Thursday 21 November 2019

Johnny Marr at Olympia Theatre, Dublin review: 'Marr's magic is a light that never goes out'

Johnny Marr:
Johnny Marr: "If you are lucky enough to have written songs people have grown up with, you should play them".
Eamon Sweeney

Eamon Sweeney

Rock biographer Johnny Rogan published a best-selling book entitled Morrissey and Marr: The Severed Alliance on the song-writing duo behind the Smiths back in 1992. For his troubles, Morrissey said he hoped Rogan "ends his days very soon in an M3 pile-up."

The other half of the severed alliance is on-stage in the Olympia, triumphantly milking the applause and adoration of an appreciative audience. Morrissey may possess more box office clout, but Marr's fans are equally enthusiastic.

After years as a prolific gun for hire with The The, Talking Heads, Modest Mouse, The Pretenders and Noel Gallagher, plus co-writing several hits with Bernard Sumner of New Order as half of Electronic, Marr has stumbled upon a rich vein of solo form in recent years. He has released two well-received studio albums since 2013, plus a brand new live album called Adrenaline Baby: Johnny Marr Live.

There certainly is a surge of euphoric adrenaline when he pulls Smiths' favourite 'Panic' out of the locker early on in the evening. Alongside recent solo favourites, such as the single 'Easy Money', Marr chips in an impressive selection of Smiths anthems; 'The Headmaster Ritual'; 'You Just Haven't Earned it Yet Baby'; 'How Soon is Now?'; 'There is a Light that Never Goes Out', and 'Bigmouth Strikes Again'. The former features one of the best guitar solos in rock history. To see its creator perform it live in the fresh is awe-inspiring, and gives credence to the editor of Mojo magazine's contention that Marr is "arguably Britain's last great guitar stylist."

Marr lobs in another curve-ball into the set list when his son Nile, who sings in the support band Man Made, joins his legendary Dad to perform a frenzied version of 'Crash' by the Primitives. The Manchester City supporting singer and guitar god turns 52 on Halloween, but looks like a man nearly half that age. Being a teetotal vegetarian and avid runner clearly reaps its benefits. Playing gigs like this must help too, as Marr's magic is also a light that never goes out.

Johnny Marr: 'I'm often asked to tell my story - eventually I couldn't turn it down' 

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