Review: Marmozets at the Engine Rooms, Southampton

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Fearsome

As charmingly clunky as their love of their audience is, Marmozets' powerful performances are what they'd prefer to beat you over the head with, and you're going to love it.

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Just imagine how disappointing (not to mention out-of-character) it would be for Marmozets to put on a boring live show. Between their two packed albums, they’ve outdone Royal Blood’s force of nature sound in this decade’s British Rock pantheon, and the five members onstage projected a familial comfort and confidence directly into the mosh pit and beyond. That can only come after a decade together at least, and every strummed string, crashed cymbal, and sharply sung note was delivered like it were the last one that their respective player would likely deliver.

That comes down to the band’s genuine love of their audience – although their expression of it occasionally felt like persona whiplash. When lead singer Becca put herself in the front row for the raucous ‘Born Young and Free’, it added emphasis to the song’s unifying force. However, when the same hyper-charismatic and playful singer turned to the crowd at the end to say, “You were in control the entire time”, whilst also demanding that we “Never give up” on ourselves, it’s hard to take seriously. Especially since the comparatively small amount of show banter (not one band member spoke to the crowd or each other until they were four songs deep into a 16-song setlist) mostly comprised of Becca and brother Sam (guitar/vocals) teasing the crowd to go bigger and give more. What do they love more: their audience, or performing for them?

One isn’t separate from the other, yet it certainly seemed the opportunity to perform is what keeps the band returning. For nearly half of the mid-set highlight ‘Play’, the entire group was backlit, rendering them mere silhouettes – yet it appeared an entirely undeliberate error. That move is the sort of playfully cocky thing that Marmozets can absolutely get away with. If there’s something that their show truly lacked, it’s that sneaky grandiosity in lighting and staging, that elevate fun shows with great energy, into great shows full of life.

Not that it matters for the experience of watching them deliver raucous punk rock songs again and again. From the cackling derision in ‘Is It Horrible?’ to the soaring hope in setlist closer ‘Captivate You’, not a band member looked like they’re having anything less than the time of their lives. Special recognition especially must go to bassist Will Bottomley and drummer Josh Macintyre. Will captures the purest version of having fun onstage that I’ve seen in years – he could absolutely get away with standing to the side, looking cool and handsome. Yet he chose to shimmy, shake, twist, and shout his few lyrics out to the crowd, before facing the nearest available bandmate to play around with. Frequently that would be Josh, who is without hyperbole, the most beautifully vibrant drummer this writer has seen live. Dressed all in white where his bandmates favoured black and grey, he jumped to his feet at any available opportunity, flailing his long limbs to smash a cymbal, before getting back on the stool to fearsome effect. And much like sister Becca, he chose to descend from the stage to show his love to the crowd, high-fiving and hugging everyone in the front row that he could after their phenomenal penultimate track ‘Major System Error’.

Josh is the standout member of a standout band because that love of performance so clearly connects with his quiet but personal form of showing love for the audience. There’s little to nothing in the general nature of a Marmozets live show that distinguishes them from other young Rock bands, but in the specifics of their power and performative panache (all of which you’ll find on their records), is a band of sheer vital confidence far beyond the size of their venues.

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Fourth year Spanish & History student. You know what I like,because I've written about it. #MagicMikeXXLForever

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