LIVE: Mallory Knox / Led By Lanterns @ Gorilla, Manchester

By Gem Rogers

Going to a band’s final ever show or tour will never feel quite right, and it seems like we’ve already seen far more than we’d like to in 2019. Though not originally announced as a farewell tour, Mallory Knox’s current run was later confirmed to be their last; a month long cross-country run to sign off ten years of music. Tonight’s show in Gorilla is nestled somewhere in the middle of this run, far from their last ever show but no less poignant for it – after all, for most people in the room, this is their farewell to a band they love.

Before the emotions really begin to bust their way out, though, main tour support Led By Lanterns have the task of getting things warmed up, and the Birmingham four piece do a perfect job of it. Their immaculate pop rock is dripping with hooks and irresistible energy, and it doesn’t take long for the crowd to warm to them with a varied, tight set that features the band’s poppier EP tracks, a singalong cover of Dua Lipa’s ‘New Rules’, and hugely promising new tracks ‘Disconnected’ and ‘Alive’. Led By Lanterns may be a relatively new band, but they’ve clearly found their feet and are well worth keeping a close eye (and ear) on in future.

The last two years saw everything change for Mallory Knox. In early 2018, after three albums, countless tours, and festival appearances – including main stage sets at Reading and Leeds and Slam Dunk – front man Mikey Chapman made the decision to leave the band. The remaining four members immediately confirmed their intention to continue, with bassist and songwriter Sam Douglas stepping up to lead vocals; it was a path that led them to release their fourth album ‘Mallory Knox’ in August this year, reshaping the band for what looked like a promising future. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be – but they’re going out on their terms, and tonight is about celebrating that.

As the time rolls around for Mallory to take to the stage, the now jostling crowd are already in good spirits – and an intro song in the form of ‘The Final Countdown’ is about all anyone needs to get the good humour and energy flowing (and/or laughing through the tears, no judgement here). Manchester has a reputation to uphold, having been – as Douglas later tells us – the first place Mallory Knox ever sold out a show six years ago, and tonight’s eager mob don’t disappoint. The show starts in earnest with 2017’s ‘Sugar’, and voices immediately echo around the room as we venture into a set that pulls on every bit of Mallory Knox’s back catalogue and, of course, a whole host of fan favourites.

One of the most satisfying parts of witnessing this set, aside from the sheer and seemingly unending joy of the gathered fans, is seeing just how well received tracks from the latest self-titled album are. Chapman may have had distinctive and loved vocals, but the heart and soul of the band’s songwriting still remained with Douglas; that heart, combined with these tracks that are far more suited to his vocal style, give a bittersweet glimpse into what Mallory Knox could long have continued to be. ‘White Lies’ in particular (“the best song we ever wrote”) is a standout moment in the evening, even nestled amongst heavy hitters like ‘Ghost In The Mirror’ and ‘Shout At The Moon’.

‘Beggars’, ‘Getaway’, and ‘Wake Up’ see some of the biggest and most enthusiastic singalongs of the evening (and there’s plenty of them), while deep cut ‘Oceans’ sets off a sea of madness in the centre of the room that’s tempered only slightly by the realisation that the evening is heading too quickly towards its finale. The band are in fantastic form, with every track sounding just as huge in this small room as it ever did on any festival main stage, and Dave Rawling in particular still as furious a powerhouse on drums as ever. There could be no more suitable way to finish the night than with the uplifting one-two hit of ‘Lighthouse’ and ‘Better Off Without You’, one more reminder of the outstanding lyrical and melodic strength of this band.

Over the last decade, Mallory Knox created something truly great in the toughest of industries, and kept that greatness until the very end – influencing and inspiring countless others along the way. It’s something nobody can ever take away from them, and though this is the end, we are at least left with the memories (and some damn good albums). One thing is for certain and has been proven tonight – Mallory Knox are truly loved, and Manchester know exactly how to give the perfect sendoff, in celebration of everything they are and all they’ve achieved in these ten years. So long, Mallory Knox. We’ll miss you.