Ever since the release of his classic self-titled debut in 1992, chock full of memorable anthems and heartfelt ballads, Mitch Malloy has been one of AOR and melodic rock’s cult figures. However despite several appearances at Firefest it has been over a decade since he undertook a proper UK tour.
But this time he made amends, promoting his new ‘Making Noise’ CD with one of the most extensive nationwide tours I can remember from a US artist in this genre, culminating in this London appearance. While the Underworld was far from full there was a decent turnout, especially for a Sunday night, as melodic rock gigs in the capital are notoriously poorly attended.
There was also a value for money bill with two support acts first in Kaato, with a singer who reminded me of Olli Herman of Reckless Love, especially when he stripped to his waist, and a band who doubled as Mitch’s backing band. They were followed by a homegrown act in Departed, the latest band of former Treatment guitarist Ben Brookland, who pulled some classic poses. Both bands were enthusiastic and hard-driving: I felt both suffered from a lack, at this stage, of memorable songs, but this may have been due to being unfamiliar with the material.
The big time may have passed him by – through ill-luck and bad timing rather than lack of talent – but there could be no doubt that Mitch Malloy oozed rock star charisma as he came on stage, with flowing locks and a gleaming set of pearly whites, engaging the crowd during an uptempo opener ‘Rock n Roll’, a new song but one that reminded me a touch of Van Halen, appropriately enough as he so nearly joined them in the mid-nineties.
It was followed by a trip back to the familiar with a trio of debut album songs in the rousing chorus of ‘Mission Of Love’, the bluesier ‘Over The Water’ where very tidy guitarist Tristan Avakian (once of another cult melodic rock act in Red Dawn) was given scope to stretch out, and ‘Stranded In The Middle of Nowhere’ which Mitch said had been restored to the set after people earlier in the tour complained about its absence.
I was delighted to hear ‘Love Song’ from the underrated Mitch Malloy II album of a few years back where he returned to his melodic rock roots, but surprised how prominently the debut album continued to feature in the set with ‘Cowboy And The Ballerina’ bringing back memories and ‘Our Love Will Never Die’ a ballad showing off the slightly heartbroken catch in his voice that conveys such emotion. Both Tristan and drummer Tyler Warren also gave him excellent backing in filling out the vocal sounds.
Belatedly, he showcased the new album with main single ‘My Therapy’ which was a fun, punchy rocker even though I kept being reminded of the riff to ‘Man On The Silver Mountain’. However, slightly disappointingly, that was the full extent of previewing the new material, while I was also surprised he didn’t play the song that emerged from his collaboration with Van Halen ‘It’s The Right Time’.
Instead we were already onto the final song of the main set in a rampaging ‘Forever’, as he cast off his guitar and crouched right at the front of the stage to work the crowd.
Fortunately there was time for two encores, both from the debut and showcasing his two sides- he poured heart and soul into the ballad ‘Nobody Wins In This War’ before the opening riff to ‘Anything At All’ had the adoring faithful at the front rocking out and punching the air to its memorable chorus. At an hour the set was a little on the short side but placed quality over quantity.
Despite his rock star persona, Mitch seemed genuinely humbled by the reaction from the crowd here and on other tours, describing it as a big thrill for a boy from Dickinson, North Dakota, and doubtless to the chagrin of the Underworld staff trying to lock up, patiently waited afterwards to meet and chat with fans. I really hope this talented artist builds on the interest generated by this tour and comes back to these shores – with a longer set- sooner rather than later.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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