Skip to content

Review: James Marriott @ SWX

On his second live tour, James Marriott shows a unique charisma and vibrant on-stage presence, owning the stage as if he were headlining one of the biggest venues in the world.

By Emily Jordan, Third Year Marketing

Having seen James Marriott on his first tour at Thekla only early last year, I knew he was one to watch. The Are We There Yet tour accompanies the album of the same name, released late last year to solid reviews across the board. I was uncertain as to how this album would translate into a live show, as his earlier work was generally much more upbeat, but Marriott and his band put on an excellent performance and had the room moving from the first song until the very end.

Supported by Soft Launch - a small indie band with only one song available to stream - and Lexie Carroll, an established solo artist who shocked the room with beautiful vocals hidden behind a rhythmic guitar. The two support acts could not have been more different, yet the crowd responded well, chanting the name of Soft Launch whilst shouting kind messages of support for Carroll, creating a safe space for fans and artists alike.

By the time the room was full, and the crowd began to anticipate James Marriott’s entrance, the energy within the room was building. As the lights dimmed and the band began to walk out, I heard a few amused giggles around me as I realised the whole band were dressed to the nines, decked out in suits and suspenders. Even if you were outside the venue, you could hear the moment Marriott walked out on stage, and he was simply magnetic.

Having seen one of his earliest shows, I found the jump in production quality and confidence startling. Unlike before, he was jumping around the stage from the moment the set began, running across the stage, beckoning the fans to jump as if this were the thousandth time he had done so. The first song he played, ‘Over My Head’, tastes of bitter frustration of a failing relationship, and what struck me was the quality of his supporting band. They were perfectly in sync, and had their own playfulness with the audience, encouraging clapping and cheering which is usually reserved for the main artist themselves.

Darting between newer releases and some deeper cuts, James Marriott had a relentless setlist, exploring themes of sexuality, mental health, and tumultuous relationships. Before playing ‘Car Lights’, one of the standout songs from his 2022 EP Bitter Tongues, he encouraged a sing-along, yet another example of how his audience interaction was that of a well-practised live musician. The entirety of the sold-out venue sang along, without needing to be taught the words, showing the dedication of his fanbase – many of which were queuing as soon as they could just for a chance to be at the barrier.

‘Don’t Blame Me’ is Marriott’s self-proclaimed ‘best song [he’s] ever written’, and this is supported by the countless fans screaming along, saying ‘cover your eyes, but peer through the lines / ‘cause when I cry, it’s only for you.’ The emotion in the room was palpable, and the mix of grinning faces and tear-stained cheeks just proves that artists from all backgrounds (even like Marriott, who began on YouTube) can reach fans across the globe.

James Marriott @ SWX | Emily Jordan

Closing out the set with ‘Grapes’ a personal favourite of mine, had the room jumping and screaming the words. It was a classic indie-rock moment watched by an unconventional crowd of teenagers. His demographic consisted of LGBTQIA+ teens, parents leant against the barrier, stereotypical ‘laddish’ teenage boys, and everyone in between. Even the most straight-faced parents in the room were bopping their heads along, an impressive feat to achieve.

The final song, from the encore, was ‘Romanticise This,’ which cuts between the loud chorus and soft, nearly whispered verses. The whole emotional spectrum was explored in the short setlist – with the whole run-time coming out close to an hour. Compared to his first Bristol show, James Marriott is clearly going from strength to strength – both in his songwriting and live shows.

Featured Image: Emily Jordan

Have you listened to James Marriott's music before?