Live Review – Johnny Marr (East Village Arts Club, Liverpool 26/03/15)

Johnny Marr fans in Liverpool were last night treated to a superb, rounded experience of one of the country’s best musicians to date. The former Smiths guitarist played 7 songs from his new album Playland as well as a handful from his debut solo album, a few trial numbers and the necessary Smiths tracks.
Opening with Playland had the crowd bobbing like an early Joy Division gig, but perhaps the lack of a support act until 9 o’clock was detrimental as Panic, the first song from The Smiths selection, provided only a momentary respite from an arguably passive crowd seemingly observing and enjoying. After New Town Velocity from The Messenger, Marr played The Headmaster Ritual, the opening riff alone sparked life into a crowd, and a subtle change of lyrics; “same old joke since 1982” gave us the first little dig at the other half, who is currently engaged on a UK tour. There may be plenty more in Marr’s autobiography, which he this week announced would be published in Autumn 2016.
With Record Store Day 2015 fast-approaching, an event Marr is a proud contributor to, he played his official release of Depeche Mode’s I Feel You which is to be released as a 7″ through ADA and New Voodoo. RSD is on April 18th and Dig Vinyl, 3B Records and Probe Records are all taking part. There’s only 1000 of Johnny’s release available though, so you might need to be up as early as those queueing for this gig were. You can hear the release here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h_w-O9CkKA
A couple from solo album one followed before the boisterous and fiery The Queen Is Dead, maybe a dedication to Richard III would’ve been appropriate, but I don’t think he could make it – tickets did sell out really fast, in his defence.
A track “from just up the road” followed, the New Order/Smiths/Pet Shop Boys project Electronic’s Getting Away With It came before most likely the highlight for many, the impeccable There Is A Light was greeted with that special sort of nostalgia, and smiling faces, as if the plays left in it are wearing thin. It was dedicated, “to everybody in here, and nobody else.”
The encore gave us Bigmouth Strikes Again, then my favourite from his latest LP “..yes I said LP”, Dynamo. The genius that sparks at the end of his fingers could be seen close up, leaning over to each side of the crowd within touching distance, he loves it – you wouldn’t guess he was turning 52 this year. Especially not when he’s jumping during the penultimate track The IT-Switch like it’s 1979.
Marr brought the show to a close with How Soon Is Now?, which still staggers every day at how it was first a B-side. The murky guitar that links with lyrics usually sung by a desperate Morrissey weren’t a foot out of place, vocally he was near-perfect, and the band were excellent – playing Smiths songs in front of some sporting Moz’s silver quiff can’t be easy. On that note though, the crowd spanned all ages, so much in fact it was a celebration of live music in a venue that deserves nothing less than the likes of Johnny Marr gracing it with his talent.
Next up for Johnny is a similar gig tonight in Holmfirth, before Friday’s show at The Royal Albert Hall for to celebrate the efforts of the fantastic Teenage Cancer Trust.

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