Non Canon & Warren Mallia

October 19, 2017
Aces and Eights, London

“I’ve got achy breakies but I think I might skip straight to redemption”
Aces and Eights’ “delicious pizza” certainly did smell delicious but a distant roar from the basement was a timely reminder that the night’s real draw was live music in the most visceral sense. It wasn’t only the noise but also the intense heat – the humidity immediately fogged up the camera lens! Picture a rock show in a sauna and you’re half way there.

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With unmistakable stage presence, boundless energy and the kind of passionate delivery familiar to anyone who’s seen Chuck Ragan, Warren Mallia was clearly no live newcomer.

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His solo outings built on his experience as a member of Grand-Pop and The Attika State. When he performed songs from the bands’ back catalogues, such as Hey Zeus and 6 Shots, he admitted that the sound was different. Nevertheless, the intensity was clearly a constant.

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The singalong refrain “SENTIMENTAL – WOAH OH!” stayed lodged in the memory long after the music died down. Ben Marwood said it best: “it’s in my head forever now!”

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“I keep noticing how I keep talking nonsense then sing sad songs. Well, you don’t want to be talking seriously and singing bollocks!”
Thankfully (for my expensive equipment!) the sauna atmosphere died down, but the intensity remained. When Barry Dolan AKA Oxygen Thief AKA Non Canon indicated he was ready to start, the message was passed back Chinese whispers style until Marwood took charge and rallied the crowd for the main event. The resultant communal roar matched Mallia’s earlier volume.

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Non Canon opted to perform seated because the alternative was too risky: “it’s not headbanging music and I’ll confuse myself and then fall over!” The pure acoustics and simple staging focused attention on the descriptive lyrics, such as “the nights are starting earlier each day” and “a problem shared can be a problem multiplied.”

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There was also time and space for stories, including his former band mates’ assessment of his songwriting style: “if you knew why you did that, it would have been really good!”

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The style of the songs stood out, too. Influence from Idlewild, in terms of structure and high-minded concepts, was evident even before the band was name-checked alongside other 90s indie heroes, interspersed with a stanza of Mansun’s Being A Girl.

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Chris T-T made quite an appearance despite not being there. After acknowledging the absence of Chris’ piano playing compared to the album, Non Canon suggested that he would try to fill the void left when Chris retires from music later this year, and performed a heartfelt cover.

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His political focus was echoed as well – “it’s about how Nigel Farage can go fuck himself to death.” However, Non Canon recognised the competing lure of apathy: “you just want to stick your head in the stand and eat chocolate.”

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Despite that, the show was ultimately heartwarming with the crowd ready, willing and able to sing along exuberantly to Chris TT’s “we can still win” refrain as well as all of the Non Canon originals. Passionate, intimate and memorable.

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Check Non Canon out at another show that promises to make a mark: St Pancras Old Church on September 12, 2018 with a full band, including a string section.

Like what you see? There are more photos of the show over on Flickr. Please follow me there, and here:

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