Thursday, 6 April 2017

Mallory Knox - Oxford O2 Academy, 04/04/17

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Fatherson's atmospheric brand of festival-ready rock was the perfect start to the night. The Scottish rock trio have been taking the world by storm since the release of last year's 'Open Book', and what's not to like about their catchy yet chilled out songs?
Vocalist Ross Leighton seemed humbled by the amount of people in the audience, repeatedly thanking everyone for getting down to the venue early and giving them a chance. But they were fighting a losing battle at times, struggling to be heard over disrespectful chattering scattered throughout the crowd.
The band were playing their hearts out, putting on an impassioned performance the likes of which you rarely see from an opening band. Ross' vocal is haunting, the emotion he pours into every lyric inducing goosebumps at multiple points throughout their set. 'I Like Not Knowing' was a particular highlight: the split "oh no" vocal echoing, grabbing the attention of every person in the room and finally shutting the crowd up.
There's something special about Fatherson. If they keep putting this much energy and effort into their performances, it won't be long until they're standing on their own two feet and headlining shows across the country. It's going to be exciting to see where this trio goes next, because it looks like the only way is up. 

Open Book
Mine For Me
I Like Not Knowing
Lost Little Boys

Lonely the Brave have been a band for almost ten years. That should mean it's high time they started headlining venues of this size rather than being relegated to support act constantly, but they seem to be struggling to stand out from the crowd.
The songs from their second album - last year's 'Things Will Matter' - feel like a huge step backwards when performed in a live environment. They're draining. The set flounders under the oppressive weight of new material which should be reinvigorating the crowd, not sending them to sleep.
David Jakes' vocal deepens the introspective atmosphere: his mumbling vocal make their lyrics completely indecipherable.
The three tracks from 'The Day's War' that remain in the setlist could have won the band new fans. They have a universal appeal which is missing from the newer songs. 'Backroads' and 'The Green, the Blue' are both particularly effective, closing the set by leaving the crowd wondering what might have been. Sadly, what we got was a bland and completely forgettable set.
When people look back on the Wired tour, they're not going to be thinking about Lonely the Bore.

Black Mire
Dust and Bones
Jaws of Hell
The Green, the Blue

The last time Mallory Knox headlined the Oxford O2 Academy they were supported by frnkiero andthe cellabration. Thanks to the famous name supporting them the show quickly sold out, but it meant a large portion of the crowd were disinterested in the headliners.
Thankfully, things were different this time around.
Every person in the room was there for Mallory, and though the crowd was smaller (the low amount of tickets sold caused the venue to shut the seating area at the back of the room) they were actively involved during almost every song in the set. Vocalist Mikey Chapman said it best himself at the end of 'Dying To Survive': "You guys are fucking in the mood for a Tuesday!".
Having only released new album 'Wired' last month, the Cambridge quintet used this opportunity to showcase as much of their new material as possible. The fifteen song set included seven of their brand new tracks, and judging by the crowd's reaction the album has been received astonishingly well. It would be impossible to guess just how recently the album hit the shelves based on the energetic singalongs accompanying every song.
From the moment the opening strains of 'Giving It Up' echoed through the venue the crowd were in constant movement, pushing towards the stage before exploding in a frenzy of movement as they moshed and dance throughout the entire hour and a quarter stage time. Old favourites 'Ghost in the Mirror', 'Beggars' and 'Wake Up' were particular highlights: pints were thrown in the air as more people flooded to the front of the room, desperate to get in on the action, throwing caution to the wind as they threw their bodies into the mass of movement.
The only song in the entire set that didn't get a mosh pit was the melancholy 'Falling In Love'. Cleverly placed in the middle of the set, it allowed people to sneak back to the bar and refuel before 'Lucky Me' kicked things back into high gear - the crouch down, jump up move that Mikey encouraged involving nearly every person in the venue.
Choosing to play new song 'Saviour' to close the main bulk of the set was a risky move, but one that paid off. Mikey introduced the song by sharing that he was "struggling with the words [...] quite a lot, because it's quite important to [him]", calling out Theresa May and Donald Trump before saying "one day, our collective generation is going to have to pick up all of the pieces that they're smashing down right now" to rapturous applause and a cheer from a crowd who are similarly disenfranchised with the current state of the world. Mallory Knox are becoming political, and it'll be interesting to see whether this attitude persists.
Closing with 'Better Off Without You' was another powerful choice, but it's impossible to say that the UK rock scene would be better off without Mallory Knox. With each album they release they push themselves further, taking a lot of risks which always pay off. They're going to be headlining much bigger venues by the end of this album cycle.

Giving It Up
Ghost in the Mirror
Dying To Survive
Falling In Love
Lucky Me
When Are We Waking  Up?
Wake Up
Shout at the Moon
Better Off Without You

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