In the music business, as in other walks of life, following the path of famous parents can be both a blessing and a curse. It may help get you noticed initially, but higher expectations are placed on you to step out of the shadow of greatness.
Such a challenge faces Mollie Marriott, daughter of legendary former Small Faces and Humble Pie singer Steve Marriott. After a career as a backing singer and a couple of singles a few years ago, her solo career is now belatedly gaining momentum and a respectable turnout at the prestigious Borderline represented her biggest show yet.
She made a favourable first impression on opener ‘Run With The Hounds’, her expressive and soulful voice complementing a skilled band who could take the pace down and pick it up again, while on the title track from her forthcoming first album ‘Truth Is The Wolf’, they had a jazzy or even at times sixties soul feel notably with the organ playing of her songwriting collaborator Sam Tanner.
Much like a growing number of contemporaries like Jo Harman, Lynne Jackaman and Rebecca Downes, Mollie and her band’s style mixes rock, blues and soul influences from the classic period yet they also sounded fresh and not dated.
Clad in black, like the rest of the band, she was sweltering in her leather trousers and initially appeared a tad nervous but came over as very personable. In a voice distinctively posher than her old man’s Cockney tones (though she could still ‘lord mayor’ with the best of them) she told the stories behind many of the songs, dedicating ‘Broken’ to her daughter.
There were some rockier numbers like ‘Ship Of Fools’ and ‘King Of Hearts’ with a marvellously over the top synthesiser solo from Sam, and most recent single ‘Control’ on which Johnson Jay Medwick Daly, big of hair, long of name, and a tasteful player throughout, was given greater scope to rock out. A brave decision to cover an Aretha Franklin song in ‘Baby I Love You’ paid off with a fun atmosphere both on stage and among the crowd.
In contrast, a superb melodic ballad ‘Give Me A Reason’ had me reaching for comparisons to Pat Benatar and Fleetwood Mac, while ‘Armour’ was stripped back to just her, Johnson and backing singer Izzy Chase taking to keyboards.
She really hit her stride with the closing trio – the atmospheric ‘Gravity’, where the harmonies in the closing part of the song were reminding me of CSN and the band getting into a great, up tempo groove on ‘ A Million Miles’ and ‘Transformer’. Having become a firm convert as the set wore on I was rather disappointed when it abruptly ended after an hour with no encore.
On this evidence, it was easy to see why acts as diverse as modfather Paul Weller and rising blues rockers Bad Touch are inviting her onto their tours, and that the future is bright for Mollie Marriott – on her own terms.
Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Laurence Harvey except where stated
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