Engine Rooms, Southampton

Johnny Marr

A truly last minute decision by my best buddy means I don’t stay in, but instead purchase one of the last tickets available for the legend that is Johnny Marr. By 11.05 pm I realise this was a good decision!

A packed house; even at 8.15, eagerly awaits the headline act. First up though are local rockers Dolomite Minor. This two-piece have become 3 for tonight’s performance as they casually take to the stage. One word defines their set-LOUD! Their dark, brooding sound is heavy from the off. I’m reminded of Wolfmother (minus the vocals) – huge chunky riffs bury the drums, while the occasional keys are often lost in the mix. The song endings (in my opinion) need a little work and despite only paltry applause they battle on and just get louder! One can always gauge a crowd’s opinion when hearing chatter between songs. Sadly for Dolomite Minor it’s loud, however they seem to be oblivious to it and get heavier, sounding more like Black Sabbath toward the end of their set. Maybe in a smaller setting with an understanding sound engineer they could pull it off, but tonight in such great company they were never gonna steal the limelight. I wish them well.

Dolomite Minor
Dolomite Minor 1

And so to the headliner. Johnny Marr needs no introduction. With a huge back catalogue to choose from I look around me at tonight’s audience, and I realise we’re all here for the classics. With no setlist to go on I will focus on the songs I remember and the whole feel of the gig. Huge applause reverberates around the room at 9.30pm as Johnny and band take to the stage. He opens with one of his own songs before getting us onside early with “Panic”. There is so much love in the room for this man and the largely middle-aged crowd I feel, (myself included) want to hear more Smiths songs. “Easy Money”; although not my favourite song, goes down well and we don’t have to wait long as he soon performs ‘Rusholme Ruffians’ to great applause. Johnny uses the stage well and if I’m honest the sound is comparably better than for the support-loud but not deafening.

More classics follow with a great cover of Depeche Mode’s “I Feel You” – hearing someone other than David Gahan singing this song really is quite special. Johnny offers a “newie” in the shape of “Spiral Cities” which doesn’t disappoint while Electronic’s “Getting Away With It” garners the first of many big singalongs. However, when the opening bars of “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” start, a few punters around me become more energetic and this Southampton crowd suddenly come alive. More Smiths classics are offered including “Bigmouth” and a passionate “Stop Me…”. By now he has this crowd eating out of his palms. He ends the set with a cover dedicated to David Cameron-cue The Primitives “Crash” and we all go wild!

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr 1

Johnny and band return for a 3 song encore, culminating in a chiming guitar-driven “How Soon Is Now”. Again we all sing along while showing huge adoration. With a back catalogue as big as his and more new material planned it’s great to see Johnny back touring the length and breadth of the country – long may it continue.


Review and Pictures by Ross a. Ferrone

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