“I am Human and I need to be loved”…

Johnny Marr – Leeds

So, armed with “most” the previous lessons learned, I headed to to see Johnny last night. I managed to follow all apart from one, in that due to time and everything going on, I was unable to listen to Johnny’s new CD. So other than a few bits of previous work, I was going in pretty blind.

That said, Johnny Marr is a bit of a strange hero for me anyway – let me explain. Of course I know The Smiths, however I wouldn’t class myself as a fan, though I do admire their work. I know a little of Johnnys work with the Cribs and Modest Mouse – and a bit of his solo stuff. However I was honestly introduced to his music via Mr Finn.

There have been various moments when Johnny has popped up on stage with Finn and each time, I have been captivated by him. There is just “something” likable about the man. Each time I “mean” to dig deeper, but then I just get sidetracked. But then I will bump into him at a gig and have a chat with him or his missus and it re: energizers my thoughts.

Last time that happened was at a Liam Finn gig in Manchester. A few of us were casually sat waiting for Liam to take the stage and Johnny saunted in, with his wife in tow and just sat in front of us. It was around the debut of Finn Seniors Pajama Club CD and we knew of Johnnys involvement. This led to us interrupting his night out, but he was such a gent and talked to us for ages.

So it was a no brainer to grab a ticket for this gig. I felt guilty at not hearing the new music before, but given I was confident it was going to be a rocking night, I felt pretty happy with the situation. The gig of course led me back to the Brudenell Club where I saw Ethan Johns. However, it was clear from the off that this was to be a completely different night.

The buzz was palatable on arrival. Many hardcore Johnny fans had arrived early and as luck would have it, Johnny was actually sound checking as I arrived. Due to the nature of the venue, only a thin glass door parted Johnny from the fans, so it was as good as being in the room and gave a good indication of what was to come.

Unlike the Ethan gig, there was no support. Just Johnny on a 9 and after firstly bumping into a Finn Frenz in the queue, then secondly having a chat with a lovely, if crazy, family from Hull, I got a pretty good position in the room. I had already scoped out the best place to stand whilst at the Ethan gig, so that worked really well.

The small place filled up pretty quickly and by 9, the atmosphere was electric and Johnny wasn’t to disappoint. Showing off his unrivalled guitar prowess, the showman came alive on stage with ease. He raced through a full 4 songs before acknowledging the audience with a simple “Cheers”. Being new to a lot of the songs was actually an advantage tonight, as I couldn’t really distinguish too many old v new, so I had no preconceptions – other than the Smiths songs.

So to my ears, they were all pretty fresh and sounded bloody good. There were a few audience interactions, including one girl near me who was desperate for Johnny to wish her and her man a happy anniversary. Johnny responded, but fell short of the request at that point, but circled back later to play them a tune. Whilst I can’t provide a set list, I can say that “How soon is now” and “Bigmouth strikes again” were 2 of the Smiths tracks on the night.

However, from the tracks I knew, it was  the rendition of Marr’s Electronic song “Getting Away with it” that was the highlight – Marr took this song to new heights, with an extended solo that we witnessed Johnny “lost in the music” – it was a joy to watch. The chatters behind me aside, the crowd were pretty respectful and “in the zone”. Most hung on Johnnys every word – not that there were many, but with his stage presence, I guess there doesn’t need to be.

Overall, it was a brilliant night and a much needed distraction. Though I didn’t actually get to speak to him, Johnny was gracious enough to sign Young Ollie a cd thanks to a young lass who nipped it to the private party back stage. I did, however manage a chat with Johnnys son Nile, who I had previously seen playing support for the aforementioned Pajama Club. Tonight he was guitar tech, but will be out on the road soon with his new band – another to add to the 40 list for sure.

Next gig is The Hollies next week in Harrogate. An impulse ebay purchase and whilst I think I only know a couple of their songs, I will probably know more. After that, its the Eels in Leeds and I really need to crack on and find a few more!

So, tonights song comes from Johnny Marr and the previously mentioned “How soon is now” and as with many Finn fans, it seems that the Marr hardcore are just as dedicated to getting the music out there as we are – so one kind fan recorded and put up the songs from last night already…


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