Legendary Smiths guitarist gives Marr-vellous performance on home turf

  • Johnny Marr plays Manchester's O2 Apollo
  • Setlist includes a variety of solo work and hits from his days with The Smiths

A Gospel Guitarist 

On the night of Halloween 1963, a Manchester legend was born under the name Johnny Marr. Marr is a an award winning musician and cultural icon, known for his black mod hair do and distinctive guitar style. Having an interest in music from a young age, he formed his first band at the ripe age of just 13. He subsequently rose to fame as the guitarist of the band ‘The Smiths in 1982.

The Smiths attained great success, with Marr’s jangle pop guitar style becoming distinctive of the band’s sound. Since then, Marr has been a member of Modest Mouse and the Cribs, and has done solo work of his own, releasing three solo albums since 2013.

In 2010 the BBC labelled him the 4th best guitarist of the last 30 years and  in 2013, NME honoured Marr with its “Godlike Genius” award, saying: “he’s continued to push boundaries and evolve throughout his career”.

Even though Marr has achieved greatness, he remains one of the most humble musicians out there. He is a self-proclaimed family man and has been married to his wife Angie for 33 years. Marr also is an outspoken vegan and a proud Mancunian who sticks to his roots and can be often found eating lunch in some of the local bars and restaurants.

The legendary guitarist gives an epic solo performance on home turf

Light begins to bounce around the room, a disco ball twinkles as spotlights whirl around the venue before focusing on the stage. It’s a theatrical start as Johnny Marr steps on stage at Manchester Apollo for his sold-out homecoming show and the final gig of his UK tour. Marr teases the crowd by being a few minutes late, the inpatient chanting begins, “Johnny Johnny F****** Marr” there’s an essence of Mancunian pride in the atmosphere.

The spotlight is on Marr as he steps out, breaking into the vigorous guitar solo of his own song, The Tracers. Audience members squint through the smoke and spotlights, trying to follow the iconic Smith’s front man on stage. Audience members squint through the smoke and spotlights, trying to follow the guitarist on stage, he is a charismatic frontman, oozing cool.

Then Marr flawlessly transitions to the first Smiths song of the evening with ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ and the crowd rumbles. He transitions between world renowned Smiths songs and lesser known work of his own from his latest album, Call the Comet.

The Smith’s songs appear to get the most response from the audience, so the energy and the atmosphere jumps and dips. At one point he asks for requests from the audience and someone echoes through the room, “Kylie! Can’t get you out of my head”, he mumbles the words and practically butchers Kylies 00’s hit before altering into the iconic intro of ‘This Charming Man’ by The Smiths and the crowd goes instantly wild.

His guitar playing throughout is impressive, especially in his rendition of ‘How Soon Is Now’. Some of the audience are watching in a trance as he plays – a master at work. It’s apparent that this is where Marr’s skill set and passion truly lies, in playing guitar.

Marr dedicates his last song to the people of Manchester and with a last bit of gusto plays a perfect rendition of ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’, before exiting the stage to endless applause.