Johnny Marr is undisputed music royalty, idolised as a king, if not a god, by fans of The Smiths, Modest Mouse, and Electronic (a sliver of his myriad projects). Thus, news of his return to Norwich evoked a wave of anticipation, spearheaded by memories of his melodic, chirping guitar and melancholic lyrics.
Though, if Marr is Britain’s musical monarch, it follows that Crewel Intentions are in line to the throne. Led by Chilli Jesson, formerly of Palma Violets, Crewel Intentions represent everything that is right and true about being ‘up-and-coming’. Instead of endless indie simulacra, all derived from apparently the same bland source, Jesson’s band immediately hit you with a wave of nostalgia and heart. Their songs are human and, therefore, perfectly imperfect: slightly distorted, tinged with cigarette smoke and the right amount of edge. At moments they are even uncomfortable.
Hans Zimmer’s Time pulsated, blue lights ballooned and consumed the room, and Marr took to the stage. Beginning with The Tracers from his new album Call the Comet, and progressing into a flawless rendition of Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths, Marr began his comprehensive set.
Drawing from their beloved back catalogue The Headmaster Ritual, Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, How Soon is Now?, and There Is A Light That Never Goes Out were all played, and the audience became Marr’s backing choir. It is true that Morrissey’s iconic, lackadaisical crooning makes these songs, but Marr challenges this notion; his voice still has it, and the evidence carried through everyone’s ears.
His back catalogue dive also included Electronic’s classic Getting Away With It and Marr’s Bug, played in honour of a certain American ‘who looks like he’s got an omelette on his head’.
The near-perfect night ended with a sense of fulfilment and hope.