REVIEW: Johnny Marr at the Cambridge Corn Exchange

Johnny Marr gave a spectacular show in Cambridge yesterday (Tuesday). Picture: JON SHARD.

Johnny Marr gave a spectacular show in Cambridge yesterday (Tuesday). Picture: JON SHARD. - Credit: Archant

The glittering lights flashed intermittently, spelling out the word Playland, and a hubbub of anticipation swelled in the rapt crowd... we all knew it. Marr was back.

Wielding a Fender Jaguar, he took to the stage alongside his equally skilled backing band for an unforgettable evening of indie rock. He toiled for well over an hour, sweating and howling into the microphone while giving fans what they hear those stylistic Marr guitar licks in the flesh.

Some danced, some tapped their feet, and some pensively sipped their pints as he expertly mixed new material with Smiths favourites, keeping the audience on tenterhooks as every intro began.

Lead single Easy Money was head and shoulders above the rest of the songs from his second solo album Playland, with a catchy melody that kept you shuffling your feet and nodding your head until the end. Meanwhile, fast-paced track Boys Get Straight - a message which Johnny had emblazoned on his T-shirt - was the perfect soundtrack to let off some steam to on a Tuesday night. Candidate, which features that jangly guitar sound for which he is famous, also gave some downtempo respite when you were almost ready to drop.

But it was The Smiths’ songs that really took the level of musicianship into the stratosphere. For Panic, the crowd joined together in a chorus of “hang the DJ, hang the DJ, hang the DJ” that made you feel as though you were at a dingy club in the 80s seeing them the first time round. With The Headmaster Ritual, Marr proved that the years have done nothing to dull his shine. His little snippets of chat in between were entertaining in themselves, showing that despite his success he remains just as down to earth as ever. But it was for There is a Light That Never Goes Out that the crowd moved as one, singing Morrissey’s iconic lyrics “if a double decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die” at the top of their voices.

He left the stage to thunderous applause, and we soon vigourously stamped and clapped an encore. After a nail-biting wait, he swaggered back, slung his guitar around his neck and delivered the highlight of the evening - an impassioned rendition of Still Ill. It was only rivalled by an unexpected, energetic cover of Lust for Life by Iggy Pop.

If only Morrissey had made a surprise appearance - then it would have been pitch perfect.