buttonJohnny Marr & The Healers

@ Shinjuku Liquid Rom(1st March '03)

Johnny Marr & The Healers

"Melodic Medicine Happily Taken Within Shinjuku's Liquid Room" Johnny Marr and his Healers plus 1 deliver 12 soul-enriching cuts, dispensing any notions that his virtuoso talents only lie within his well-documented guitar skills as he comfortably delivered his first frontman performance with his stripped down lineup in Tokyo
Johnny Marr & The Healers

But the road to both frontman and Boomslang was full of creative and challenging twists and turns, a true serendiptious journey as Johnny would most likely attest to before hitting just the right stride with his current lineup and heading into the studio. Before his Healers creation, Johnny had already enjoyed an acclaimed band membership in his longtime friend Matt Johnson's The The outfit as well as going on to form Electronic with New Order frontman Bernard Sumner. Despite this all, it wasn't enough as Marr still managed touring, production, and session work with The Pretenders, Talking Heads, Kristy MacColl, Bryan Ferry, Pet Shop Boys, Billy Bragg, Beck, and Neil Finn to name a few. In September 1999, Johnny formed the originally larger Healers' lineup and promptly took them to the Green Stage at Fuji Rock Festival '00. Yet soon after he realized it had gotten a bit too unwieldy and wisely slimmed it down to just bassist A! lonzo Bevan and current Who drummer and famous son of you know who, Zak Starkey. While doing so, the ever restless Marr somehow found time to do work on Oasis' Heathen Chemistry album as well as producer for Haven's debut release Between The Senses.

What happens when you are the guitar and music guru intricately responsible for the creation of one of the most unquestionably influential rock bands given birth in the early 1980's which then imploded at the peak of their popularity after a fiery, yet massively prolific and profound 5 years? Keep going that's what. Wasting little time in the wake of The Smiths' demise, Johnny Marr shortly thereafter harnessed his multi-dimensional and growing talents into a neverending string of highly respected and diversified endeavors. These kept him busy up to his ultimate decision to give life to not only his own band back in 1999, but also to his previously unforeseen emergence as lead vocalist of this outfit, beautifully coalescing in this year's debut release of Boomslang (Imusic/Artist Direct).

Johnny Marr & The Healers
Johnny Marr & The Healers
Now firmly focused on his current Healers lineup, Johnny, Alonzo, and Zak worked together to produce yet another fresh page in Marr's illustrious career with many more surely to come as they duly initiated a world spanning tour in January this year prior to Boomslang's release. With the touring addition of James Doviak on keyboards and guitar as well, Johnny and company recently landed in the warm and intimate confines of Liquid Room to dispense their much needed spiritual, soulful medication as they had just done so prior in Australia last month, opening for Pearl Jam's Riot Act Tour.

What had to be most noticeable this rainy, chilly night in Tokyo was that both rock 'n' roll and ourselves present were in the good hands of Johnny, James, Alonzo, and Zak as they churned out a most soothing ,yet still rocking performance that naturally covered their Boomslang release as well as tested out new material and an added bonus inclusion of an age old classic. Keeping it all rather simple on the surface, but rather complex underneath, this foursome led us on a most wondrous trek though music and words as the atmosphere inside was clearly full of awe and quiet self-analysis and resolve in this Manchester laid group therapy session.

Like any good thrill ride in your favorite amusement park, Johnny and his Healers provided all the requisite ingredients to satisfy us all with the given setlist. Whether it was riff-sharing roar of the 70's along with a skipping beat and pulsing bassline of the opener "Long Gone" or the neo-psychedelic trip definitely reminiscent of his The The and Electronic work to be found in the 3 part journeying of "You Are The Magic" or the disarmingly beautiful cover of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" or the harmonica-laden rollicking fun of "Need It," Johnny, James, Alonzo, and Zak kept a perfect sonic balance to the utmost joy of all.

Johnny Marr & The Healers
Johnny Marr & The Healers

Perhaps the answer to one of the lines of his encore closer "Bangin' On" can best descibe this night inside Liquid Room. In it, Johnny states "That's the way it is...What's so good about that?" My and our answer this night was a resounding plenty due to both this song's particular building melodic at! titude and resolve as well as that found within tonight's entire set. Indeed Johnny, keep doing just that. The world needs plenty of your collective medication.

Johnny Marr & The Healers

report by michael and photo by hanasan

--- set list ---


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