Johnny Marr | Live Review


Remaining anything but a cliché Johnny Marr is vegan, teetotal and idolised by generations. On the day Morrissey unveils his five-hundred page tome, Marr returns to one of his favourite places, Bristol.

It’s tricky to reach the Academy floor as people block the stairways, the dense crowd is irking with excitement as an evening with an NME Godlike Genius looms. Leading the way with single ‘Upstarts’, the reception is warm and It becomes clear that Marr is in his element, doing fancy trickery and striking poses that welcome the rise of blue screens. Surprisingly early on ‘Panic’ is dropped in inciting the first wave of pogo indulgence. There’s an overwhelming joy that washes over as the capacity roar out the iconic line about hanging a certain DJ.

A flood of material from debut solo album ‘The Messenger’ follows showcasing a cool wave of guitar jangle. ‘The Right Thing Right’ imperatively stands up as strobe lighting rushes. ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ acts as a celebration of The Smiths legacy and ‘Generate! Generate!’ is delivered with a punch of swagger. “Cool city you’ve got here Bristol” Marr prompts then adds, “especially if you like records”, before working through a moving rendition of ‘New Town Velocity’.

“Watch out, iconic 80’s indie riff coming through” is mentioned venomously as we hold our breath for the opening chords of ‘Bigmouth’, this is a cue for some to throw themselves about like they’ll never hear it again. Once Noel Gallagher claimed that the intro of ‘How Soon Is Now’ couldn’t even be replicated by Johnny Marr himself, but the captivating guitar jitter reveals itself identically and calls for another round of argie-bargie. Blessings are said, and we’re left in darkness.

The textbook interval of floor-stomping and football chanting rigorously beg for more. As the band fleetingly nip back and the tender guitars of ‘Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want’ come grappling at the heart; by the end eyes are puffy all around. In a stark contrast the wail of an ‘I Fought The Law’ cover re-introduces our bashful side as words are hollered back. Closing on ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’, we are left leaking out of the doors like an emotional slush-puppy and the power of Marr’s musicianship reminded just how vital The Smiths continue to be.

For more Johnny Marr, check out ‘The Messenger’ right here: