Morrissey performs at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in November… (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles…)
This post has been updated. Please see note at the bottom for details.
If meat is murder, as Morrissey famously proclaimed during his tenure as the Smiths' frontman, then Staples Center will be signifcantly less-homicidal when the singer plays his sold-out headline gig on March 1.
Promoters for the show announced Monday that the downtown arena's food service will incorporate a greatly expanded vegan and vegetarian menu the night of Moz's concert.
Contrary to earlier reports from Morrissey's representatives, however, the venue will not be going entirely meat-free that night. Meat concessions will still be available from Staples Center vendors, though backstage catering will be all-vegetarian.
“As we have done in the past, we are happy to create a menu with a greater variety of vegetarian items for our guests who prefer these types of options,” said Lee Zeidman, Sr. Vice President and General Manager of Staples Center and L.A. LIVE., in a statement today. “We respect Morrissey’s lifestyle and his concern for the wishes of so many of his fans and are happy that we are able to honor his requests in this manner.”
According to reps for Staples Center, Morrissey, a longtime vegan and outspoken animal-rights activist, had requested that the venue's McDonald's outlets be shuttered for the night and for all other food vendors to cease the sale of any meat-based concessions. Instead, the show's vendors will feature new Morrissey-specific vegetarian fare, including vegan sushi and sloppy joes and a variety of pastas, salads and wraps.
"The original request came through the promoter, however going entirely meatless was never an option as it goes against our philosophy of providing our guests with the greatest number of amenities and food options in an arena setting," said Cara Vanderhook, director of communications for Staples Center & Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE.
In a statement, Morrissey said that "I don't look upon it as a victory for me, but a victory for the animals."
Additionally, promoter Goldenvoice will donate part of each ticket sale to the animal-activism group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which recently opened an office in Echo Park, perhaps the heart of L.A. Morrissey fandom. PETA recently named Staples Center the NBA's "Most Vegetarian-Friendly Arena" in a survey of 29 venues.
A Smiths reunion is perpetually hoped for at every Coachella season. One popular rumor has it that Goldenvoice offered to make the festival all-vegetarian as part of the inducements for a Smiths reunion.
Obviously that hasn't come to pass yet, and Morrissey's fan base at Staples will probably be a self-selecting group of vegetarians (or at least fans sympathetic to Moz's plant-based diet) who will embrace the revised menu. But this show will be an interesting experiment in inventive concert food service -- and the ability of popular artists to make the arena touring circuit fit their values.
[Updated 4 p.m., Feb. 19: New information and comments from Staples Center representatives were added, correcting previous statements from Morrissey reps that Staples Center would be entirely meat-free the night of his concert.]