From the outside, Mallory Knox’s Manchester gig looks just like any other show. People huddle in the rain as they queue up outside, swapping Twitter handles with new friends and speculating on the setlist, while the heavy drums of soundcheck thrum through the walls.
Inside though, it’s a different story. After three albums as a songwriter, bassist Sam is now tasked with singing his words for the very first time, stepping up in place of now ex-vocalist Mikey. With a new line-up, a new label, and a few new tracks thrown in for good measure, it’s clear that this Mallory Knox is not the one we’re used to.
However, before fans can experience this new iteration, Judas are tasked with warming up the crowd. Upbeat and effervescent, the lead singer is so surprised at seeing his own merch in the crowd that he all but stops the show, but his joy is infectious. By the end of the set, every lurker leaning on the bar has been drawn into the knot of people bouncing in the centre and, when the guys promise to return next month, it’s clear a large portion of the crowd will be there too.
Next up are Dead!, looking hilariously out of place on a stage adorned with lamps and vases of flowers. Boyish and brutal, they push the intimate venue to its limits, until sweat is flying in every direction and the posters are shaking themselves free of the walls. Fresh off the success of their first full-length effort, Golden Age Of Grotesque proves itself to be even better live than it is on record. The Boys The Boys sends some of the younger punters scurrying to safety at the back of the venue, while You’re So Cheap brings a touch of indie swagger to proceedings.
As for the guys themselves, if the loss of Mikey has affected them, then it definitely isn’t showing. Sam’s vocals are on point, perhaps even more earnest and emotional than his predecessor’s, and he only seems to relax more as the set progresses. His banter is on the shy side, and he leans on the crowd a lot, but mostly he just seems overwhelmed by the outpouring of love coming from the crowd.
Old songs like Keeping Secrets and Wake Up sound entirely new in his hands, while new songs like Black Hole pack an undeniable punch, and leave people eager for the upcoming album that’s been hinted at all night. At one point, James mutters into the mic that there’s absolutely no-one missing, and it seems clear from the crowd’s response that they agree.
Photo Credit: Kerrang.com