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It has been said that ex-Smiths frontman Morrissey was about wearing one’s politics on your sleeve, while lead guitarist Johnny Marr was about the music. After the Smiths disbanded, Marr’s signature guitar sound cropped up in his collaborations with Bernard Sumner (in Electronic), Bryan Ferry, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs—-though Morrissey proved to be much more enthusiastic about releasing solo albums. That is until this year, when Marr released his debut solo album, The Messenger. Monday night, he stopped by the 9:30 Club to let us hear it live, and he and his incredibly tight band did not disappoint.
It’s not surprising Marr still knows how to play the hell out of a guitar. But who knew he could sing, too? The set comprised a mixture of his solo tracks, a couple of songs by Electronic, a cover of The Clash‘s version of “I Fought the Law,” and five Smiths songs. Marr chose to sing in his own tougher, punker way, rather than imitate crooner Moz, which lent some freshness to songs like “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and “London.” Here’s hoping we see more Marr solo material in record stores—-and soon.
See photos from the show in the gallery.
Due to a reporting error, the original version of this blog post misidentified the songwriter of “I Fought the Law.” It was written by Sonny Curtis, not The Clash, though the British band famously covered the song.