When I saw Johnny Marr last November, a man behind me insisted on loudly singing ONLY the Smiths songs that were in Marr’s set like some weird, personal Morrissey cosplay.  I’m happy to say that this album does not feature that man singing, which I think we can all agree is better for everyone involved.

Marr had talked in the past about releasing a live album with his solo band coming off of their two back-to-back tours and subsequent albums, and this is it.  What Adrenalin Baby gives us is a crisp recording of a very tight band fronted by one of rock’s greatest.  What it doesn’t capture, unfortunately, is the extremely high energy of Marr and his band in concert.  The paradox of the live album, indeed.

There are definitely some bangers, though!  “Easy Money” is always a perennial favorite, with its hyper-catchy guitar riff and lyrics that beg you to sing along, and this live version is pretty good at capturing just how hype the song gets live.  “The Right Thing Right” is brisk and cool, with a really catchy chorus situation.  One of my favorite Marr songs, “New Town Velocity”, is beautiful; for a slower song, all its intricacies are really brought to the forefront here, in what is unquestionably one of the coolest live show experiences.  And “Back in the Box” goes off in a way that is as close to capturing the live experience of Marr as you can without actually being in the same room with him.

The Smiths covers are all fine and dandy, certainly.  I particularly like what Marr does with “Bigmouth Strikes Again” and “The Headmaster Ritual”, and while “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is no slouch by any means, it’s so common that it’s almost not a big deal anymore.  The real shining star of the album AND Marr’s live show is “How Soon is Now?”  Though it’s about as ubiquitous as “There Is a Light….” I can safely say that it is incredibly cool to see it live and, as a set closer, it’s unrivaled.

I’m also going to throw him mad bonus points for such a cool Clash cover.

I really love Johnny Marr’s work, and I think his live show is pretty tops, but this album doesn’t necessarily capture the energy and the excitement of seeing one of the raddest guitarists in history live.  It’s good, and the songs all have a really great quality and bring the heat, but if the purpose of a live album is to totally capture the live experience, this isn’t entirely it.


Overall Score
85 %

It's tough for live albums to live up to the hype.

Songs 90%
Clarity 95%
Energy 80%

About The Author

Self-deprecating fundraising lackey, avocado connoisseur, pop culture aficionado, latte-drinking liberal elitist.

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