn't for The Ordinary Boys - predictably, they were ordinary (note to anyone who's smitten by them: listen to The Futureheads). It wasn't for The Beta Band - despite Nick's enthusiastic endorsement of their latest LP I found it hard to muster any kind of appreciation. And it certainly wasn't for the ivory-tinkling tosspiece of a presenter.

No, it was for the appearance of Mr Steven Patrick Morrissey. The three songs he and his band played from the new album - the single 'Irish Blood, English Heart' plus 'First Of The Gang To Die' and 'Let Me Kiss You' - are all decent without stunning you into submission, and my interest had wavered to the point of switching over by the time they wrapped things up with The Smiths' 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' (curses!).

But it was as one of the piano-stool-interview victims that Morrissey was at his wilfully awkward and entertainingly obnoxious best, refusing to engage in any kind of matey bonhomie with Holland and coming out with some wonderfully acidic observations. He claimed that Los Angeles is "a very pleasant place, as long as you don't meet people", and in response to Holland's suggestion "You look like you could be a politician", he said curtly "I've never been so insulted". Even better was his immediate riposte to the rhetorical question "Can you think of a better show to be on than this?": "'Badger Watch'."

I couldn't help thinking that someone involved in the making of the programme has a mischevious sense of humour, putting the man who once told NME "Reggae is vile" on the same show as a trio of reggae artists including Junior Murvin. The fact that he also called it "the most racist music in the entire world. It's an absolute glorification of black supremacy" might explain why he has his own fanpage on a white supremacist website. The kindest thing you could possibly say is that what he says (and sings) often leaves him open to misinterpretation along these lines, and you have to wonder about someone who is revered by people who despise Cromwell for letting Jews back into the country and who are so detached from reality as to believe that New Labour is a "thinly-disguised Communist farrago". Morrissey's refusal to distance himself from any of this hardly helps matters.

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