Mallory Knox seemed to have a remarkable 2017. From releasing their latest album, Wired, in the Spring to headlining 2000 Trees Festival in the Summer, the Cambridge alt-rockers were making their mark on the British music scene. In February 2018 vocalist Mikey Chapman left the band.
The news came as a shock to Mallory Knox’s fans but the band reassured them that they weren’t splitting up and that bassist Sam Douglas would step forward as front man.
To calm any uncertain voices they unleashed a new single, Black Holes. That more than did the trick.
So after a few months huddled together in a studio somewhere recreating their band Mallory Knox set out on a string of UK dates, kicking off at Brighton’s The Haunt with a few friends.
London based Judas brought their ambitious melodic anthems to kick off the night. This band are clearly determined, pooling influences from a range of hugely successful rock acts to write stadium-sized sing along tracks.
Melodically led Judas are shooting for a feel-good vibe that has already hit the mark at countless festivals across the country, though their lyrics are somewhat on the simple side it only makes it easier for crowds to chant them back.
Dead! started their 2018 but releasing their debut EP, The Golden Age Of Not Even Trying. It was potentially the most anticipated debut release of the decade since these guys have been selling out venues for quite some time now.
Regulars to the UK and EU festival scene Dead! have now embarked on a program of sought after support slots and they’re systematically smashing each of them out of the park.
Vocalist Alex Mountford and guitarist Sam Matlock blasted around the stage with what is now their characteristic energy. Staring into the eyes of the crowd, blasting a guitar solo out whilst balanced on a bass drum – Dead! really have their live performances perfected to a T.
If anybody at The Haunt tonight hadn’t already realised that tonight was a momentous occasion for British music, it must have hit them like a tonne of bricks once Mallory Knox were a few minutes late on stage.
There’s nothing like being kept waiting to highlight how much nervous energy is in a room. Just as minds began to wander to images of the band bottling it backstage, Mallory Knox finally blasted on to the stage with their latest track Black Holes.
This is the first song the band have released with bassist Sam Douglas stepping up to the microphone and has been written to compliment the deeper tone of his voice perfectly.
Tonight it was used to ease the whole band into a set with something they know they can nail.
Four new songs were unveiled for the very first time tonight. Following Black Holes was Psycho Killer, Livewire and Mother – all of which have inevitably taken the band down a different path than they have trod before but are exceptionally well matched to Douglas’s vocals.
It’s a relief but not surprising that this new material is perfect.
Anybody who caught Mallory Knox’s Forest Session at 2000 Trees Festival 2017 will have noted that Douglas has an exceptional voice. Offering his share of vocals to the acoustic session, he more than matched Mikey Chapman’s offering just with a very different sound.
With that in mind, the ten older Mallory Knox songs that the band played tonight show the real battle that the band have been fighting for the past few months.
Douglas’ confession that “we weren’t going to play this song because I couldn’t sing it. But we figured it out” gave tonight’s crowd an insight into the hard work that Mallory Knox have had to put in to keep their band alive.
Nobody in the crowd tonight could possibly leave disappointed. Through Lighthouse, Beggars and Shout at the Moon you would barely be able to tell that this is band essentially playing together for the first time.
The only thing that might give them away was their visible trepidation. Douglas spoke candidly about how his anxiety had been through the roof and how the crowd had made the past few months worth it – but he hardly need to point it out, the crowd could feel how huge tonight was.
But instead of detracting from their performance, this vulnerability only made the band more endearing. It takes a particularly special kind of band to go through what Mallory Knox have been through and come out the other side like they have.
Closing their set with Better Off Without You seems particularly poignant. Besides the fact that Douglas yet again more than met the challenge of the vocals, the song now has a whole new message.
No fans anywhere can be more proud of their favourite band than Mallory Knox fans can be of theirs.
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