The Smiths’ legends Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke were reunited onstage for the first time in almost 20 years in Manchester last night (January 28).
The old pals came together during an evening of many collaborations at the Manchester vs Cancer charity event, organised by Rourke. The bash triumphantly hosted the cream of the city’s talent for the benefit of pioneering cancer hospital, Christies.
A packed MEN Arena witnessed Marr, appearing with his band The Healers, begin his set with a storming version of The Smiths’ classic ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’. He then invited Rourke onstage, stating, “I first played with this guy at school in 1978 and we last played together in 1987. We’ve done some good things and some not so good things, but it’s been too long really and now is a good a time as ever.” To the absolute delight of the crowd, the pair then launched into another Smiths favourite, ‘How Soon Is Now?’.
However, after one song together, Marr reverted back to The Healers‘ new material, but not before embracing Rourke as the bassist left the stage.
Doves were the most accommodating band of the night, allowing for a host of star players to join them. Collaborating with Badly Drawn Boy on ‘Disillusion’, Marr and New Order’s Bernard Sumner then arrived for a slightly chaotic version of Lou Reed’s ‘Vicious’. Sumner, clearly moved by the occasion, declared his appreciation to the crowd with characteristic modesty saying, “I’m not turning into Bob Geldof. Don’t worry, I’m still a twat.”
Completing the once-in-a-lifetime nature of the night, New Order played a set entirely of Joy Division songs. Bass player Peter Hook told the adoring masses that it was, “time to tear the fuckin’ house down”. Set highlights included ‘Transmission’, ‘Warsaw’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.
The finale involved the full cast of characters on stage to play out with Happy Mondays‘ ‘Wrote For Luck’, with vocal duties delivered by Shaun Ryder.