In May of this year, Mallory Knox (5) announced a UK tour, starting on September 15th. In a somewhat unexpected twist of fate, on September 9th, they announced it would be their last.
The four-piece formed in Cambridge, and over ten years have gained thousands of fans yet recently lost a vocalist. When Mikey Chapman left, the band went underground, and not by choice. It’s sad to say that not only did Chapman leave a front man-shaped hole in the band, but his departure meant many fans and media outlets lost interest. Still, bassist and backing vocalist Sam Douglas rose to the occasion and they went on to release their fourth album in August. After receiving mixed reviews (many of which dwelled too much on Chapman’s absence than the music itself), Mallory’s implosion potentially could be looked at as a ticking time bomb.
Walking on stage to ‘The Final Countdown’, there was the assumption that this final show in Manchester would be a tongue-in-cheek celebration; a real send off. Unfortunately, every member bar drummer Dave Rawling came on stone-faced and delved straight into opening track ‘Sugar’. The song’s flirtatious lyrics couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the stagnant poses each member held, while Douglas sounded almost bored. Was he really that desperate to put Mallory Knox to bed?
This continued into second song ‘Wherever’. Both of these tracks are relatively new in the grand scheme of Mallory’s history, and the split reactions were obvious between dedicated fans and those only there for closure. Of course, when slightly older track ‘Shout At The Moon’ (which has a more anthemic chorus) was played, the mood shifted entirely. This was in the crowd, rather, not on stage. Before the song began, Douglas gave an attempt at addressing the audience, but he didn’t even look up from his bass as he fiddled with the tuners.
It's a theme that continued throughout the set, Songs taken from Wired (2017) and this year’s self-titled were only celebrated by those at the front, whereas anything from Signals (2013) and Asymmetry (2014) was echoed by the whole room. All members seemed more confident playing the older tracks, especially Douglas, despite not even being the lead vocalist during their times of release.
The most significant part of the set came towards the end, though. Four years ago, the band permanently took their oldest and most popular song, ‘Oceans’, off the setlists, only playing one small section of it before leading into another song. The band had quite frankly admitted they were sick of playing it. So when it was played in full, it was an exceptional moment.
There were occasional moments of true passion onstage as Douglas said Manchester held a special place in their hearts, but for the most part, they looked tired. In fairness there were undoubtedly a host of emotions for the band to overcome here, but overall, it was an underwhelming send off. Emotional speeches were expected; reminiscing about their first time playing here, thanking each and every person in the room who helped (barely) fill the 550-capacity venue.
Maybe this was a poor send-off because there have been rumblings that it might not really be the end of Mallory Knox as many remember it, with certain members seeming to have plans for the future already. Or maybe the whole experience of putting out an ill-received album and not selling out your farewell tour just drove it home for them: it was time for this to end.