Johnny Marr
The Night & Day Cafe, Manchester
25th February 2013

Review & Pictures By Lance Xevron

Ooh a secret gig!!

In the words of Half Man Half Biscuit- “They’re gonna be unveiling some new material,If you want to see a secret gig, On the internet the day before

Well it wasn’t on the internet a day before, but was generally a word of mouth affair by Johnny himself, who told the few hundred people that, (some queued for 3 hours ) attended his signing session in Piccadilly Records across the road. Manchester’s Night and Day is the perfect venue for this, being Johny’s favourite venue when he is in town and the small, cramped stage saw one of the early shows of his current solo outing last year.

It’s £6 in on the door and be there at 8pm said the rumour and Johnny himself cut it cine not getting there ’til 7.45 as he was still signing albums over the road with that typical care to attention and affable, nice guy approach that has always made him a popular figure in town.

At 8.10, the doors opened & 100 or so people that were in the know filed in & took up their places at the front.

The gig is a warm up to test the crowd reaction to the new songs before Johnny plays the NME awards show this week celebrating his godlike genius award. We are not sure why he needs a warm up, he has already played out and the album is great and his band is a tight 4 piece, with Jack from Haven on drums, & an additional guitarist & a bass player fleshing them out.

At around 8.50 they file on stage, & start up with “Right Thing Right” & they’re tight, no real need for the open rehearsal. Next up is the rockier single, “Upstarts”, Johnny’s fairly talkative to the crowd & not at all nervous playing with a brand new band. His guitar playing is not flashy on the new stuff, but he’s absolutely unbelievably fast on a storming off the cuff version of “Bigmouth Strikes Again”, which is played halfway through the set & not included on the set list.

He looks good, that iconic black mop framing the sort of face that only a guitar player can have- a touch of the Keef outlaw mixed with a Mancunian cool, a cool that has become part of the musical DNA of the city.

Out of the new songs, the upbeat and armed witha great title “Generate! Generate!” sounds best.

Of the other songs, Electronics “Forbidden City” is given a great outing, Bernard Sumner’s vocals aren’t missed on this & Johnny’s vocals sound great throughout the set. Johnny is very much the frontman now, not like the guitarist who sang that he was in the Healers. This is a man reborn with the causal swagger of confidence of making it n his own terms. Indeed his old singer is not missed on the two Smiths songs played tonight; with the second one, set closer “How Soon Is Now?” sadly being a little short.

There is a surprise in the unlisted first encore, The Clash’s “I fought The Law” (its not a Clash song- pedantic editor, it was written by Sonny Curtis of the Crickets and was made famous by the Bobby Fuller Four but the Clash version is definitive) ) is played, fantastic stuff!

A great surprise Monday evening out, the new stuff sounds great, & anyone thinking of going to see him on the upcoming tour should snap up tickets immediately before they all go. Johnny Marr is reborn and has finally stepped out from the shadows of some very varied frontmen. This time you see the man himself and we are liking what we see, it’s very rare for a guitarist to make that long walk to the mic in the centre of the stage. Being a skilled player is one thing having the X factor is another but Marr has got it.

Johnny Marr has just announced a full US tour – All dates here.

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