Words & Photography by Felix Bartlett
Having formed back in 2009 by lead guitarist Joe Savins and drummer Dave Rawling the Mallory Knox quickly ascended to becoming household names with the release of a series of singles including ‘Death Rattle’, ‘Wake Up’, ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Hello’. However, even with their stellar success seeing them performing at the likes of mainstage at Reading Festival and Download Festival the band took a heavy blow in 2018 when their lead singer Mike Chapman left the group, leaving both fans and the band in a state of shock. This was followed by the band announcing that their bassist Sam Douglas would be taking over lead vocals and the announcement of their new album ‘Mallory Knox’. This glimmer of hope was short lived however and was quickly ensued by their soon to be announced farewell tour. I caught the band during their show at the Camden Underworld, supported by Led by Lanterns and Spielbergs.
Camden Underworld is one of London’s most iconic venues, however it’s all too well known that the bands performing are on their way to fame or descending from it when performing. Underworld has seen the likes of heavyweights like Enter Shikari, Parkway Drive and You Me At Six in arguably some of their most spectacular performances. In this case it was clear and somewhat disheartening to see a once powerhouse band like Mallory Knox at the receiving end of falling from fame. It saddens me to see such an incredible band fall so far. Only the previous year I was surrounded by thousands of eager fans signing in unison to ‘Lighthouse’ whereas now I’m met with a sense of dread in the air when entering, with the overhanging knowing the band have accepted their ultimate demise.
Listen to ‘Lighthouse’ here:
Opening to ‘The Final Countdown’ set the tone well as the band assembled on stage, ready to perform their concluding London show. Starting strong with ‘Sugar’ the floor erupted with screams as fans sang the lyrics for the final time. Whilst still an incredibly strong performance from Sam on vocals the performance as a whole just wasn’t as strong without Mike, revealing sadly why this will be the bands final tour. The bands previously released songs featuring Sam had a notably high and varied vocal range, leaving Mike in a difficult position trying to hit these notes which in more cases than others weren’t. Nonetheless Mallory Knox did shine through when playing songs from their more recently released self-titled album, playing to Mike’s strengths with ‘Wherever’, ‘Black Holes’ and ‘Heartbreak Lover’ being a few notable songs performed during their show. Despite showing flaws throughout their setlist the band ultimately pulled together for their last two and arguably most famous songs ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Better Off Without You’.
Mallory Knox’s time has sadly come to an end. Whilst I wished their final tour had proved to be more of a celebration, filled with memories and homage to earlier shows I was left feeling somewhat unfulfilled. With many bands today bouncing back from the loss of key members I was hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, even a flicker of hope that this may not be their final performance in London. Sadly, from the performance in London it’s looking as though this isn’t the case. Whilst later shows during the tour might have redeemed the band, their show at the Camden Underworld was one that left me unfulfilled and gave me reason to understand truly why the band chose to label this their “Final” tour.
By Felix Bartlett