2004 was certainly a treat for those whose musical education took place in the late '80s and early '90s. Not only did the seminal Pixies stage a triumphant reformation, but the man who many saw as the leading figure of that era, Steven Patrick Morrissey, return from self-imposed exile in Los Angeles with the excellent You Are The Quarry.
This homecoming gig really couldn't have been planned any better. In front of his adoring fans on his 45th birthday, Morrissey played the cavernous Manchester Evening News Arena and in a move guaranteed to send his acolytes into raptures, slipped in some Smiths songs amongst the solo material. It just had to be recorded for posterity didn't it?
Who Put The M In Manchester is the DVD souvenir of the homecoming gig, recorded in May 2004, just after You Are The Quarry was released. For those who have never warmed to the man, there'll be nothing of interest here - but for the faithful, this is a 90 minute reminder that although he may be 20 years older, a little bit greyer and a bit more overweight, he still remains one of the most charismatic performances of the modern era.
The DVD opens with a rather overlong introduction showing various scenes of Manchester over the sound of a female voice recalling icons of the '80s, until the camera cuts to the stage, Morrissey's name lights up the back in the stage in the manner of Elvis, and the man himself walks on before launching into First Of The Gang To Die.
That of course, was one of the highlights of You Are The Quarry, and sounds just as good here, Mozza's backing band sounding tight with Boz Boorer on particularly good form. The set list is a Morrissey fan's dream, dipping into most of the highlights of his solo career, including a glorious Every Day Is Like Sunday, a touching Let Me Kiss You and an epic I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday.
The much vaunted Smiths tracks are also predictably ecstatically received by the fans at the MEN - although Morrissey plumps for lesser known tracks such as The Headmaster Ritual and Rubber Ring: there's no room for Bigmouth Strikes Again or How Soon Is Now for example. The best is saved for last though with a storming version of There Is A Light That Never Goes Out.
There's also a brand new track called Don't Make Fun Of Daddy's Voice, which suggests the next album could be something really special - especially with the hilarious chorus of "Don't make fun of daddy's voice because he can't help it/When he was a teenage boy, something got stuck in his throat".
Moz's stage presence seems to be getting camper with the years, as the inevitable hoards of young men attempt to storm the stage to hug their hero, he mutters asides such as "you'll never get on this stage...never I tell you!", and when the crowd chant his name towards the end he looks all mock-coy and bats his hand with a "Who? Me?" gesture. The gladioli down the front of his trousers was probably misjudged though - what looks quirkly eccentric on a twentysomething looks downright peculiar on a 45 year old man.
The extras on the DVD are also well picked - a 20 minute set from the 2004 Move Festival and some music videos. It's the former that's the more interesting. Although the set list covers similar ground to the main feature, the crowd sing along with each number and add to the fantastic atmosphere that must have been present on the day.
As for the music videos, First Of The Gang To Die is basically footage from the MEN Arena gig (with a US version featuring backstage footage for some reason), Irish Blood English Heart features Mozza and the band performing in some kind of youth club, while I Have Forgiven Jesus is a rather dull promo featuring the lads walking around a grey Los Angeles with Morrissey dressed as a priest.
So for all Morrissey fans, especially those who were at the gig, Who Put The M In Manchester is a compulsory purchase. It's much better than the rather disappointing Live In Dallas, mainly because Morrissey looks happier and more relaxed than he's ever done. Sadly, there is a rather ridiculously drawn out ending featuring Morrissey disciples traipsing round Manchester visiting the inevitable Salford Lads Club and showing off their Morrissey tattoos. But then, that's what your stop button's for isn't it?