Saturday, November 16, 2013

Johnny Marr at Webster Hall's Grand Ballroom

Johnny Marr was born John Martin Maher in 1963 in Manchester, England. He had aspirations to be a professional soccer player, but his first band, the Paris Valentinos, at the age of 13, changed the course of his life. In 1982, at age 18, he and Steven Morrissey, formed the Smiths. Since leaving the Smiths in 1987, Marr joined the Pretenders, the The, Electronic, Modest Mouse and the Cribs, all for short periods, and performed as a session musician and soundtrack composer. In 2013, he released a solo album titled The Messenger.

Marr became known as a guitarist during the 1980s, when guitarists were falling out of fashion. With such a reputation in tow, one could have expected numerous extended guitar licks at his headlining concert at Webster Hall’s Grand Ballroom tonight. Instead, Marr kept the songs short and simple, even allowing his co-guitarist to play some of the leads. Marr performed "Getting Away with It" from his days with Electronic, and several selections from his solo album. Much of the audience came to relive the Smiths, however, and he performed six Smiths songs, including "Panic," "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before," "Big Mouth Strikes Again" and the final song of the night, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." Towards the end of the set, Marr introduced former Smiths bassist Andy Rourke, and performed together on "How Soon Is Now?" and "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want." The songs sounded noticeably rougher with Marr singing instead of Morrissey, and all in all, the show was more rocking than the Smiths concerts were. Marr has a long way to go, however, if he is ever to outdistance himself from his Smiths legacy.

Visit Johnny Marr at www.johnny-marr.com.