Concert Review: Johnny Marr in Montclair, NJ

Review & Photos by Sean Gardner

Photos from the show!:

Johnny Marr's featured in our May issue-view/grab a copy here!:

On the first of May, Legendary Smiths’ guitarist, Johnny Marr, kicked off his Comet tour of the United States in Montclair, New Jersey, at The Wellmont Theater. According to Johnny, this tour got a delayed start, as it was meant to begin in Georgia on April 27th. “The man with the omelette on his head wouldn’t let us in,” he joked, blaming Trump for their difficulty entering the country from England.

Johnny Marr’s live shows are something like stepping into a time machine, and stepping out into 1980s Manchester, where The Smiths still top the charts. Marr includes a plethora of songs from his former band The Smiths in his current setlist, along with his solo music, and even a few tracks from his older side project with New Order singer, Electronic.

Johnny opened the set with The Tracers, off his latest record Call the Comet, followed by the first Smiths song of the night, “Bigmouth Strikes Again.” While Marr was not the original vocalist of The Smiths, in the context of a solo set, it is really something special; a unique voicing of classics that will leave any fan of the smiths dancing and smiling. The rest of the setlist included songs by Marr himself like “Easy Money” and “Hi Hello,” Smiths songs like “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me” and “How Soon is Now?” And even Electronic’s “Getting Away With It.

At the end of his set, Johnny called upon the audience for requests, to which he was met with an uproar of Smiths titles, all muffled by others. Among them he picked out someone shouting “This Charming Man.He began to pluck out the opening guitar riff, but then soon realized he did not remember how to play it. So he put his guitar down and finished the song, letting the band play it, while he solely sang the iconic “I would go out tonight, but I haven’t got a stitch to wear.” Johnny closed out the night with an encore set which comprised of “Rise” and “Bug,” and two more Smiths songs, “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet Baby” and “There is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which on the final chorus the band cut out, leaving only the audience to sing a repeated “To die by your side would be a heavenly way to die.” Singing the morbidly depressing, yet still somehow beautifully romantic lyrics, acapella in an echoey concert hall alongside hundreds of other Smiths fans was an incredible experience, and Johnny Marr brought that experience to a concert hall in New Jersey in 2019, all the way from England in the eighties, allowing fans who were too young to experience it back then to do so now, and allowing the older fans, to do so nostalgically.

Whether you know him from The Smiths, Electronic, or from his incredible solo records, Johnny Marr puts on an incredible live show, for fans of any generation. Catch him on the Call The Comet tour this spring, and listen to his latest album Call the Comet, available now.

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