The 52-year-old former vocalist of The Smiths took to the stage with a giant Turkish flag to cheers from the thousands that filled the Cemil Topuzlu Open-air Theater in Harbiye on Thursday night, kicking off his set with “How Soon Is Now.”
Morrissey is known for his often straightforward remarks that at times lead to controversy, but Thursday night he was joined by his band members -- Boz Boorer and Jesse Tobias on guitar, Solomon Walker on bass and Gustavo Manzur on keyboards -- in an onstage political statement: All four members of Morrissey’s band were wearing T-shirts inscribed “Assad is [expletive],” highlighting the growing international pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
The concert saw Morrissey perform a selection of his own hits, old and new, as well as songs from his time with The Smiths, including “You Have Killed Me,” “Let Me Kiss You,” “Everyday Is Like Sunday” and “Black Cloud,” all accompanied by the thousands that packed the Cemil Topuzlu, Turkish media reported on Friday.
Morrissey launched his solo career in 1988, roughly a year after his band The Smiths, which helped him rise to international fame, broke up. His first solo album was “Viva Hate,” which featured the hits “Everyday Is Like Sunday” and “Suedehead.” A re-mastered special edition of the chart-topping album was re-released in the UK in April.
Morrissey’s concert wrapped up the 19th edition of the annual İstanbul Jazz Festival, which saw acclaimed performances from such world stars as Keith Jarrett, Marcus Miller, Erykah Badu, Caro Emerald, Antony and the Johnsons, Esperanza Spalding, since opening on July 3.