Johnny Marr + Nile Marr – Albert Hall, Manchester (5th September 2019)

A couple of months ago, Johnny Marr announced that he’d be bringing his ‘Call The Comet’ tour to an end with a two night residency at Manchester’s Albert Hall. Kicking off at Dublin’s Button Factory and spanning across sixteen months, the extensive tour has seen Johnny play a wealth of dates all over the world. Most recently, the guitar legend played a short run of UK dates in intimate venues – such as Hull’s The Welly Club – alongside his festival appearances.

Support came from Johnny’s son, Nile Marr, who also provided the support on Johnny’s previous run of dates at the Albert Hall back in 2015. Since then, Nile’s released his debut album ‘TV Broke My Brain’ under the name Man Made. A strong work ethic obviously runs in the family as once Nile had finished relentlessly touring the album, he joined Han Zimmer’s live band on their world tour. There’s no place like home and Nile returned to Manchester in May with a six night residency at Night and Day in May, with drummer Aden Peets and bassist Callum Rogers. Cementing their reputation as one of the tightest live bands on the scene, the three piece tore through a set of new material from their forthcoming album, ‘Are You Happy Now?’ Though the hits weren’t forgotten and the rhythmic ‘TV Broke My Brain’ in particular triggered a rapturous reaction from the crowd. Smiling from start to finish, Nile’s quite the frontman and if the infectious bassline and intricate guitar work of their new single ‘Part Time Girl’ alone is anything to go by, then their second album is sure to be a belter.

When it was time for the main set, the band walked onstage to ‘Time’ from the ‘Inception’ soundtrack; scored by Johnny and Hans in 2010. Maintaining the cinematically tensive vibe that ‘Time’ provided, Johnny kicked things off with ‘The Tracers’, before crashing into The Smiths classic ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’. Released as a stand-alone single earlier this year, the synth-splashed ‘Armatopia’ followed, showcasing Johnny’s confidence as a frontman as he swaggered about the stage with his Fender Jaguar in hand and danced along to the infectiously catchy chorus.From start to finish, the set list covered a large area of Johnny’s career; including his time in Electronic. ‘Get The Message’ had the entire crowd dancing, whilst ‘Getting Away With It’ delivered an almost biblical experience; with a disco balls and mirrors lighting up the hauntingly beautiful venue as the Guitar God made his way to the edge of the stage for the sublime breakdown that triggered everyone’s favourite “Johnny Fuckin Marr” chant.

Johnny mastered the skill of writing a strong setlist a long time ago and Thursday’s most certainly highlighted his versatility as an artist; from his performance of melodic crowd pleasers such as ‘Hi Hello’ and ‘Day In Day Out’ to dark and brooding tracks such as ‘Walk Into The Sea’ and The Smiths masterpiece ‘Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’ – the latter two serving as Johnny’s strongest and most emotive vocal performances of the night.

Of course, Johnny’s no stranger to an anthem and the phrase “the crowd went wild” couldn’t have been more apt for the moment that he burst into one of the most instantly recognisable opening riffs in British pop history; ‘This Charming Man’. Despite having three albums worth of solo material in his back catalogue, Johnny seems more than happy to share Smiths gems and the setlist was peppered with a fair few others; including in ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ and ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’. The set came to an end with the blistering ‘How Soon Is Now?’ – instantly identified by its swampy opening intro and sending shivers down the spines of all present in the 1900 capacity venue.

Fortunately, the night didn’t end there and Johnny speedily returned with not just his band, but also his son, Nile. The crowd were treated to double Marr as the pair teamed up to deliver a funky cover of Banbarra ‘Shack Up’ that had everybody dancing, before Johnny introduced a second guest to the stage; Doves’ Jimi Goodwin, armed with an acoustic guitar. Both Jimi and Nile contributed to the last two songs; the awe-strikingly sublime ‘Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want’ and ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’. Surely there’s no better way to end a hugely successful tour than with an epic rendition of ‘There Is a Light That Never Goes Out’ in your hometown?