IT WAS a gig that was to go down in Liverpool’s musical history. Tony Wilson had organised for The Smiths, New Order, The Fall and John Cooper Clark to play at The Royal Court as a show of support for the 49 sacked Labour councillors who were facing an expensive legal battle.
The gig, christened With Love from Manchester, was an instant sell-out and lives on in the city’s musical memory – and in that of former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr.
“That was a great night, and what a landmark venue. That was like a hundred years ago but that night really sticks in my memory.
“I’ve played Liverpool with The Cribs and Modest Mouse in the last few years. That Modest Mouse gig was interesting. It was a really cold Sunday night but it felt like both us and the crowd were really enjoying something.
“Playing Liverpool is different from other cities. When you’re from Manchester you’re neighbours and you know a lot of people who are going to be there.”
Marr didn’t get the chance to go to Eric’s, but he was listening to the artists its post punk scene produced.
“I was the next generation so I missed out on all that, but I remember a lot of good records coming out of that scene – the early Big in Japan, Teardrop Explodes and Echo and the Bunnymen songs were great.
“There was a lot of music that we listened to coming out of Liverpool at that point,” he says.
Marr will be back in the city to play the 02 Academy later this month. It’s part of his tour to promote his debut solo album, The Messenger.
“It’s late in the day to be making my debut album,” he says.
“But it feels like early days again, which people might be surprised to hear. That’s one of the advantages of making your first record under your own name after having made so many with other people, it’s all fresh again.”
Johnny Marr plays the 02 Academy Liverpool on March 20.