Jep & Dep were a curious choice as opening act, their alt-country/folk sound quite different to that of the headliner but it worked extremely well. Dep (Darren Cross, ex-Gerling) and Jep (Jessica Cassar) displayed wonderfully balanced vocal harmonies with Cross’ moodier, outlaw country delivery complementing Cassar’s folkier, more ethereal voice. They played their Cave/Kylie take on the latter’s Confide In Me and their originals showed they have real songwriting nous in a genre that often trades in self-parody.
As the OAF curtains parted, the packed venue cheered in expectation as the diminutive and perfectly styled Johnny Marr strode on-stage before launching into his solo album’s opening track. Immediately the songs from The Messenger sounded a step up from their recorded versions with Marr’s voice in particular bristling with confidence. Most of the album was aired with the pop bounce of The Crack Up, the moody title track and the most Smiths sounding song New Town Velocity being particular highlights. Of course the crowd responded most fervently to the half dozen Smiths songs, placed perfectly through the set. Panic had the audience in full voice early on and it felt surreal hearing those opening chords to How Soon Is Now? played by the man who wrote them. Tonight was the last show of a tour that began in February 2012 and Marr looked both visibly sad and overjoyed, thanking band and crew with genuine emotion and vowing that 2014 was the year of living in the moment before bringing the show to a euphoric end with a cover of I Fought the Law, Electronic’s Getting Away With It and a moving There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, the perfect end to the show and tour. This was a man honouring his legacy while still creating in the present. As the t-shirts at the merchandise desk defiantly proclaimed… Johnny Fuckin Marr.
this review first appeared in The Music