Returning to the stage for just the second time since his two night residency at Manchester’s Albert Hall in September 2019, indie legend Johnny Marr brought a set of tracks old and new to Blackburn’s King George’s Hall on Tuesday night.
Having recently released a new single and with multiple EP’s and a double album imminent, new music was highly anticipated and he dove straight in with an exhilarating new guitar fuelled track titled ‘Hideaway Girl’ before treating the crowd to ‘Panic’, which was the first of many Smiths offerings.
Marr’s anthemic new single ‘Spirit, Power and Soul’ sat in the set like it had been there forever, introducing us to an upbeat and euphoric vibe that’s prevalent in the majority of the new tracks; including the infectiously catchy ‘Tenement Time’ and bass-driven ‘Night and Day’. Though Marr’s far from a one trick pony and new track ‘Rubicon’ is a total contrast, with spoken word verses that sit alongside ominous instrumentation.
With the exception of new keyboardist, Scott Docherty, Marr’s been with the same band since launching his solo career nearly a decade ago and they’re tighter than ever – each of their talents shone their brightest during the biblical ‘Walk Into The Sea’ from Call The Comet, which saw the stage flooded in blue light, creating silhouettes that perfectly captured the brooding atmosphere of the track.
As he flew through a solid set of twenty one tracks, it was amazing to see how far Marr’s come as a frontman – from the way his voice soared through the more downtempo tracks such as ‘Hi Hello’, to the element of swagger that he adds to ‘How Soon Is Now’ and ‘Armatopia’, it’s easy to see that he’s more than comfortable in his role as a frontman and having the time of his life with it. He’s also exceptionally skilled when it comes to crafting a setlist – at one point following a medley of Electronic tracks ‘Get The Message’ and ‘Getting Away With It’ with Smiths classic ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ and an explosive new track titled ‘Sensory Street’ that’s sure to become a live favourite.
After a spectacular version of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ that saw the crowd singing and dancing from the front to the back, Marr ended the set with ‘Easy Money’ before returning to the stage for a four track encore. After kicking off proceedings with new track, ‘Counter Clock World’, the remainder of the encore was Smiths based – including a hauntingly beautiful version of the lesser played ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ and the musical masterpiece that’s ‘Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others’, with its transcendental riff. Last but certainly not least was the raucous ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ – a staple in Marr’s sets that’s more than worthy of its new place as the closing track.
Since their last run of gigs in 2019, Marr has been busy writing and recording and it’s safe to say that the band’s sound is bigger and better than ever. With his first of four EP’s, Fever Dreams Pt.1 out in less than a month’s time, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for us, especially if there’s another tour on the horizon!