There’s always a danger, one feels, when dealing with former members of bands with that hallowed status, ‘legendary’. It’s a danger of relying too heavily on the glory of days gone by, a danger of the failure to recognise the natural passing of time. We needn’t have worried about Johnny Marr.
Playing the fourth night of his current run of European dates, tonight the former Smiths guitarist plays a balanced 90-minute mix of material from his 2013 debut solo album The Messenger (Upstarts, Generate! Generate!, New Town Velocity) and its 2014 follow-up Playland (Back In The Box, Easy Money, Dynamo) as well as a handful of Smiths tracks including Panic, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out and of course, How Soon Is Now.
Frustratingly, there’s a lack of crowd reaction for much of Marr’s solo material – there’s chanting ‘Johnny, Johnny, Johnny fucking Marr’ and then there’s actually getting into the songs and it’s clear that the majority of tonight’s punters are here for The Smiths, coming alive only upon identifying the opening bars of each of the six the guitarist plays. Just the Smiths songs though, Marr’s rollicking cover of Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life appears to fall largely on deaf ears. Or maybe tired legs. Equally, there’s little danger of encroaching the 3,500 capacity of the venue as the balcony is completely closed. Openers Childhood suffer from only a couple of hundred to watch their set, which may actually come as a blessing in disguise – it’s a little one dimensional.
Tonight Marr plays his trademark mix of classic British indie, new wave and post punk ably, impressively and deserving of the legendary status afforded him; but will his solo efforts ever even parallel those of his band’s in the eyes of his fans?
Photos: Jonathan Morgan