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Film, Album, Single and Event Reviews

Live Review: Johnny Marr at Bestival 2013

  • By Art. Author Avatar
  • 8 Sep 2013
  • Event Date 9 Jul 2013
Johnny Marr at Bestival 2013

Johnny Marr at Bestival 2013

Johnny Marr review - Bestival 2013

It is easy to run out of superlatives for Johnny Marr. For all of his achievements with the Smiths, his CV is packed with highlights, boasting stints as part of Electronic with Bernard Sumner, Modest Mouse and up until recently, the Cribs.

Cut loose from the latter, he arrives at Bestival and seems intent to impress. On his 2013 solo record, Marr’s biggest weakness are his lyrics. They lack a sophistication, and honk with a clunking howl. This is a pity, for the tunes are strong. 

In a live setting, where everything is cranked up to eleven and the focus is his guitar, his voice and his tight backing band, any hang ups about the lyrics seem irrelevant. We all know they are not, but when you are faced with such a dazzling display of musicianship that transforms the atmosphere around it, forgiveness isn’t really so hard.

Strutting the stage with a cocksure elegance, his nimble finger work and snaking guitar lines glisten. Initially drawing a modest crowd, the Big Top is soon filling up with festival attendees drawn in by the elegant and punchy melodies. This is aided by an early appearance of ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’ that chimes with its beatific melody and its urgent crescendos. 

A mid-set ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ is wonderful. Both ‘Upstarts’ and ‘Generate! Generate!’ shake and twist with conviction. Surprisingly, they hold their own in this hallowed company.

By the time he unveils a surprise cover of Sonny Curtis’ ‘I Fought The Law’, followed by ‘How Soon Is Now?’ and a closing ‘There Is Light That Never Goes Out’, the tent is a heaving mass, arms aloft and surrendered to music that can barely be contained in the Big Top.

‘This is the best I’ve felt all day’, Marr says from the stage. Same here, Johnny, same here. The crowd chant his name in one of the most rapturously received sets of the weekend so far.

Johnny came lately, and he absolutely conquered.

Written by Greg Wetherall

Johnny Marr review - Bestival 2013


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