O2 Academy Brixton

Johnny Marr at the O2 Academy Brixton 23/10


This was originally planned to be a review, but after last night there is just no way I could give any professional unbiased opinion on something I became so emotionally attached to. Johnny Marr at the Brixton last night was the concert my whole life had been building up to. That isn’t even a statement of over-exaggeration. I wished so much that I could go back in time and tell 15-year-old me what my life has become, really one of those “it gets better” stories. Instead of crying on my bed to The Smiths I was standing in awe of the very musician that made me fall in love with music.

Marr’s set opened with the title track off his new album Playland – a whirling and powerful tune that was immediately followed by the Smiths classic “Panic”. Now Marr’s voice is nothing like Morrissey, but Morrissey who? He isn’t needed anymore. Johnny could pull off the vocals well enough on his own. In fact, the set included several big singles from the indie band like “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and “Tell Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before”. The nice touches were including the gorgeous “Still Ill” and “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”. During the latter, there was a beautiful and truly touching moment where the crowd sung their sick professions of love acapella: “to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die”.

But while the Smiths tracks were real crowd pleasers, Marr also made sure he promoted his two solo albums (which are very good in their own right). Singles like “Easy Money” and “Upstarts” from his first solo attempt The Messenger are quickly becoming classics. The problem is with going to see many established acts is that often listeners can become bored with the work they aren’t familiar with, but thankfully the set was engaging enough thanks to a truly great guitarist-turned-frontman. Tracks like “Boys Get Straight” and “Generate! Generate!” are a pleasure to listen to live.

After the band took their exit after the set. The crew began setting up a red semi-acoustic guitar which only proved that certain rumors were true. Marr came back on stage to introduce a friend he had known for the past 20 years. Someone who was a great songwriter and a promising future: Mr. Noel Gallagher. Even though most people in the audience were expecting it, they still went wild to see two of Britain’s most iconic guitarists on stage together, and it was really something special.


Gallagher joined for the the last two tracks – a cover of “Lust For Life” (here comes Johnny Yeeeeeen) and a truly incredible live reimagining of “How Soon Is Now”. Even after the final notes faded away and the two friends hugged and left the stage, I waited for something more. Anything more. This was the first show that I had seen in possibly my entire life that I truly felt upset by the ending. It ended perfectly but I just wanted it to never end.

Other than the concert finishing, the only criticism of the night had to be that there should have been more solo work. While much of the audience was waiting for The Smiths tracks, Marr’s career is so much more than that. Thankfully the setlist also included “Getting Away With It” from his work with Bernard Sumner in Electronic. The track showed off a bit of the depth that the guitarist’s back catalogue has.

If anything, Marr only continues to prove himself as a great musician. Not only has a guitarist, but as someone who can lead a band. Last night revived the dead inside me and reminded me what it’s like to love music but to be truly moved by it, and that’s a very special thing to achieve.





Jake Bugg live at the Brixton Academy 25/10

Last night was Jake Bugg’s final night at the Brixton Academy. His three-night stint was entirely sold out. Completely worth it.

I had been waiting to see Bugg for almost six months when I received the tickets for my birthday. To be honest, the anticipation was completely anticlimactic.

We arrived only in time to see opener honeyhoney (some idiotic American country/folk band that sings shit like “I ain’t no Southern Belle” and “I like whiskey when I’m sick. A man when I’m well.”) Thankfully their set went by quickly enough.

Now Mr. Bugg. The boy is 19-years-old and has the charisma of a piece of bark, but there’s still something about him that drove a packed house wild.

Some of his critics have whined that he needs to have a stage presence. That’s not what he needs. What Jake Bugg has that most musicians do not is two things. One, he is completely honest and still void of idiotic fame. And two, his music is still relatable to his listeners. It’s a trait is that is nearly dead. Musicians are so caught up in their own worlds they forget about the one they share.

The sound from the band last night was the best quality I have heard from any live act. Seriously. Bugg’s voice had the ability to soar straight through the crowd. Let’s hope he takes care of it so it ages more like Robert Smith and less like Dylan’s.

The setlist included favorites like “Lightening Bolt” and new singles “Slumville Sunrise” and “What Doesn’t Kill You.” The nicest surprise of the night came one song before the finale:

A lovely cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My.” Most of the audience seemed oblivious to the American songwriter’s tune, but you could tell the crowd was enamored. Guess how many of those kids will go home and unearth Neil Young in the morning?

The night was amazing. The venue was okay. But in the end, I’d say that Jake Bugg has all it takes to become important – he just needs to grow into his boots. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next.