Just in case you were wondering about tonight’s headline act, as soon as the lights went down, the crowd left you in no doubt that a legend was about to take centre stage… “Johnny. Johnny. Johnny fucking Marr! – Johnny. Johnny. Johnny fucking Marr! ”
The protagonist takes the stage and ploughs straight into the title track from his latest solo venture, ‘Playland’. Looking sharp in black jacket and red and white polka dot shirt, it’s only Johnny ‘Fucking’ Marr, the most influential guitar player for the past 30 odd years.
BOOM! Second song in and the crowd are given their first taste of what many crave. ‘Panic’ is the first of six Smiths numbers, and the response is wild. Memories of The Smiths heyday coming flooding back. Arms are held aloft and voices soar as everyone joins in.
It sets the tone for the evening. ‘Right Thing Right’ leads into ‘Easy Money’ and once again the crowd are in full support on vocals. All the while we are treated to a master class in Fender handling. It’s slung almost nonchalant from the hip, swung round as if stuck to his hands, cradled preciously and brandished before us.
Mid set Johnny takes time out to regale the local crowd. Fondly recalling his pre-Smiths days spent working at X Clothes in both Manchester and Sheffield. He credits the Sheffield music scene as been on a par, or even better at times, than that of his home town.
After tripping back in time to 1985, we are brought right back to the here and now with ‘I Feel You’ – (the Depeche Mode cover version to be released as the A-side to Johnny’s Record Store Day 7”) It’s given the full jangly guitar treatment that we have all come to love and respect and is a fine addition to the set.
More of Johnny’s solo stuff follows, including a blistering version of ‘Generate! Generate!’ and just for good measure we are thrown ‘Getting Away With It’ from his days with Bernard Sumner in Electronic. But of course it was The Smiths where he made his mark and he’s only too happy to acknowledge this. The main set closes with ‘There Is A Light’ and I dare say that by the end of the first verse more than the odd punter had a tear in their eye.
An encore is inevitable, but how do you follow what we’ve just seen and heard? ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ that’s how, and in a heartbeat a really great gig turned monumental.
The sweeping riffs of ‘How Soon Is Now’ fill the room and the crowd goes mental. Singing and dancing along from all areas of the floor. As the song closes he raises his Fender triumphantly above his head, leans back and absorbs the accolades. Johnny Marr, ‘superstar’ – thanks us all for coming waves and leaves the stage.
Johnny Marr live at the Leadmill, Sheffield 20th March 2015 is easy to sum up in one word – Awesome!
GALLERY – (just click on any image to enter the gallery and see each pic full size.)
SETLIST (Kindly signed by the man himself – cheers Johnny!)