Johnny Marr & The Healers At The Fonda Theatre
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By Nicole Pajer
Jangly guitar tones filled the Fonda Theatre on Nov. 2 as Johnny Marr & The Healers took the stage. The cheerful guitarist, loved by many for his work with the Smiths, kicked off the evening with tracks from his 2013 solo release, The Messenger. In addition to his latest material, Marr, clad in a blue velour sports jacket, appeased the '80s-loving fans in the audience with a few Smiths classics.
Three songs into the set, Marr addressed the crowd: "Uh uh uh, nice to see you Hollywood, California," before playing "Sun & Moon." As the song ended, Marr clasped his hands around the microphone and squawked into it. Following a round of applause, the British singer/songwriter chirped, "Cool!" He then asked the audience who was familiar with his new album.
"Who's heard the record then? You lying bastards," he joked. "That's OK. I won't take it personally. We're all here together sharing and I'm all about sharing!"
Marr introduced "The Messenger" by explaining to the crowd that "this next song is what, in the old days, people used to call the title track. I still care about that s***!" During the performance, Marr's drummer, Jake Mitchell, left his drum kit to play the song on drum pads. Marr dove into a melodic solo, while bassist Iwan Gronow and rhythm guitarist James Doviak instructed the crowd to clap a long.
Boasting pride for his home country, Marr explained he was infuriated after seeing a TV interview with a gentleman who had written a book about the UK's "crappiest towns."
"I thought, 'Wow, you pompous d***. I will get you! I will write an indie rock song and you will suffer!'" And with that he introduced the song he wrote in retaliation, "Lockdown." The band's performance of the fist-pumping song "Generate! Generate!" kicked off with Marr playing vibrato guitar and explaining, "This is for anyone who thinks they think too much. Don't think about it. Don't think twice. It's alright!"
Following a performance of the Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?" Marr left the stage, which led the crowd to collectively chant, "Johnny! Johnny!" Marr and the band returned to perform a five-song encore, which included a peppy cover of Sonny Curtis' "I Fought The Law," during which Marr soloed under the glow of a twirling disco ball. The show concluded with everyone on their feet, singing along proudly to the Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out." Marr then thanked everyone in attendance, while poking a little fun at Los Angeles: "You've been really nice to play to," he said. "You're not a bad looking bunch. It's OK! Not that you're worried about that I don't think."
My personal favorite moments from the set included the performance of the Smiths' "Panic" and "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want." I also really enjoyed Marr's latest single, "New Town Velocity," which was reminiscent of the Cure's '80s catalog, and "Word Starts Attack," which ignited Marr to jump up and down like a pogo stick while still maintaining his signature guitar swagger. I couldn't help but bounce along.
"The Right Thing Right"
"Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before" (the Smiths)
"Sun & Moon"
"The Crack Up"
"Panic" (the Smiths)
"New Town Velocity"
"Bigmouth Strikes Again" (the Smiths)
"Word Starts Attack"
"I Want The Heartbeat"
"How Soon Is Now? " (the Smiths)
"Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" (the Smiths)
"I Fought The Law" (Sonny Curtis cover)
"Getting Away With It" (Electronic)
"There is A Light That Never Goes Out" (the Smiths)
To catch Johnny Marr in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Nicole Pajer is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. She has written for a variety of publications, including Billboard, Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, Hemispheres, The Red Bulletin, Emmy.com, the Honda Civic tour, Coachella CAMP, and more. Follow her on Twitter @NicolePajer.)