Live Review: Johnny Marr at o2 Apollo, Manchester – 18th November 2018

Sunday evening saw Johnny Marr bring his Call The Comet UK tour to a close with a huge homecoming show at Manchester’s o2 Apollo. An unsurprisingly sold-out gig and what a special night was had by all. For anyone who’s not been in o2 Apollo Manchester before, it’s a venue reminiscent of London venues Brixton o2 Academy, Kentish Town Forum and Hammersmith Apollo all combined into one. The sloped stalls area as well as the curved barrier make for a great viewing experience inside the 3500 capacity venue and the decor inside the venue is exquisite.

I’d never listened to Crewel Intentions before seeing them live but I’d heard so many good things and just wanted a surprise. The four-piece combine psych rock with something a bit more anthemic creating something rather unique but also charming. Their charismatic frontman, former member of Palma Violets, ‘Chilli’ Jesson, vanished into the poor stage lighting for half their set also complaining he couldn’t see the crowd. Clearly a band made to be playing stages bigger than where the lighting permits them anyway! The band only have two tracks online as of yet but their eccentric, live performance does them a lot more justice.¬†Also wow, what a drummer.

Chants of “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny Fuckin’ Marr” echo around the venue as the lights drop. Johnny Marr is joined live by his band which includes Iwan Gronow (bass/vocals), Jack Mitchell (drums) and Doviak (guitar/vocals/keys/etc) who have played alongside him on all four of his album tours. The band explode into ‘The Tracers’, one of the many tracks taken from Johnny Marr’s latest album Call The Comet which was released earlier this year. Marr drops a Smiths favourite ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ into the set before continuing on four-track run from the new album.

When you’re Johnny Marr you can do anything and no one will question your logic, even if that means dropping a somewhat impromptu Kylie cover into your set and half making it up as you go along. All the while it still sounding good. Following this, Marr dropped (teased) a brief five second interlude from the oh-so-recognisable Smiths tune ‘This Charming Man’. Of course, he didn’t play the whole track, but it was still a treat regardless.

Johnny Marr’s set lacked in his solo music that we grew to love over the first two of his solo albums and was heavily weighted with music from latest album Call The Comet for obvious reasons. However, Marr drops an impressive amount of The Smiths tracks into his set including ‘Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me’ which he’d not played on previous tours. ‘How Soon Is Now?’ closed his main set with a bang with ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ wrapping up the main set in style. He briefly stated that he was adding one more track to the set as it was the end of the tour, but he’d been playing it every night regardless and then launched into another The Smiths track, ‘You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby’.

Certainly an unforgettable homecoming for everyone involved.

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