Gig review: Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr - wowed the crowd at Leeds O2 Academy.
Johnny Marr - wowed the crowd at Leeds O2 Academy.
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JOHNNY MARR clearly likes Leeds. The former Smiths guitarist - who turns 51 on Halloween - has played in this city six times in the past year and a half - three of those at the Brudenell Social Club, a venue, he reminds us tonight, where he tends to start tours.

Tonight he’s winding up his UK dates to promote his new album Playland at the O2 Academy where he made a guest spot with one of his old bands, The Cribs, last Christmas.

As if to reinforce the point, he and his three-piece band kick off proceedings with the album’s title track, with its name emblazoned in gold flashing lights behind them.

But he’s quickly into more familiar territory with a crowd-pleasing rendition of The Smiths’ classic Panic.

It sets the pattern for the night - smatterings of new material - Easy Money, Candidate, Back In The Box - sandwiched between some of the highlights of a compendious back catalogue that goes back 30 years.

From the reaction of a packed house it’s perhaps the older songs that many have come to hear and the ever canny Marr delivers them generously. The Headmaster Ritual, Bigmouth Strikes Again, Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out prompt nostalgic mass singalongs, actively encouraged from the stage.

If New Town Velocity inspires memories of Marr’s late 80s collaboration with Bernard Sumner, there’s an actual Electronic track too - Getting Away With It.

Casting off his buttoned up pink shirt in favour of a T-shirt plugging Childhood, tonight’s support band, Marr encores with more songs from the past plus his punchy new single Dynamo.

Still Ill and How Soon is Now may be three decades old but their chiming arpeggios sound as glorious as ever; Marr’s voice also makes a very decent substitute for his former bandmate Morrissey’s. A feisty Lust For Life honours old hero Iggy Pop.

Tonight Leeds got what it wanted from one of rock’s finest guitarists.

Gig date: October 29

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