Mallory Knox bring ‘Wired’ to the road.
Cambridgeshire five-piece Mallory Knox blew the plaster from the walls of Camden’s KOKO on the first of their two-night headline residency promoting new album ‘Wired’.
I’ve been listening to the latest Mallory Knox album in the car. As a result, my journey times have been reduced by an average of 17%. I’m not condoning or advocating speeding as a means of getting from A to B, but if I ever end up in court I do think: “I’m very, very sorry M’Lud, but I’ve had ‘Wired’ by Mallory Knox on repeat” ought to at least be considered as admissible evidence.
The new album delivers a glitzier version for the alt-rock sound the band is known for – it’s not a radical departure; imagine the Mallory Knox you know and love run through an intensive programme in the dishwasher. For anybody old enough, I’d liken it to the time Rush’s Alex Lifeson discovered he had a chorus pedal on ‘A Farewell To Kings’.
So, armed with a couple of cameras I set off for the heady atmosphere of Camden’s KOKO to check out how it was all going to be delivered live. This is one of my favourite London venues. It seemingly has more balconies than Benidorm, more levels than Grand Theft Auto. Get here early though. If you’re stuck at the back of one of those balconies you see literally nothing. I’m lucky enough to have the best view in the house – for three songs at least. Then the photographers get turfed out of the photo pit and have to mix it with the throng on the floor. The swarm of Mallory fans looked biblical wedged against the barrier ahead of the bands’ arrival. Getting out was going to be interesting.
Mallory Knox appeared shortly after 9.15 – the crowd already nicely warmed up by supports Fatherson and Lonely the Brave. They opened with ‘Giving It Up’, one of the new ones and a single released late last year. I was looking forwards, but given the noise from behind, it seemed the crowd approved. This is a song that requires vocalist Mikey Chapman to really push everything he’s got. It was perhaps a brave song with which to start, but Chapman and the band delivered in spades and it set the tone for the rest of the night. ‘Ghost In The Mirror’ from the 2014 sophomore album ‘Asymmetry’ and title track from the new record, ‘Wired’ followed.
The newer glossy sound of Wired didn’t really translate into the KOKO soundscape – unless ‘glossy’ is a synonym for ‘very, very loud’. The one thing this opening threesome definitely had in common was that they were fast. I can’t recall a first three from a photo pit whizzing by that quickly for a long time; it felt like being fired out of a gun. I still hadn’t turned around until it was time to leave, though the whites of the eyes of security at the front told me it was going to be a maelstrom of chaos. Getting out was every bit as interesting as expected.
I managed to wedge myself between pairs of shoulder blades in and around the many balconies and got something of a view for the rest of the show. It became clear that there was a real fervour for the older material that resulted in mass synchro jumping and screaming of the words. ‘Beggars’ was a great example of this, with Chapman struggling to be heard above the crowd in the stripped back first verse. In what might be one of the least rock ‘n’ roll things I’ve ever heard, Mikey dedicated Beggars to the use of Vicks Vaporub. The band came down with a cold on day one of the tour.
The new songs were received with less mania though I’ve no doubt this was due a comparative lack of familiarity rather than a comparative lack of appreciation. One of the new ones I particularly liked was ‘Lucky Me’, a more traditional out and out riff-laden rock song that allowed the twin guitar attack of James Gillett and Joe Savins to complement each other perfectly. Chapman encouraged the crowd to crouch on the floor during the intro before leaping to their feet when the drums arrived. Everybody duly obliged.
Ahead of ‘Saviour’, Chapman took time out to lament what a shit state the world is in. He doesn’t approve of Donald Trump being leader of the free world. Given that pretty much only Nigel Farage and Katie Hopkins do approve of Donald Trump being leader of the free world, he was on reassuringly safe ground.
This was the last song before a two-number encore: ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Better Off Without You’. By now, mosh pits were in free form and security were earning their dough catching surfers; just the way it should be. Better Off Without You might just be the catchiest song ever written about use of anti-depression and anxiety medication. Certainly, the crowd enjoyed singing along. To be fair, it is a hell of an earworm. It was still rattling around my head on the train home.
The tour continues tonight at KOKO and then at venues through the UK, closing in Doncaster on 3rd May. Mallory then play dates through Europe returning for UK festival appearances in the summer.