Live Review: Mallory Knox, Set It Off and The Xcerts – Rock City, Nottingham – 07/10/2015

On paper, the line-up for tonight’s show is both exciting and intriguing. You have radio-conquering Brit rockers Mallory Knox, theatrical, pop-infused rock quartet Set It Off and then critically acclaimed underground trio The Xcerts.

Having witnessed The Xcerts a couple of times since the release of last year’s excellent ‘There Is Only You’, we know they can produce an engaging set. However, tonight this isn’t their crowd. For many in attendance, they stand and warmly appreciate what the three-piece have to offer. As the punters pour in, Murray Macleod and company produce an always favourable display. However songs like ‘I Don’t Care’ are held back in their tempo as they aim to unite in an anthemic fashion. Nevertheless, they provide a snapshot of their lively moments that once again question why The Xcerts aren’t bigger then they are. Closing with the somber but powerful ‘There Is Only’, The Xcerts leave to gracious applause and cheers. (3/5)

Photo by Zain Zia. Taken at The Ritz, Manchester – 29/09/2015. View more photos here.

With this being the third time Set It Off have visited these shores in 2015, it’s clear there is a demand for the Florida quartet over here and tonight backs that up. From the moment they step on stage, charismatic frontman Cody Carson leads the way with his smooth delivery as his band mates provide a soundtrack of feel good, upbeat pop-rock. Recent single ‘Wild Wild World’ brings the tone down with its ballad-esque tempo that grows with Carson’s impassioned lyrical message of unity. However, much like Set It Off’s presentation, it’s slick and a bit too polished. Admittedly Set It Off aren’t my typical couple of tea, yet there is a charm to their show that makes them admirable. It is understandable to see why they have a growing fanbase, and tonight is an example of why that is. (3.5/5)

Mallory Knox
Photo by Zain Zia. Taken at The Ritz, Manchester – 29/09/2015. View more photos here.

After a 45 minute wait, tonight’s headliners kick off a 16 song set with ‘Shout at the Moon’. Preceded by a grainy countdown video being projected on to a sheet before revealing the band, it is clear Mallory Knox’s presentation is bigger and bolder than ever before.

If you’re familiar with Mallory Knox’s young but impressive back catalogue of songs, than you’ll know they have a knack for producing powerful, soaring and accessible rock songs that easily bring crowds together. After delivering ‘Wake Up’, ‘Getaway’ and ‘Hello’ early on, they do just that as their set contains thriving, anthemic choruses that are made to be sung in unison.

For fans of Mallory Knox, this tour has seen them play from ‘Asymmetry’ cuts like ‘Dying To Survive’ and ‘Lonely Hours’ for the first time. Whilst they momentarily slow the tempo and energy, MK’s tight knit delivery continues to be almost flawless, and meanwhile, the melancholy ‘Heart and Desire’ leads to a sea of swaying arms.

Photo by Zain Zia. Taken at The Ritz, Manchester – 29/09/2015. View more photos here.

Throughout, Mikey Chapman is exceptional in his role as lead vocalist, proving to be gracious and down to earth in between songs. By the time they reach the halfway point, the quintet are comfortably in their stride at the knock out an array of stellar melodic alt-rock. ‘Beggars’, ‘When Are We Waking Up?’ and ‘Death Rattle’ keep up the momentum and are delivered with precision. It is no doubt that Mallory Knox’s capability to produce stellar anthemic songs is a strong point but it’s also their weakness. It’s clear they have a winning formula, and for the most part, the later stages of their set merge into one.

Ending the night on a three song encore, Mallory Knox emphasise their strengths with the slow-burning, impactful ‘She Took Him To The Lake’ and the post-hardcore-tinged ‘Oceans’ before rounding things off with the soaring ‘Lighthouse’.

It’s clear Mallory Knox already have an arsenal of songs to step up to the next level, and if they succeed in producing more with album number 3, we wouldn’t be surprised if they were playing arenas in the near future. However, a bit of variation beyond the alt-pop-rock style wouldn’t go amiss. (3.5/5)


Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)


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