Morrissey gears up for Usher Hall

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WHAT do you know about Steven Patrick Morrissey? That he became one of the most influential figures in the history of British pop while fronting legendary indie band the Smiths? That he’s vegetarian? That he’s a grumpy, reclusive teetotaller, notorious for cancelling shows and storming off stage?

Chances are you don’t know a whole lot more about the 53-year-old icon, who makes no bones about his hatred of the British press.

“I never go out,” said Morrissey in an interview a few years back. “The only time I’m out a lot is when I’m on tour, and then I’m only out with people when I have to be.

“As a member of the Smiths, I’ve never been to a party. I’ve been to a club twice and then I left before 10 o’clock. I’d rather not be exposed to the party side of rock ‘n’ roll.”

He may be anti-social in the extreme, but like his hero Oscar Wilde, the Manchester-born misfit has proved himself incapable of uttering a dull word since he shot to fame in the Eighties, frequently displaying razor-sharp wit.

Take this snippet from a 1989 interview with NME, who asked him if he sees any similarities between himself and David Bowie. “What, the living Bowie or the present dead one?” quipped Mozza. “The living Bowie, there are some, yes. Yes, I do see similarities.”

The previous year, when Blitz magazine asked him what he thinks it is that his music does to the fans, he replied: “Well, they wear heavy overcoats and stare at broken lightbulbs... that’s the way it’s always been for me.”

And you can forget about Morrissey playing down his supernatural songwriting powers. “Artists aren’t really people,” he once deadpanned, “and I’m actually 40 per cent papier mache.”

Asked why he’s always so miserable in his lyrics, he had this to say to Melody Maker in 1987: “I’m capable of looking on the bright side. I just don’t do it very often”.

A true enigma, Morrissey’s visit to the Usher Hall on Monday - his first Capital gig since 2008’s five-star, sell-out show at the Playhouse - is the hottest ticket in town bar none.

After all, there’s not much to beat watching one of pop’s greatest lyricists belting out classics like First Of The Gang To Die, Last Of The International Playboys, Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before and How Soon Is Now?

Morrissey, Usher Hall, Lothian Road, Monday 7pm, £32.50, www.theusherhall.net