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Johnny Marr and The Healers - Deaf Institute Manchester - 4/6th October 2011

The city has been buzzing since the announcement of Johnny Marr’s hometown comeback gigs. He left The Cribs earlier this year after spending longer than he expected with the band.

Marr has always had a certain panache, whether he’s performing with The Cribs, The Healers or from past performances with The Smith’s, Marr holds his own and has his own distinct style, Fender on hip, expensive smooth fitted shirts with scuffed up tinted hair.

The Healers take their places, Marr is the last to grace the stage. He launches straight into Shakespears Sister and with his guitar slung low he spritely strums away at the chords and sings in lyrical perfection to the old Smiths tune.

He looks slightly nervous onstage, maybe he’s unsure how the audience will react to his vocals singing those late 80’s hits in place of the infamous Morrissey. But they sound just as great now as they did before the bands demise.

The audience seem more vibrant tonight than they did on Tuesday, there’s an assortment of faces in the audience tonight (Thursday) and it’s good to see that the younger generation have turned out to see one of Manchester’s rock icons performing live for his hometown comeback gigs. Some of the older generation (who were around the first time round) are thrilled to be just feet away from their adolescent hero. And it’s good to see that so many people have turned up considering the torrential weather outside.

Marr performs a repertoire of songs, along with The Smiths golden oldies. He showcases a batch of new material, which is compelling, he is just as dedicated to this band as he was The Smiths or Cribs. The audience are appreciative of his work as he puts on an exhausting performance.

Upstarts and Generate! Generate! are catchy songs, each with a great chorus and melodic hooks. You can feel the build up to Sweet and Tender Hooligan, and despite a technical problem he’s pitch perfect. His guitar is ‘tweaked’ by the Tech guys and it’s back in place resting on his hip before the end of the song. Word Starts Attack is the last song as they leave the stage for a few minutes.

Marr returns on stage in the same sweat drenched green fitted shirt. He stands proudly in front of his fans, The concert hall is bursting at this intimate venue, with its wall of speakers and unforgettable red parrot wallpaper.

Marr engages us with the first chords of Eric Burdon and The Animals hit It’s My Life. He puts all his energy into it and sings it with a slightly grittier tempo.

There Is A Light, which he dedicates to the late Bert Jansch, sends the masses into a frenzy. The old floorboards of the concert hall groan under the pounding wave of euphoria, a volcanic cheer goes up at the end.

As Marr leaves the stage he briskly shakes hands with fans on the exit route to the stairs. The shows over – it’s time to go home.

Words & Photos: Amanda J Window


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