“Morrissey – Morrissey – Morrissey” the baying crowd chanted before surging forward, a tangle of limbs, ripping up the first few rows of seats at the Capitol in Aberdeen.
The raucous audience, desperate to get close to their nonchalant Teddy Boy idol, had travelled from all over the country to Aberdeen.
Morrissey, who turns 62 this weekend, has played countless gigs during his long career, but it was his first solo turn in Aberdeen that drew comparisons with Beatlemania.
As had become tradition at Smiths gigs, fans turned up outside Aberdeen’s Art Deco Capitol Theatre on May 14 with armfuls of flowers to throw at the master of misery.
A coming of age
Writer and Morrissey super fan Dickie Felton was only 17 when he travelled the 350 miles from Liverpool to Aberdeen, especially for the gig.
His first time seeing Morrissey, having discovered his music three years earlier, the trip to the Granite City was a seminal experience for the then teenager.
Dickie, who had cousins in Aberdeen, said: “Trekking on trains to the Granite City supping cans of Heineken fired a real sense of occasion, adventure and I guess a coming of age.
“Wolverhampton 1988 aside, which was more of a farewell gig than anything else, Aberdeen was the first port of call in Britain for Morrissey as a solo touring artist.
“Up until the May 14 1991 the nearest I got to seeing the quiffed-up God was through grainy bootleg VHS video tapes of The Smiths.”
Dickie, now 47, remembers the Capitol commotion fondly – he was one of the fans who fought his way to the front.
Initially there was calm as the crowd of more than 2000 sat nicely in the stalls through support act Phranc.
But once she left the stage, pandemonium ensued as fans clambered over seats – and each other – to get to the front of the auditorium anticipating the arrival of their androgynous hero.
It was an absolute riot, like Beatlemania, but with yelling boys instead of screaming girls.
Ushers tried and failed to stop the daffodil-wielding crowd rushing forward, but did manage to avert a full-on stage invasion.
Dickie said: “A throng – including me – legged it to the front.
“It started as a trickle and then a tide of limbs from all angles made a beeline for the best spot in town.
“I have memories of elderly stewards dashing from their ice cream carts to quell the exodus from the seats.
“And then someone who seemed to be their boss just waved on the pumped-up-patrons with a resigned frown.
“All of a sudden after being in the back stalls I was now front row leaning on the stage.”
Crazed and chaotic
When the lights went down, the audience started chanting Morrissey’s name over and over again, showering the stage in flowers.
When Morrissey appeared – a memory Dickie describes as a “hold-your-breath” moment – and burst into Interesting Drug, the crowd was hooked.
He followed with Mute Witness, a track from his divisive new album Kill Uncle, before crowd-pleaser The Last of the Famous International Playboys.
Dickie said: “For the next hour I was transfixed, as was the swaying mob of bodies singing along to every word.
“The gig was crazed, chaotic, and just absolutely brilliant.
“Flowers flung as fans invaded the stage and poured adoration on Morrissey.”
Morrissey setlist at the Capitol Theatre, Aberdeen
Kill Uncle Tour
May 14 1991
The Last of the Famous International Playboys
November Spawned a Monster
Will Never Marry
Sing Your Life
Pregnant for the Last Time
That’s Entertainment (The Jam cover)
Everyday Is Like Sunday
Trash (New York Dolls cover)
Encore: Cosmic Dancer (T.Rex cover)
Encore 2: Disappointed
The moment was captured in a review of the gig for the Evening Express, where the writer described the concert as “an unsettling experience” with a “rapturous audience flinging floral tributes onto the stage”.
Other highlights included Morrissey’s unique cover of The Jam’s That’s Entertainment, and his hit Every Day is Like Sunday, although the singer nearly came a cropper during that number.
The reviewer wrote: “Midway through a rather subdued Every Day is Like Sunday, Morrissey was hit in the eye by a stray daffodil.
“Ten minutes later he left the stage, but returned for an encore.”
Morrissey spoke very little during the gig, except to murmur “I seem to have lost something today” before his encore, a haunting rendition of T.Rex’s Cosmic Dancer followed by Disappointed.
And in little under an hour, the chaotic gig was over, but went down in history with fans of Moz who were there and still regale tales of the carnage left behind.
The first three or four rows of seats had been ripped from the floor of the historic auditorium, a venue Dickie recalls as “beautiful”.
While others spotted stars of the small screen comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer on the Capitol balcony that night, and hurriedly exiting from the stage door afterwards.
The pair were big fans of Morrissey, although the feeling perhaps wasn’t mutual at that time.
The duo invented a character using Morrissey’s face on a monkey as part of their surreal early 90s show Vic Reeves Big Night Out.
Dickie added: “The following morning we began the long journey home.
“The train went through Dundee with Morrissey set to play there that night, for a split second we considered jumping off the train and continuing our adventure.
“A few days later we realised what Morrissey had ‘lost’ in Aberdeen – his voice.
“That Dundee gig was cut short with the singer unable to complete the entire show.
“The following night’s Glasgow concert was subsequently postponed.”
Aberdeen 30 years ago was a memorable first Morrissey moment for Dickie, who has since gone on to see the controversial singer live more than 100 times.
He has also penned a book The Day I Met Morrissey in which he shares his own and other fans’ experiences of meeting their indie idol.