“What’s the point in encores anymore?” I stated to my mate at the end of Johnny’s Marr’s set, knowing he would be back on in a couple of minutes to play some crowd favourites. We agreed they’re a bit obvious and it’s loads better when a band / artist do the set and just “fuck off” as my mate eloquently put it. Leaves you wanting more doesn’t it.
As we smugly drank our pints reflecting on our apparent superior knowledge of how to put on a proper show Marr reappears and launches into The Crickets cover ‘I Fought The Law’ done note perfectly as per The Clash version. Following this he then played Electronic’s ‘Getting Away With It’. What a song. Although Bernard Sumner is probably the only person who can sing this song to its full potential, it’s still a top song. Then Marr’s ‘piece to resistance’, How Soon Is Now which highlights his masterful guitar playing followed by the proper set closer, ‘There Is a Light And It Never Goes Out’. Emotional.
And that’s why you do an encore! It was an outrageously good climax to a brilliant previous hour of Johnny Marr, who is completing his first solo tour following the release of his new album ‘The Messenger’ and in the wake of winning a ‘Godlike Genius’ award from the NME.
Marr had previously started the set off with album opener from his new album ‘The Messanger;, ‘The Right Thing Right’ (check it out as the first track on the current Gigslutz playlist) followed up by Big Mouth Strikes Again. The Right Thing Right is a brilliant Motown infused stomper and BMSA is of course a Smiths classic. At first it sounded a bit bizarre hearing Marr singing the Smiths number but he got into it and handled Morrissey’s idiosyncratic lyrics surprisingly well.
A nice touch was dropped in during the set as Marr gave a nod to Scouse bands of the late 80’s which he claimed to have been of inspiration to him, name checking The Stairs, Shack, Cast, Dead 60’s (not late 80’s if I was to be pedantic) and “our Lee” in reference to The La’s Lee Mavers. He dedicated ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ to Stairs frontman Edgar Summertyme. Again, nice touch but a bit inappropriate given the state of Edgar’s gob (sorry Edgar).
The only other Smiths song on show was ‘London’ which Marr seemed to take extreme pleasure in playing, lifting his guitar above his head at the end. Electronic tune ‘Forbidden City’ was also slotted in alongside tracks from ‘The Messenger’. The new stuff sounded fantastic, the highlight being new single ‘Upstarts’ which showed off that unique sound that only Johnny Marr can make.
Marr also showed off his working class routes with a speech inspired from a book he had read by a journalist who writes for The Independent on ‘the worst places in England’ which includes places such as Prestatyn, Rhyl and Preston. Marr gave staunch defence of such places and labelled the journalist “a fucking dickhead”. Go on son. The song he wrote about that book, ‘Lockdown’ showed that he has been kicking about with the Cribs over recent years with the rough edgy guitar sound but with that Johnny Marr twist to it.
Throughout the set Marr looked uber cool and didn’t falter in the position of front man. After years of being the right hand man in highly regarded bands (The Smiths, The The, Modest Mouse, The Cribs) it was a brave decision to go solo but it looks like he’s pulled this off as well. Marrverlous.