Flyying Colours proved to be an excellent choice of support. Energy, texture and dynamics rule their dense shoegaze sound and it sounded satisfyingly full and propulsive as the venue slowly filled. The quartet’s physicality on stage matched that of their songs and though the sound mix wasn’t great they set the scene nicely for the main act.
Amid clouds of dry ice and beneath a backdrop that loudly proclaimed JOHNNY MARR, the diminutive guitarist, songwriter and now singer strode on-stage. Then things went a bit flat. A lack of volume, the sound person still fine-tuning the mix and song choice all played their part as Marr delivered his recent album’s title-track and The Smiths’ ‘Panic’. The latter should’ve brought the house down but something was missing. The slow start soon gathered momentum though and by the mid-set double of ‘New Town Velocity’ and ‘The Headmaster Ritual’ the connection between band and audience was complete. Marr is a curious on-stage mix of a loosely swaggering Keith Richards, glam rock guitar hero poses and pop star mannerisms. He knows how to work the crowd with simple gestures and well-timed quips and beneath a few well aimed barbs at the audience’s lust for Smiths songs over his solo material he seemed to revel in the seminal works of his back catalogue. The defining moment came with “A disco song from Manchester” – a re-working of Electronic’s Getting Away With It’, followed by the melancholic/euphoric sing-along of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. Naturally he returned for an encore and took things into a dark throbbing realm with Depeche Mode’s ‘I Feel You’ and the closing gem of ‘How Soon Is Now’ that reminded everyone why he’s one of the finest guitarists of his generation who continues to write fine songs while still honouring those he built his career on.