Vibrant altars capturing the essence of Día de los Muertos lined the Santa Barbara Bowl’s Jerry Garcia Glen last Saturday night as people made their way to their seats for an evening of music honoring the Mexican holiday.
First up was the Mexican Institute of Sound, which performed an electrifying opening set, warming up the maximum-capacity crowd for the eagerly awaited headliner Morrissey.
The atmosphere was as gothic as a haunting operatic melody as Morrissey took the stage, his band’s faces painted like skulls. Clearly in his element, the beloved singer shouted, “And to you I say, happy death day!” before igniting the evening with a passionate rendition of The Smiths’ classic “How Soon Is Now?” from their 1985 record, Meat Is Murder.
Morrissey endured several audience attempts to climb onstage as he melted hearts with songs from his solo career, including “Speedway” from 1994’s Vauxhall and I, and “Kiss Me a Lot” and the title song from his most recent success, 2014’s World Peace Is None of Your Business.
At 57, the prolific songwriter transported listeners to 1985, his eternally youthful spirit keeping the crowd out of their seats. Morrissey concluded his show with “First of the Gang to Die,” followed by a singular encore — and a Smiths fan favorite — “What She Said.” Once finished, he disappeared from the stage, leaving hearts racing with excitement and the feeling we’d just seen the charismatic ghost of indie rock’s Prince of Darkness.