By Jeevin Johal
The Vogue Theatre
Sept. 20, 2018
Over the decades the name Morrissey has become less synonymous with 80’s sad saps, the Smiths, and more so with his crippling inability to go through with any of his scheduled gigs… oh and he’s said some racist shit in the media also. But as the once cherished lead singer continues to tarnish the group’s iconic legacy, guitarist Johnny Marr, the founder and true soul behind the band’s melancholy mystic, continues to experiment and expand upon sounds from decades past.
Blue lights dawned the stage as Marr, with a flawlessly trimmed fringe of jet black hair, rang out a distorted growl on his signature Fender Jaguar before tearing into “the tracers,” from his latest album Call the Comet. The evening would include a number of tracks from his solo releases, but Marr ain’t stupid. He knows what the people want, and so of course there would be nuggets of gloom from his past repertoire sprinkled throughout the evening. Second track in and Marr, bathed in orange glow, jumped right into “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” from the Smiths 1986 masterpiece, The Queen is Dead. “The Headmaster Ritual,” would be the next quintessential gem lined up to which he remarked, “ya that’s a good one,” as the crowd relived past glories. Of course it was the mighty tremolo from the first strum of “How soon is now?” that really got the theatre bumpin.’
Let us not be mistaken, there is so much more to Johnny Marr than just the Smiths. Since his tenure with the band came to an end, he’s collaborated with a number of renowned artists, including fellow New Wave blood brother, Bernard Sumner of New Order fame. “This is a disco song from Manchester England,” smiled Marr as he boogied down to “Getting Away With It,” from their 1991 self titled album, Electronic. The clever one liners continued until the very end when just before the Smiths, “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” Marr so lovingly declared, “I’d like to dedicate this song to everyone here, and nobody fucking else.”
Although Marr has never achieved the virtuoso status of some rock shredders, he certainly belongs on a list among the greats. He doesn’t just walk on stage and wank off on his arsenal of Jaguars. Rather, he’s a crafty player whose moody melodies create a canvas for his comrades to flourish upon. Also, real talk: There is no such thing as the “Oasis haircut.” Liam and Noel Gallagher did not canonize the neatly trimmed bangs with long sideburns. It was Johnny fucking Marr.The Vogue Theatre