14th Nov, 2018

Marr-vellous night at the O2 Institute as guitar king Johnny strikes again

Correspondent 6th Nov, 2018 Updated: 6th Nov, 2018

Johnny Marr

O2 Institute, Birmingham

WHILE fireworks whistled through the Bonfire Night sky outside, indie guitar supremo Johnny Marr sparkled on the O2 Institute stage.

Exploding on to stage with The Tracers from new album Call The Comet, the ‘woo hoos’ reverberated as he rocketed into Bigmouth Strikes Again, the first of a crowd-pleasingly high number of classics by The Smiths.

Marr has long been the perennial cool collaborator since he split from Morrissey, Joyce and Rourke in 1987, naming The The, The Pretenders, Pet Shop Boys and even Hans Zimmer among his musical partners.

But, more than 30 years on from The Smiths, his diminutive frame fits firmly in the role of frontman with Call The Comet – his third album as simply ‘Johnny Marr’.

But this night was much more than a nostalgic nod to The Smiths.

Two big offerings were served up from Marr’s days with Electronic, his hit side project with Bernard Sumner from New Order where perhaps I and many of this crowd, who were perhaps too young for The Smiths, most fondly remember him.

Getting Away With It and Get The Message are revamped for this tight four-piece and go down a storm.

Easy Money and Boys Get Straight from second album Playland already feel like classics before we are treated to How Soon Is Now? where his guitar craft is a joy to behold.

Last Night I Dreamt… was a highlight for me before a four-song encore concluded with two The Smiths classics – There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby – ensuring a rapturous finale from the man Mojo labelled “arguably Britain’s last great guitar stylist”.

James Iles

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