Johnny Marr Gramercy Theater Thursday May 31st 2018 Reviewed
If your Facebook event says 7pm and the event doesn’t begin at 7- theres a problem
If your ticket says doors are 8 and the doors arent open at 8- theres a problem
If its posted the show begins at 9 and it doesn’t- theres a problem
If you’re Johnny Marr and you came to ‘fame’ being a guitarist for a angsty emo band and you have no front man- you have a huge problem.
Marr with freshly blackend hair helmet strutted onto the stage at 9:15 to one of the most unenthusiastic audiences I have seen in a great while. Despite lining up around the block on a misty humid night the tightly packed room almost breathed a collective sigh of distraction at Marrs. entry. Wheres the screaming? Where was the excitement, energy, anticipation?
Well it wasn’t at the Gramercy.
The even was in celebration of the soon to be new release “Call The Comet”, and the teeny room housed a blob of office drones with a few too many under their belt. Loud obnoxious and lacking any sort of social grace the tired crowd gave a tired welcome to a tired man. The problem with having no charisma is that you need to up the ante with some sort of clincher. A gifted guitarist does not necessarily make a front man. Hes only 54. He looks 74 with pasty skin, fake black hair smear and a uncomfortable stage presence makes this former Smith a present awkward vision.
He tried, heaven knows he tried. Throwing out questions “c’mon someone out there must be in the music business’ (fair note- this audience was actuarials, and customer service office managers and a couple of college kids who discovered the Smiths last week) or doing this odd sort of rock God Posing (it was like a pipe cleaner man in a shoe box diorama)
But wait he tried. The new songs arent bad- recorded. I think I may even be able to appreciate the new album, via headphones or speaker. But visually, Im sorry to say it doesnt fly, and last night the sound- was catastrophic. Bass distorted, muddled and heavy you couldn’t even appreciate any guitar work. The electronic drum- jarring and out of place (are the Flock of Seagulls back?) The mixing board must have been asleep to not realize how far off those levels were. Mr Marr, listen to the tape- I’m not joking.
OK so maybe the man was ironing out glitches as he prepared for the newly announced autumn tour dates. Maybe we were supposed to feel honored to be in this small venue with a legend and maybe- just maybe Marr needs to admit that he simply doesnt have the command of the stage to showcase his command of guitar. But dont let me be a Debbie Downer- again the tracks I could decipher werent bad, they wont rocket him up the charts but they will fill the background of some office drones drab work day and unlike his former Smith cohort Marr actually showed up to perform (kudos bro)
Truth is something fabulous could have happened but I cut out of there at half time. Too dismal a sound quality, too pasty a ‘front man’, too bored a band( could they have had less energy or personality?)
If you attend a concert for your ears alone- give it a shot at a larger venue and pray for a more skilled sound engineer (or improvement of this touring sound guy) and hang back so the view is obstructed- but if youre there for a full on rock show- youve got a problem.