Whilst forever being known as one half of the song writing duo Morrissey and Marr, Johnny Marr has been there done it and kept the haircut. His loyal fans of the 80s and newbie indie kids of the 00’s are all on show tonight to see Marr perform his new solo offering, The Messenger. Having featured in many bands since The Smiths demise, including The Cribs and The The, it is some 30 years after The Smiths that Marr has felt the time is right to release a record under his own name. During this time Morrissey has clocked up album after album however this is all forgotten during this hit laden set at Camden institution, The Roudhouse.
Marr takes to the stage and opens with aptly named Upstart from his newly released solo album. The set through the night throws up equal measures of solo album tracks, Smiths favourites and a cover of The Crickets’s I Fought the Law.
Marr strikes a figure of a humble but sure of himself man who just likes to play music. Every Smiths song is met with unbelievable enthusiasm and the odd tear from some of the more emotional, or drunk, members of the crowd.
However it has to be noted the solo stuff more than holds its own through the set and actually demonstrates how good The Messenger actually is as a record. Offerings such as ‘Generate Generate’ and ‘New Town Velocity’ show that the man from Manchester who defined a generation and inspired many, many bands still has it.
The main body of the set whizzes by in a flash ending on ‘How Soon Is Now’ but the real magic occurs during one of the best encores I have ever seen. Coming out with just an acoustic guitar Marr so tenderly plays ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ giving the song all the space and time to breath as it deserves. The crowd sing-a-long and I get the impression many nights have been made but then it is taken up a notch for the closing song of the evening, ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’. This song acts as a metaphor for the night and for Marr’s career. He simply refuses to fade out and give up the guitar……….thank God for that!!!