Johnny Marr at Leeds O2 Academy

The Smiths guitarist turned front man, certainly hasn’t lost any of his style with age as he plays an electric, hit packed set to what is a mixed aged audience; seeing fans from all eras of Marr’s career gathering for the final night of his ‘Playland’ tour.

With the album title of ‘Playland’ illuminated behind Marr and his band in large letters, the Mancunian guitar hero breaks into the title track from his new album before delivering a superb rendition of Smiths classic ‘Panic’ with the crowd chanting ‘Hang the DJ!’ at great volumes. Announcing the weekend starts here of a Wednesday night is something few could get away with, but the crowd respond to Marr’s statement with much gusto, as they jump and sing wildly to single, Upstarts, taken from his first solo record, The Messenger. Following with new single, Easy Money, an iconic riff sent fans in to frenzy as its anthemic hook threatened to damage the ceiling of the academy.

Delivering a mixture of Smiths classics, tracks from ‘The Messenger’ and ‘Playland’ the set sees a perfect balance of new and old and fast and slow, incorporating ‘Meat is Murder’ and ‘New Town Velocity’ to slow things down, with Marr dedicating the later to ‘Anyone who’s in school or ever been in school or doesn’t want to grow up’. Taking the time in-between many songs to make ironic remarks about the inspiration for the new record is something Marr took to like a fish in water, passing comment about ‘ oiled up types’ who ridiculed him for how he dressed and his hair cut like Noel Gallagher whilst on a 1am walk in London. A t-shirt displaying the words ‘Boys Get Straight’ was available at the merchandise stand, something Johnny himself had worn multiple times across the tour. This is in reference to the song which he introduced by discussing the ‘deep philosophical question regarding getting f*cked up in Nandos’.

Footage from Tim Hamilton shows Marr on form at Leeds show on 29th October

Remaining effortlessly cool, the ex Smiths legend throws shapes and poses for the multitude of cameras inevitably focussed on him throughout the set, stepping up on the speakers and holding his trademark green Fender Jaguar aloft.With the night drawing to a close there is time for a couple more classics playing an incredible extended version of ‘There is a Light That Never Goes Out’ and ending with his next single ‘Dynamo’ tainted with an epic rendition of ‘How Soon is Now?’ Marr thanks the crowd for coming out whilst sporting a Childhood t-shirt, showing his support for the band that has trailed him throughout the whole ‘Playland’ tour. This incredible show from Marr was reflected in the joker-esque smiles all around leaving the venue, having just seen on of your musical heroes that's all you could do, gob-smacked with awe.

Words by Freddie Wells

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lauren@themusicmanual.co.uk