The Smiths formed in 1982. I was six, and only started listening to them in 1992 when my mate Liam did me a mix tape. Blew. My. Mind.
Here, at the Manchester Apollo, Johnny Marr dedicates a third of his set to Smiths’ tunes – and chooses purely belters as well. Bigmouth? Check. Headmaster Ritual? Check. Panic? Still Ill? How Soon Is Now? Check check check…
Morrissey’s voice isn’t missed at all. Johnny is more than up to the task, bringing a solidity and unfussiness to the proceedings. And the crowd are doing a lot of the work on these ones anyway – pints aloft, arms round mates – it’s that kinda gig. That’s not to say that this is some nostalgic wend down memory lane. Some of Marr’s recent work stands up (relatively) well against the Smiths’ catalogue. When I first heard Easy Money on the radio, I couldn’t quite place it. I thought I’d heard it before. It’s one of those tunes you think you’ve always known. A belter.
At one point, during Generate Generate, Marr starts pogo-ing. He starts bouncing up and down. It’s the sort of thing I would do if I were a rock star guitarist – but I would stop after 12 bounces. Maybe eight, with my knees. Marr keeps bouncing – not because he feels like he has to, but because he wants to. The tune compels him to. He doesn’t have to keep doing this. There’s enough in his back catalogue for him to just sit back and relax but, judging by tonight, there is more than enough to keep him, and us, bouncing.
Words and Images by Chris Payne