WYEP Presents: Johnny Marr at Mr Smalls
Legendary UK indie rocker, Johhny Marr, is coming to Pittsburgh Tuesday, November 12 at Mr Smalls. (That’s tomorrow!) Marr’s career has spanned decades, filled with many notable milestones, perhaps most famously with his time as guitarist for The Smiths. Some tout The Smiths as THE first indie rock band to influence the mainstream. They blended indie, alternative, and pop sounds into catchy, intelligent songs about pretty bleak topics. SPIN magazine named their second album The Queen is Dead, number one on their “The Greatest Albums Ever Made” list in 1989. Maybe all that is a little before your time, in which case you may relate to his more recent work. In 2006 he helped Modest Mouse produce some songs on We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank, eventually going on to extensively tour with them in 2006-07.
There were several other important bands he played with between The Smiths and Modest Mouse. He sang alongside Paul McCartney on “I Saw Her Standing There”, briefly toured with The Pretenders, and recorded and toured with The The. After that he was involved in a lot of session work and writing collaborations with artists like Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Talking Heads, Beck, and Oasis. He also started Johnny Marr and The Healers in 2000 with Ringo Starr’s son Zak Starsky. In 2001, he participated in the supergroup 7 Worlds Collide consisting of members from Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Split Enz and more.
More recently, his projects and solo work have been equally as interesting. He played a large role in developing the score for the movie Inception, and has been working with Fender since 2007 on developing and designing his own guitar.
His debut solo album, The Messenger, was released in the UK in February of this year. According to Pitchfork, Marr said The Messenger was consciously crafted to appeal to his old fans, “I wanted it to sound effortless, not like I was trying to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “I’m not interested in trying to have people who might like other kinds of music follow me. I don’t want to please them.” Marr was also honored this year by NME with its ‘Godlike Genius’ award, hailing Marr as “not content with rewriting the history of music with one of the world’s greatest ever bands, The Smiths, he’s continued to push boundaries and evolve throughout his career, working with some of the best and most exciting artists on the planet.” That alone sums up the kind of legendary musician we’re dealing with here. Below is one of his singles from the album, New Town Velocity.
You can catch him at Mr Smalls on Tuesday night. Doors open at 8PM and tickets are $25. Meredith Sheldon, formerly of Family of the Year, will open for Marr.