Johnny Marr’s nimble, gleaming guitar parts were as essential to the Smiths as Morrissey’s biting wit and unique vocal prowess. The man’s a genius, and although he performs a number of his Smiths classics in concert, before last night he’d never before performed “This Charming Man,” arguably his finest collection of riffs.
That changed Sunday at the London venue EartH, where Marr closed out his main set by covering “This Charming Man” for the first time. After doing a few joking bars of Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like An Eagle,” Marr remarked, “OK, you’re right. It’s really funny shit to me that I know a Steve Miller song and I don’t know how to play ‘This Charming Man.'” When the crowd reacted with cheers, Marr continued, “Did you hear that? That was like a mass panic attack. A fucking English indie panic attack. I’m just fuckin’ with ya!” He then launched into the song, which remains transcendently great 35 years after its release.
Watch the performance below. The first clip is full-length footage of Marr’s concert, but the embed will take you straight to “This Charming Man.” The second clip is culled from someone’s Instagram story broadcast from the side of the stage.
In other Smiths news, the band apparently is a significant part of the plot of the new Transformers spinoff Bumblebee. Actor and pop singer Hailee Steinfeld wears a Smiths T-shirt in the movie, much like Shia LaBeouf wore a Strokes shirt in the first live-action Transformers film. But apparently it goes deeper than that. According to Morrissey-Solo.com, several Smiths songs are in the soundtrack, and Steinfeld’s character spends the whole movie trying to get Bumblebee, the titular robot car, into the band. Spoiler alert: Eventually he gets over his disdain for Morrissey’s voice and agrees. Huh.
#Bumblebee is TOTALLY an 80s movie in the BEST way possible. Has major Spielberg and John Hughes vibes. There's like 4 running Breakfast Club gags and @HaileeSteinfeld (who is great) spends half the movie trying to make Bumblebee appreciate The Smiths. Holy crap I loved that. pic.twitter.com/ZiyLfO2XOo
— Mike Rougeau (@RogueCheddar) December 8, 2018
Also, it’s great to finally have a Transformers movie that’s about something. #Bumblebee is a sweet, often thrilling movie about finding your voice with some pretty rad ‘80s throwback vibes. Fantastic soundtrack- if you dig The Smiths, this will be your jam
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) December 8, 2018