Opening what can only be described as Manchester’s shiny new toy of a venue, Johnny Marr graced the stage of Factory International’s Aviva Studios last week to the delight of many. Not only were we in the presence of music royalty, but both nights we were graced with the addition of the insanely talented, hand-picked Johnny Marr Orchestra – who brought a never-before-seen atmosphere to some of the city’s most famous anthems.

‘As a Mancunian boy myself, I’m here looking at a bit of history – and then to be invited to be the first rock show here, is really a super privilege. This is going to be here for generations, generations, generations and generations – god willing hundreds of years. To be the first rock show here too – we’re part of history. I’m so glad you guys are here with me too.’

Johnny Marr

With an atmosphere like no other – Aviva Studios promises an experience others can’t. With divine lighting and stunning visuals Johnny said himself…

‘This space is pretty great right, and it’s in Manchester!’. Not only is the space perfect for a night of live music, the pre-show trimmings really put the cherry on top of this package – with opportunities to grab a bite to eat and a cheeky bev in communal areas within the venue – there is nothing more you can ask for.’

Johnny Marr
Johnny Marr (Riaz Gomez)

Conducting a night full of some new tunes and classics from The Smiths, there was really something for everyone. A personal favourite of mine was the inclusion of the gorgeous ‘87 track Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me from Strangeways, Here We Come. As a Mancunian brought up in a household where the Smiths were considered the equal to Mozart – the celebration of Johnny’s outstanding musical career seemed only fitting to open Manchester’s new addition to our already outstanding legacy of venues.

Featuring songs off his latest album Fever Dreams Pts1-4 (2022) and his most recent single Somewhere (2023), the night was filled with both new and old segments of Marr’s extensive catalogue. With tributes to the Haçienda included – stunning visuals showcased photographs from the photographs from the iconic staple of Manchester culture, that aided the progression of our music scene so successfully during the early 80s and 90s.

Johnny Marr Orchestra (Pat Graham)

Following the final song of the encore There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, a beautiful tribute to the late Smith’s bassist Andy Rourke was spanned across the entire venue – touching fans of many generations. With many events said to be in the pipeline and more on sale now, Aviva Studios is not a venue to be missed. Described by Johnny himself as what will be regarded as ‘a piece of history in generations to come’ – why wait to check it out?

About The Author