As a two-year-old, Mollie Marriott remembers seeing Chuck Berry perform. She was in the front row, “dancing like crazy” on her mother’s lap. Fast forward a few years and she’s still dancing like crazy, albeit on the Borderline stage in front of her own equally enthusiastic fans.
Like Berry and the other rock ‘n roll greats she saw growing up as Steve Marriott’s daughter, she has real presence, personality, and power. She endears herself with disarming comments about being excited but frightened, getting hot and sweaty, the challenges of tackling an Aretha Franklin song, and the tightness of her leather trousers.
She moves with wild abandon, especially during the instrumental breakdown of stadium rocker King Of Hearts, her enthusiasm nothing short of infectious. And, of course, she can really, really sing, whether she’s belting out current foot-stomping single Control, addressing her own daughter on the gentle ballad Broken, or nailing those big notes on Aretha’s Baby, I Love You.
But those vocal talents should really come as no surprise. More than genetically gifted, Marriott’s been singing professionally for more than half her life. As a 15 year old, she was asked by Liam Gallagher to sing on demos for the Oasis album Heathen Chemistry, and since then has performed backing vocals for legends as diverse as Joe Brown (also her step-father), Mark Knopfler, and The Faces.
So now that it’s her time in the spotlight, she can apply everything she’s learnt, like the importance of serving the song. With a voice as powerful as hers, Marriott could easily obliterate everything she delivers, but she knows exactly when to open up and when to hold back. Just listen to Armour, introduced with a knowing “We’ve all fallen in love with someone we shouldn’t have.” Accompanied by just guitarist Johnson Medwick-Daly, Marriott shows restraint throughout the classic lighter anthem, but lets her voice loose during the especially moving choruses.
Epic set closer Transformer shows even more raw emotion. Another track from her forthcoming debut LP, Truth Is A Wolf, it’s a slow burner that enables the dynamic singer to alternately glide and soar, alongside the perfectly complementary backing vocals of Izzy Chase. Medwick-Daly delivers a blistering solo, dextrous keyboard player Sam Tanner contributes some sublime fills, and drummer CJ Evans captures that swinging John Bonham style, but even they can’t distract from the singer out front. As the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom revealed, the move from backing singer to centre stage is a challenge that very few can pull off. Mollie Marriott, sonically and visually spellbinding, has.
Live review of Mollie Marriott @ Borderline by Nils van der Linden on 1st June 2017. Photography by Edyta K.