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Meat is murder? Maybe, but do I know when a message kills the atmosphere

Did you hear the one about the British rock icon who freaked the bejaysus out of his audience in Dublin?

Yes, we are indeed talking about Morrissey's controversial concert at the 3Arena last Monday. Controversial, not because of the poor set list (much to the disappointment of fans, Moz devoted a large chunk of the gig to his latest album, World Peace is None of Your Business), but instead, that lengthy, horrific video that popped up during Meat Is Murder.

For those who missed out (and they truly are the lucky ones), the former Smiths ringleader opened the song by urging us to pick up one of his custom-made stencil kits (it's a sheet of paper with the words 'Meat is Murder' cut out), grab a can of spray paint and spread the message across our "beautiful city".

Promoting vandalism is one thing, but what happened next killed the atmosphere stone dead.

Morrissey - a devout vegetarian and animal rights activist - proceeded to perform the 1985 Smiths track whilst a giant screen projected scenes from the 2011 documentary, Farm to Fridge, an eye-opening, graphic account of the cruelty and slaughter suffered by farmhouse animals across the US.

We don't need to go into detail, but let's just say that people didn't know where to look.


"It's murder," the big guy wailed. Some were visibly horrified (there may have been tears, lads), others stared at their pints. Nobody sang along.

It brought the tone right down, and it also confirmed what most of us had already suspected - when it comes to the most difficult, tyrannical and outspoken front man in music, the guy is an ass.

The clip was unnecessary, and you do not show things like this at a rock concert.

World peace is none of our business? Well jeez, Moz, that video hit us hard, but what I choose to put on my plate is none of your freakin' business, either.

You can't go all Clockwork Orange on a crowd like that and force them into watching such horrendous acts of violence and cruelty.

Message received, for sure, but the bloke went the wrong way about expressing his beliefs.

All of which got me thinking - why can't we just enjoy an evening of live music without the performers on stage losing the run of themselves and donning their save-the-world masks, eh?

Be it Sting trying to preserve the Rainforest, or Bob Geldof mouthing off about our Banana Republic at last year's Boomtown Rats homecoming shows, we wonder if it really is necessary to merge politics and live music.

Sing about it, by all means - if the tune is good enough, we'll listen, but crikey, leave the meandering speeches at home. Let's not forget that this is the entertainment business we're talking about.

Music history is littered with various movers and shakers who have worn the political cap and that's fine.

But it's the spread-the-word-because-we-can brigade I take issue with, and you know we have a problem when every hit-maker going starts to get all radical on us.

Only last weekend, British folk/hip hop duo Nizlopi brought their charming bag of Sheeran-lite guitar tunes to Whelan's for what was, at times, a storming gig.


But the boys got ahead of themselves, somehow managing to shoehorn a number of political ramblings in between songs of love, heartbreak and JCBs. It's Saturday night. We're in Whelan's. Pints are flowing. Not the time and place, boys.

True, there are those who believe that the stage is actually the perfect platform for musicians to spread messages of love and equality, but there's a right way of doing things, folks.

Alas, Steven Patrick Morrissey abused his power and made a complete mess of things on Monday night.

Who are we to blame? Bono? Macca? (another staunch veggie who believes we should all ditch the meat) The aforementioned Sting? Coldplay's Chris Martin?

It's a tricky one, not least because of the public response to Band Aid 30 (number one in 61 countries). Everyone downloaded the single, but ask yourself this - is it because Geldof told you to, or was it really out of the goodness of your heart?