It’s quite possible that Smiths alumni have made more headlines in the quarter century since they called it a day than they did in their brief, but influential time together in the early and mid-'80s.
In these few first months of 2013, former Smiths front man Morrissey – always a good go-to for a stinging quip or sound bite – has already seen many a headline around his tribulations. Several dates of a stateside tour were cancelled due to ill health, and the recent passing of Margaret Thatcher – without a doubt Mazzo’s biggest political nemesis – resulted in what is likely the most severe thrashing of the former British Prime Minister amongst the U.K. rock elite.
Morrissey’s former band mate and songwriting partner-in-crime, Johnny Marr, has long kept a lower profile, but his post-Smiths musical endeavors have been long-covered and scrutinized by the music press on both sides of the pond.
A few months after Marr parted ways with Morrissey and Co. in the summer of 1987, he joined homeland art rockers The The and also lent his six string skills to sets and shows by everyone from Paul McCartney to The Pretenders to Talking Heads. At the beginning of the millennium, he formed and led Johnny Marr and the Healers and, for three years was a full-fledged member of Modest Mouse.
In February, Marr released his first proper solo LP, “The Messenger.” The first thought for many, understandably, would be to compare the songs on the solo set to his Smiths work, but to do so would be setting the 12 tracks that make up “The Messenger” up for failure; on the set, Marr proves he is still firing on all cylinders as both a tunesmith and guitarist and, with the Smiths’ comparisons removed from the picture, is a mighty satisfying listen from start to finish.
Here’s hoping, though, that the span between solo sets from here on out isn’t decades-long. With “The Messenger,” Marr has certainly created a foundation for himself to build upon with future solo works, which may be the most important accomplishment which the album provides .
Johnny Marr, 8 p.m. April 25, Metro, 3730 N. Clark St., Chicago. $29 (18 and older show). FYI: (773) 549-4140, METROCHICAGO.COM.
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Toby Keith, June 30, First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre (LIVENATION.COM)
The Mountain Goats, June 17, Lincoln Hall (LINCOLNHALLCHICAGO.COM)
The Black Crowes, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Charter One Pavilion (LIVENATION.COM)
Celtic Thunder, Oct. 18, Chicago Theatre (THECHICAGOTHEATRE.COM)
Dan Croll, June 22, Schubas (18 and older, SCHUBAS.COM)
311, Cypress Hill, G. Love and Special Sauce, July 3, Charter One Pavilion (LIVENATION.COM)
Titus Andronicus, May 4, Metro (18 and older, METROCHICAGO.COM)
The Jonas Brothers, July 10, Charter One Pavilion (LIVENATION.COM)