James Marriot proves he’s main stage material at Reading 2023

This is James Marriott putting the world on notice. He’s ready.

Words: Jamie Muir.
Photos: Frances Beach.

If you think Reading was shaking off hangovers come first-thing Saturday, then James Marriott makes sure they’re quickly banished to the side. With “We want James” chants ringing out from Main Stage East, his arrival is greeted like the Next Big Deal he already is. Building out the sort of devoted fanbase that most bands spend years trying to capture, the sheer size of the Main Stage feels perfectly in line with the skyscraper ambition that echo from his every move. Screams ring out, songs are sung back like they’re the moment people have been waiting for all weekend – this is James Marriott putting the world on notice. He’s ready.

Noting it’s the earliest he and his band have ever played, it sets the tone for day two of Reading in the best way possible. ‘Him’, ‘Car Lights’ and ‘So Long’ elicit potentially the earliest circle pits in Reading history – whilst the widescreen pull of ‘Romanticise This’ and punchy unreleased track ‘Don’t Blame Me’ perfectly distil that hook-laden indie-pop brilliance. 

As the scorching ‘Sleeping On Trains’ closes out a bright opening to Saturday’s action, the chants for James continue to ring out. Today at Reading is laying a marker for what’s to come: a ride with James Marriott where fun and release is the order of the day. You bet we’re ready for that.