Coventry Collosseum

Marr rolls out new band in tune-up for Oasis shows...

It’s known as the “and the” syndrome. One in three 40-something rock stars don’t even know they’ve got it. Symptoms include a burning itch to make a clean break with your illustrious past of failed super-groups and perennially adored ’80s beat combos.

Tonight however, throughout the premiere live performance of his new band, Johnny Marr And his Healers jig around the miniscule stage at the Coventry Collosseum like lepers cured. And for the most part, the diagnosis is convincing. ‘Last Ride’ is a lofty slab of mountainous rock, which sounds like The Verve after prolonged exposure to sunlight, and ‘Down On The Corner’ bobs and skanks with shedloads of organ tickling dancehall insouciance.

Thankfully, the novelty of at last hearing Johnny’s endearingly snarly singing voice doesn’t wear off until the band return for a slightly gratuitous encore. Towering ex-Kula Shaker bassist Alonsa Bevan supplies backing vocals and offers a refreshingly funky tinge to most of the songs. Between tracks, Marr is only too happy to shift the focus away from himself and onto protegee Adam Grey, the rhythm guitarist formerly known as Chink. The Healers’ magic works best when they channel the restless vim of ‘This Charming Man’ into the curled lip swagger of ‘Need It’.

Considering that this is their first official gig, it also seems a little trying on the audience to play 12 excessively unfurled songs, closing with a cover of The Stooges‘I Need Somebody’.

As they swagger off, the crowd shouts, “Marr!” instead of, “More!”. Sliding his shades back on, Johnny allows himself a bit of a chuckle, knowing that if he can save a few tarnished souls in this armpit of a venue, then there’ll be a whole lotta healin goin’ on at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton in July when they support the spiritually unbalanced Oasis.