On July 5, 2002 Jeff Stodel, [rhythm guitarist for the Sweet and Tender Hooligans],
and me [Jay Tando, a Totally Random Moz Fan], met with one Johnny Marr, formerly of some 80's Manchester "alternative"
band called the SMITHS.
Neil Finn, former frontman of the Split Enz and Crowded House, was in town for a show at the Hollywood House
of Blues and he had as a special guest the Mysterious Mancunian Madman himself as his lead guitarist for the second half of
A few hours before the show we tried our luck getting into the sound check. No problem. When we walked in,
there was nobody but a few sound guys and the band onstage. Johnny was testing out his mic and after a moment he stepped to
the side and the road manager was cool enough to let him know that we'd like to meet him. While there was a break in the sound
check, Johnny came over and noticed that Jeff had a guitar with him. [Jeff had purchased the guitar a few months ago from
a guy in England who said it was Johnny's when he was in the Smiths, and Jeff wanted to validate it's authenicity straight
from the horses mouth.] Johnny instantly recognized it as the one he had written "Stop Me If You Think That Youve Heard This
One Before" and used during the "Strangeways, Here We Come" sessions and then he took it and showed Jeff the chords for "Stop
Me..." and then Jeff, unable to resist, took the guitar back and serenaded Johnny with the opening chords to "There Is A Light
That Never Goes Out", with myself on reluctant nervous impromptu vocals. Jeff said "Jay I KNOW you know this!" and implored
me to butcher the first few verses. Johnny laughed, "Thats SPOT ON- youve got it right!"
He was very personable and seemed very down to earth and genuinely interested in chatting with us for the fifteen
minutes we were with him. We had a few questions for him in the blur:
Jeff asked Johnny what did he consider his highlight
of his career in the Smiths?
Johnny said every single thing they did was a highlight. He especially liked "That Joke Isnt
Funny Anymore"- and "How Soon Is Now ?" Regarding the former, he told us how excited he was in the studio when he finally
laid down the whining guitar bit at the end of the track. For the latter, Jeff said it seems as though "How Soon Is Now ?"
has become the "Stairway To Heaven" of our generation. Johnny just smiled and said that he was just starting to become aware
of the impact that the song has had. He also added an interesting factoid: he wrote "How Soon Is Now ?" and "Please, Please,
Please Let Me Get What I Want" in the SAME DAY!
We brought up the Ex-Smiths Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce and I commented that it appeared Johnny had buried any
hatchets and he replied that "he never had any hatchets to bury. If I saw them around, I would walk up to them and say hello."
Apparently all of the animosity was created by the press. He jokingly shadow-boxed as he described the medias portrayal
of the relations between his former band members. No direct mention was made of Morrissey- though he did say that "I love
all those guys. How can you play that many shows and spend that much time together in the studio and not love someone?"
I did NOT want to be the 1,000,000, 000-th dude to ask him about a possible Smiths reunion.
And then suddenly who should appear but NEIL FINN!! I got the privelege of a quick hello and handshake before
they were whisked away to dinner before the gig later that evening.
Later at the Neil Finn show, Johnny first came out unannounced early in the set during the middle of the Finn
song "Anytime" and played a beautiful riff on harmonica then just as quickly disappeared from the stage. He returned a few
songs later- this time introduced by Neil- to play lead guitar on none other than "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" with
Neil doing Morrissey's part on lead vocals. Both Neil and Johnny did a FANTASTIC job. He later played on several more Finn
songs and even sang a Healers song, "Down On the Corner" and then for the encore they played (OH MY GAWD!!) "HOW SOON IS NOW?"
with Neil doing a smashing job on lead vocals.
He introduced it by saying "We are about to do one of my favorite songs of all time!" and then Johnny
rips into the opening riff and the place went FUCKING NUTS!!!
An excellent night indeed.
FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2002
HOUSE OF BLUES - L.A., CA
DRIVING ME MAD
ONE STEP AHEAD
HOLE IN THE ICE
INTO THE SUNSET
LOVE THIS LIFE (Neil solo)
HONEY DONT THINK (Neil solo w/ Grant Lee Phillips)
FOUR SEASONS (Neil solo
w/ Grant Lee Phillips)
LAST TO KNOW
THERE IS A LIGHT* (Smiths song with
Neil on vocals)
DOWN ON THE CORNER* (Healers song- Johnny Marr on vocals)
SHE WILL HAVE HER WAY*
DISTANT SUN (Neil solo)
HOW SOON IS NOW* (Smiths song- Neil on vocals. Marr played harmonica as well as the famous
TURN & RUN*
* featuring Johnny Marr