all photos by Debi Del Grande - click to enlargeRumor has it that the Smiths have been repeatedly offered whopping seven-figure sums to headline the Coachella music festival in Southern California's Indio desert, but so far, that longed-for Smiths reunion has been a no-go. However, fans of the legendary Manchester post-punks still got a dose of (Morrissey-free) Smithery at Coachella this year--when the band's seemingly ageless ex-guitarist, Johnny Marr, performed no less than three Smiths classics during his Friday afternoon set in the Mojave Tent.
Songs from Johnny's just-released first official solo album, The Messenger, were very well-received by the Coachella crowd. But when the instantly-recognizably jangly first chords of the Smiths' 1987 hit "Stop Me If Think That You've Heard This One Before" rang out, it was pretty obvious from the heightened audience reaction that many of the spectators had heard this song before--and that they were delighted to be hearing it again from Johnny, truly one of the greatest guitar pioneers in alternative rock.
"You're a friendly bunch, so let's do something friendly," Johnny later said affably, as his way of announcing his second Smiths song of the day, "There is a Light That Never Goes Out." Johnny definitely seemed like the anti-Morrissey, all good vibes and happy banter, before wrapping up his set with the epic show-closer to end all epic show-closers, "How Soon Is Now."
Yes, a Smiths Coachella reunion would still be awesome...but until then, a Smiths-heavy Johnny Marr solo set will do quite nicely.
For more Coachella reportage, check out Yahoo! Music's 2013 Summer Music Guide.