Following a video collage which included cultural reference points as central to Morrissey as Shelagh Delaney and The New York Dolls, the man himself, besuited and almost portly, entered with his band of headwaiters and crashed into This Charming Man.
What the band lacked in subtlety they made up for in attack. We missed the Johnny Marr arpeggios, but were sucked in by the vigour. An early assault on How Soon Is Now upped the ante, emphasising the song's hypnotic ferocity.
These welcome nods to The Smiths showed an artist either at ease with his past or preparing for the inevitable reunion, but in the meantime some of his best solo work was on offer.
Irish Blood/ English Heart is a controversial song at the best of times, and might seem positively foolhardy in a Belfast context, but Morrissey is an artist sure of his audience's adoration, cajoling them, accepting their love and mild hysteria during his brief striptease.
The stronger material from his new album Years Of Refusal allowed the band a brief respite from the somewhat unrelenting rocking out, with the flamenco driven The Last Time I Saw Carol showing Morrissey in a rather unexpected matador role.
For despite the miserabilist image, an ironic, or perhaps rueful smile is never far from his lips. In fact he may be our wittiest lyricist since Noel Coward — “She told me she loved me/which means she must be insane.”
And who could resist the sheer poetic drama of closer The First Of The Gang To Die — Greek myth transposed to the mean streets. At the Waterfront on Saturday night, like a bruised and battered Marlon Brando, Morrissey stole all hearts away.