Johnny Marr review: The sheer brilliance of Marr’s playing shines

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

Even as an indie-nut, I had always struggled to 'get' The Smiths, that was until the band's guitar genius Johnny Marr turned up at The Waterfront.

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

As raucous cheers greet the arrival of the band, you get the feeling they wouldn't need to see Marr to realise he'd arrived, his iconic jangling guitar sound is instantly recognisable even on unfamiliar material such as brand new opener Tracers.

Tonight's sell out crowd doesn't have to wait long for a familiar number, as Marr follows up with Smiths classic Bigmouth Strikes Again. The track is one of many of the band's songs aired by Marr this evening, however songs from his solo output hit just as hard, exploring uncharted territory.

Thumping synths reminicent of the fear inducing throb of Suicide feature on New Dominions from latest album Call the Comet, while a first-time cover of A Certain Ratio's Shack Up sees Marr transform into a Mancunian Nile Rodgers, laying down a glimmering disco drive.

On older material the sheer brilliance of Marr's playing shines, on This Charming Man his guitar chimes like heavenly bells, while the piercing riff from How Soon Is Now? cuts through the audience like a laser beam.

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant


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Sometimes when guitarists go solo they're found lacking on vocals (just ask Keith Richards), however Marr's voice is effortlessly perfect on every track this evening, none more so than on Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, where his vulnerable croon gives Morrissey a run for his money.

This Charming Man is clearly a welcome surprise whipping up a frenzy in the crowd, with Marr later joking "I usually ask if anyone's got any requests, but I've already played This Charming Man so you're all f*****".

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It's a testimony to Marr's solo work that the catchy sneering chorus of 2014's Easy Money receives a sing-along as enthusiastic as any other.

Marr, clearly enjoying himself, finishes with fan favourite There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, dedicated to "everyone who's come out tonight and f****** no one else", with the Waterfront crowd taking over on the chorus of "to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die".

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske

Johnny Marr turned at The Waterfront, Norwich. Picture: Casey Cooper-Fiske - Credit: Archant

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