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Sunday, May 24, 2009 9:39am by  
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Morrissey marks 50th Birthday with hometown Manchester gig

Singer Morrissey has marked his 50th birthday with a sell-out gig and a rapturous reception from fans in his hometown of Manchester.

Friday's show at the Apollo saw Morrissey in high spirits as he cracked jokes and shook hands with the crowd.

A noisy standing ovation welcomed Morrissey as he first came on stage and announced: "Fifty gruesome years!"

The gig featuring both Smiths' classics and Morrissey's solo work was part of an ongoing sell-out world tour.

Smartly dressed in black suit and tie, the singer began the gig with This Charming Man - an iconic track from his time with The Smiths.

Other Smiths' hits on the night included Girlfriend In A Coma, Ask, How Soon Is Now? and Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others.

While from his solo playlist, Morrissey sang I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris and First Of The Gang To Die.

He also sang his latest single Something Squeezing My Skull - and then complained about its poor performance in the charts.

"You would need a miner's helmet and a degree in anthropology to find it in the shops," he told the crowd.

'I love you'

During the gig, the band broke off from the agenda to play Happy Birthday, to which the audience sang along.

"I'm not 50, I'm actually 40-10," responded the singer.

Throughout the evening, Morrissey teased his audience.

He would point the microphone at individuals, asking them if they wanted to say anything, then pull it away before they got the chance.

Finally he gave in, allowing two fans to speak.

"I can't quite believe it. Happy birthday Morrissey, mate," said one man.

A young woman then declared: "I love you, you handsome devil."

Tickets for the special homecoming gig had sold out in 15 minutes.

The occasion was marked inside the Apollo with drapes over the bar featuring a backdrop of Morrissey on stage with the words: "Who Put the M in Manchester?"

Morrissey has remained close to his roots despite his global fame.

He formed The Smiths with guitarist Johnny Marr in 1982.

The group went on to achieve huge success and a loyal fanbase with their very particular angst-ridden sound and lyrics.

The band split in 1987 and lead singer Morrissey released the solo album Viva Hate just a few months later.

Several albums have followed including 2009's Years Of Refusal.

BBC's 'North West Tonight' covers Morrissey's birthday celebrations below: