Music review: Johnny Marr, Barrowland, Glasgow

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr
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“THIS is a disco song,” declared Johnny Marr before a dramatically rearranged version of Getting Away With It, his 1989 debut hit alongside New Order’s Bernard Sumner as Electronic, which here bore a loose, grinding, extended groove reminiscent of early Talking Heads. “It’s Friday now, right? The weekend starts here!”

It’s impossible to imagine Marr’s long-former Smiths bandmate and noted discophobe Morrissey engaging in such upbeat and light-hearted banter, but then it’s also hard to picture the bullish and controversial Morrissey of 2018 swearing off politics as Marr did here (“Is it just me or is all politics really s***? Don’t worry, I’m not going to go there…”)

Johnny Marr, Barrowland, Glasgow ***

The former Smiths guitarist is just here for the music, and he and his band create a convincing reconstruction of the past three-and-a-half decades’ worth. Of course, it’s hard to escape the towering legacy of his first band, and seven Smiths songs made it into the set, from Bigmouth Strikes Again to the closing You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby. Marr’s singing voice contains little of the poignant melodrama of Morrissey’s, but it’s a good enough analogue that even There is a Light That Never Goes Out still rang true, while his signature guitar sound churned through How Soon is Now?

A couple of Electronic tracks (Get the Message was the other) and a jokey extended cover of Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head aside, the rest of the show was filled with more recent solo material under his own name; not all of it vintage, but a lot very good indeed, including the recent fourth album Call the Comet’s pulsing, dramatic New Dominions and Walk Into the Sea’s moody Echo and the Bunnymen chime.

There’s much more it would be a thrill to hear from Marr’s prolific career – he’s also been a member of The The, Modest Mouse and the Cribs – but the current live show serves as an energetic primer. - DAVID POLLOCK