Since returning from my month-long excursion to India this is the one gig that I had been looking forward to and the one that had been getting me through the struggle of being back in Blighty! The Smiths icon, Johnny Marr, is one of my complete heroes and for me one of the best guitarists that this country has ever produced! I already had bought tickets to this gig and getting to photograph was an absolute bonus
As you can most probably tell I have long appreciated the work of Johnny Marr from his days in The Smiths (I am big fan!) through to his work with The The, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. The guitar work that he produces on his signature Fender Jaguar is instantly recognisable and has been sound tracking lives for over 35 years. I’ve been fortunate to have seen Johnny 3 times previously and luckily when he played The Wedgewood Rooms in 2014 when he was joined on stage by Robyn Hitchcock to play ‘The Smiths’ number ‘Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want’ which is one of my favourite moments at the Wedge.
Johnny is out touring his third solo album ‘Call The Comet’ which reached number 7 in the UK album chart. The tour sees him take in Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow and Manchester to name a few. The album has received positive reviews from the critics with it being described as ‘easily his best solo work so far’ and I would have to agree. I was a big fan of the first album, not so much the second but this third is full of great material.
Brighton Dome is a majestic venue with the décor second to none, it’s one of my favoured venues and tonight would be the first time that I’d be photographing there. I arrived in Brighton quite early with some friends for a couple of beers before heading to the venue. We managed to catch a small part of the set from Crewel Intentions and I heard enough from them to want to catch them again sometime soon. Crewel Intentions are the post-project of Chilli Jesson who used to be in Palma Violets, for those of you who know, and has been likened to the likes of Nick Cave and also Richard Hawley.
Entering the pit for this gig was a surreal moment for me and one that was gone in a flash, the first three songs just disappeared! My friend later started speaking about Johnny playing The Smiths song ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ which I didn’t realise was played such the concentration to try and land the shot! Tracks from the latest album were heavy in the set as expected with these including ‘Hi Hello’, ‘The Tracers’, ‘Day In Day Out’ and ‘Spiral Cities’.
Along with Marr’s most recent album came a fine blend of his earlier work with The Smiths and Electronic, his project with Bernard Sumner (Joy Division, New Order) which saw them collaborate with Neil Tennant & Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) and Karl Bartos from Kraftwerk. This saw him play ‘The Headmasters Ritual’ ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’, the anthem that is ‘How Soon Is Now’ and one of my all-time favourites ‘Getting Away With It’, the solo in this track is absolutely superb and a great headphones moment for me.
A 4-track encore provided the end to the evening with Marr finishing with two splendid ‘The Smiths’ numbers, ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ and ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’ with both receiving a rapturous cult-like reception.