‘Triumphant’ would be the adjective most readily applicable to Johnny Marr’s sold out return to Dublin show, a full-house Academy frequented by dewy-eyed men and women of a certain age, plus a smattering of younger folks. Drawing heavily from new album The Messenger, he plays – by my estimation – every song from it but one (‘The Crack Up’ the track to lose out, if you’re interested), hitting the ground running with opener ‘The Right Thing Right’. Still, as early as the second number he’s giving us one of those songs that saved your life, rather wittily ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’, and there will be several more before close of proceedings.
Electronic material features too, first with ‘Forbidden City’, and then during the encore ‘Getting Away With It’. Other Smiths’ songs given an airing are the relatively obscure ‘London’, ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ (dedicated to ‘Ger’, a fan who throws a Django Reinhardt t-shirt on stage as a gift), and culminating in the encore, which kicked off with a run through of Bobby Fuller’s Clash-tinged ‘I Fought The Law’, before ‘How Soon Is Now?’ and ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ send the crowd delirious.
If this all sounds like a mere exercise in nostalgia, it shouldn’t: the new material holds its own with the old, and Marr has transformed himself from sideman to frontman. Highlights from The Messenger are ‘Upstarts’ and Lockdown’, and kudos should go to the tight backing band, who Marr informs us are “…brilliant musicians, and my friends: no boring session guys for Johnny boy.” Still, I haven’t seen so many silly grins on Mom’s and Dad’s faces when departing a gig in I don’t know how long.
Photo: Debbie Hickey