First version of a ticket from the gig
Stub from a (I assume) locally sold ticket

Bob checks I've not missed a track out of the setlistMAGNUM
Newport TJ's, Wales
2 March 2002
HOW FAR JERUSALEM - Clarkin solo


Tony Clarkin the vigilanteThis is the first Magnum gig since 1995 and my first gig since Magnum played the Glasgow Mayfair in 1994. I think that was the last Scottish date they played and I didn't make the journey to the farewell gigs as represented on 'The Last Dance'. I'd not ordered tickets in advance but, chatting to people the previous evening, I found out tickets were selling fast so got up early and bit my dislike of paying booking fees and ordered a couple of tickets. We left late afternoon and met up with fellow Magnum-fans yahoo groupers Ian and Claire Pollard before finding a quick bit to eat at a nearby Chicago Rock Cafe.

Al Barrow, new lad on bass and backing vocalsThe previous few weeks I'd not been that excited by the prospect of a Magnum show (despite having good memories of the old ones) but as I played 'The Spirit' compilation after lunch the excitement began to build. I just hope my expectation doesn't outweigh the reality later. The support act is Tyla, ex head honcho of the dogs D'Amour. I've never seen them/him before but did buy an album many years ago. I don't remember much about it other than that the vocals were pretty poor and I wasn't really impressed by the music. Not a good omen for the tour support then as Tyla was the vocalist. Still, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for this first night anyway. You never know, I may like him. Well, that was written before the show and I did like him much more than expected so there may be a revirew to follow.

The band is rather different to the last tour with just three of the five being familiar Magnum faces: Bob Catley - Lead Vocals, Tony Clarkin - Guitar and Mark Stanway - Keyboards. Replacing Wally Lowe (who is now working in Portugal I believe) is Al Barrow - Bass Guitar while a familiar name in Harry James fills the Drum stool.
At 21:42 the slightly eerie, bassy throbbing, backing tape oozed from the PA, the band emerging 30 seconds later. Instruments checked the cymbals counted in the stabbing guitar work of Tony Clarkin and a wash of keyboards from Mark Stanway before the o VIGILANTE himself, Bob Catley, stepped onstage for the first line of the song. This was a song I'd not expected them to play but it proved a superb opening number, uptempo and punchy, just what the tightly packed (down the front at least) needed to get in the mood for the show. Magnum were back and it felt good. Not such a good feeling was the rather drunk, chain smoking bloke stood next to, or rather leant, on me for the first few numbers. Thankfully the bar or bed called him a few numbers in.

Hello at the backThe No chat, just a microphone held out to the audience and a few "dance, dance, dance" calls from Bob as Tony moved directly into WILD SWAN , initially a slow slightly ploddy number that soon increased tin tempo - much to the confusion of the dancers I imagine! They wer no doubt further confused by the hi-hat bashing Harry gave before the mood slowed right down for the middle section. Not really a dancing number then, and certainly not one for the uninitiated.

All lights in the hall then faded down, except for row of three small white spots positioned on the wall behind the drum riser, as keyboards swirled in a slightly Celtic manner under whispered backing tapes and wailing guitar. The sound built as the lights slowly faded up then down a couple of times as the slow introduction to the first of three tracks from the new CD 'Breath of Life' built. The casual punter would hardly have realised this was from the latest CD considering the lack of introduction, 'Breath of Life' built. The casual punter would hardly have realised this was from the latest CD considering the lack of introduction, EVERYDAY received. The lights quickly brightened as the vocals began though, unlike the previous song it remained rather, ploddy throughout on this initial listen. Afterwards Bob spoke properly to the audience for the first time with a simple "from the new album, all right!".

Hiding in the shadows of the minimal club lighting rigA couple more calls of "you alright" followed before Mark Stanway led into the completely unexpected BACKSTREET KID. A real arm-punching-the-air anthem though there wasn't much of that here tonight. The punching guitar riffs and tight drum fills really made the song stand out against the previous one, the crowd agreeing judging by the volume of clapping and cheers as the last notes faded, helped no doubt by Bob touching his ear several times as if he couldn't quite hear the reaction. (Maybe he's been deafened by the backline as I seemed to be!)

Mark and Bob, more shadow dancers!Things quietened down for the classic LES MORTS DANSANT which, despite the mellow feel, never fails to hold the audience rapt and get them singing along. Tonight was no exception.

A call for "How Far Jerusalem" was drowned by the keyboard intro to the opening track of the new album, CRY. As mentioned I've not heard the album yet but this track hasn't had the best of reviews so it was a surprise when it popped up in the set. The vocal harmonies and general sound mix (very loud and not perfect) made the lyrics hard to hear and that didn't help to impress me. Again the call rose from behind me, louder than last time, for "How Far Jerusalem" and moments later the blokes wish was granted as HOW FAR JERUSALEM spat from the PA, Bob adding "sounds like second sight!" in reply to gentleman in the audience. The middle section of the track became a solo spot for Tony and his guitar before returning for the final verse or two.

Al keeps a happy eye on Harry while Bob keeps an eye on the reaction to the new songsBob finally stopped to chat to the audience asking initially "Everybody alright now? I saw half of you in the pub, or outside. I was walking and got clobbered…!" He continued "We're gonna pay another song from the new album 'Breath of Life', I hope you are enjoying the album for those of you that've bought it, If you've not, shame on you!" he smiled. "This song is called JUST LIKE JANUARY" and seemed a better track than Cry with more variation in the music and a crunchier riff though the bass and drums seemed a little pedestrian. It was short and punchy so not really, as Bob put it "A nice little ballad". A nice little rocker maybe. (A woman spotted my typing and asked if I was from the South Wales Argus as it began and seemed a little disappointed that I was taking notes for my own benefit.)

Tony rocking it upA pause to catch his breath then Bob replied "yeah, yeah, yeah" to some comment I must have missed before adding "you must know this" and prompting the audience to "sing with me" at he and Tony began another classic in the form of THE SPIRIT. Some of the batch of woman that had squeezed to just behind me obviously didn't see it as a classic, nor sang along, because they spoilt it by yapping and cackling throughout the song. Thankfully it was the only really quiet song of the set and they were drowned out later. Mid track Bob commented "I heard the Welsh people are brilliant at singing, you going to sing tonight?" Indeed they did with a chorus before the whole band joined in for a rocked up second half to the song.

A touch of feedback drowned what Bob said about "… Tony Clarkin" but he gained a cheer for his playing anyway before thrusting into DAYS OF NO TRUST another from the late 80's catalogue and obviously a favourite of the audience.

No, no, no, no, don't want no rockin' Chair"I want you to welcome a new member of the band. He used to be in a brilliant band called Thunder, he's our drummer right now, Harry James" Big cheers and a chorus of "Harry, Harry" for him so I guess he'd attracted a few of his own fans along. probably as loud as for any of the songs played so far! "This is called ROCKIN' CHAIR." Another rocker and one that had the crowd bopping and singing along with Bob though a few wails of feedback left a ringing impression on my ears.

Harmonies provided by Al BArrow and (out of shot) Tony ClarkinThough the front section were up for it Bob could obviously see those further back and seemed a little disappointed with their reaction judging by the "aw, come on" uttered to hopefully whip up a little fervour in the rapidly flagging and lacklustre crowd. If Bob didn't manage it the staccato riffing that led to the wild and raucous KINGDOM OF MADNESS spurred them back into action with some cheering and clapping. With a reinvigoration it sight Bob drew them further in by asking "Are we going to sing?" before the lyrics began and that certainly seemed to work judging by the voices of those around me.

The band bow out with the smiles letting us know they are happy to be backAs the band waved their goodbyes at 22:54 the cheering continued but soon died with just a bunch of catwhistles continuing in a poor attempt to bring the band back. It was as if most of the audience had never been to a gig before - or that they are used to bands that take very little to return to the stage. In the end I tried to start a round of hand clapping which eventually caught on and three minutes or so the band returned for a final track.

Harry hiding behind the cymbalsThe only talk as the grand keyboard introduction began from the shadows was "On the keyboards Mr Mark Stanway" before Tony joined in with some mellow guitar before chopping into the slowly building finale of the one (and only) SACRED HOUR. Al and Harry provided a fitting and propelling rhythm to propel the set to a conclusion at a couple of minutes past eleven. The band took their final bows to a repeated chorus of "Magnum" while Bob hoped we enjoyed it and said "We hope you'll come and see us again". As soon as they'd left the stage the cheers died and the hall lights brightened marking the end of what was a rather shorter than expected set that provided just under 80 min of music.

I felt quite disappointed at this as the band have plenty of good material to fill a two hour set and could quite easily have played on for at least another fifteen minutes. Mind you, towards the end of Kingdom of Madness Bob had walked towards Tony and mouthed "f*#!" as if to say he was exhausted so perhaps 80 minutes was a way to ease back into touring for the band. I guess age does creep into the equation, Mark Stanway put his glasses on to check the setlist at least once during the set and Bob certainly wasn't standing still for the whole night.

My overall impression was that the set may need some reworking and possibly some different new tracks inserted, plus a bit of extending, but these Backstreet Kids are certainly not ready for their Rockin' Chairs yet!

Moan, moan, gripe, whine.  Some reviewers are never happy!Just made it back from Newport at 01:00 - almost a 200 mile round trip - and thought I'd better put my post show thoughts down straight away as I'm not quite ready to collapse in bed.
The support, Tyla, was more listenable than I expected so I'll probably watch again tomorrow night. A printed sheet on the wall behind the PA (see photo above) gave later times than the bands actually played - though they had been altered in hand I spotted after the show - and the band came on roughly between the two. I didn't manage to grab a setlist but thankfully I managed to work out the new numbers so my Psion notes (and, for the fifth time to the woman next to me !'m not from the South Wales Argus) should have the complete, and correct, set.

The merchandise on sale - just  Tshirts ;o(Anyway, the set had a few surprises, some tracks I expected to hear that I didn't and three new ones that I'd not previously heard (including one of the ones not liked by Classic Rock mag which surprised me - the band must like it then). As Bob commented "shame on you" to those of us that hadn't bought the new CD I was surprised to find it not on sale after the show - surely a mistake as I doubt most of the audience had a copy. I had planned to buy one at the show knowing that is how many bands subsidise the cost of touring but that was not to be. They did have a couple of T-shirts at £15 and a long sleeved Last Dance one for £20. I'm not exactly short of gig T-shirts so passed on any of them. Interesting that the 'Wings of Heaven' symbol seems to faeture in the design - and the bass drum front..

Bob, happy that the crowd remember the bandThe poster mentioned above gave a set length of 90 mins for Magnum. Magnum came on at least 15 min earlier that expected (for those of us with poor eyesight) so I thought we'd maybe get a longer set . No chance. The set was just under 80 mins of music, a minute or two over if you include the 2-3 minutes between main set and solitary encore. The crowd were pretty lacklustre - after about 30 seconds of cheering all that was left were a few wolf whistlers until I started a slow handclap which eventually took off. The band returned and played the track everybody probably expected - one that wasn't too far from being accurate asit turned out. A lot of people left straight away but some stayed and others were coming in for what I assume is a rock club. All in all an OK comeback gig but a longer set would have been nice. It isn't as if they are short of material to play now is it? Doubt I'll bother with the London show unless they alter or extend the set a bit.

Tony Clarkin joining in with backing vocalsSome further thoughts on the gig - and an excuse to add further scans and photos from the gig. The cynical (myself included) may think having The Last Dance T-shirt on sale is just a means of getting rid of old stock. When I found the new CD in the shops I found that the rear of the card slipcase actually advertises it and, as it is probably the only other album on the SPV catalogue, it would have been the only other option they had for a tie-in T-shirt. It would also not have been on sale at pre reunion shows as it was recorded at the last couple of shows!

With more time to think about what I missed from the review I guess a little about the venue is in order. We booked tickets the morning of the gig and had to pick them up on the night - along with most of the audience judging by the crowd. When we eventually got to the ticket booth all we got for our trouble was our hands stamped - no ticket - though we could collect one after the show.

Al Barrow getting into the swing of thingsI looked at the venue website and the hall looked very odd, the venue being long and thin with the stage at the far end of the long side. Interior walls separated different areas making for a very crowded front //section. The rear section of the hall was completely cut off view wise from the stage but there was a video projection screen hanging down at the bar end so event here they could watch - and probably get a better view than most of the audience past the front half dozen rows. I guess there is likely to be a video tape recording of the show lurking in someone's hands too. The band seemed to be recording the show, possibly just a mixer feed- as two ambient mikes were set up just in front of the mixer desk to capture the audience reaction (and possibly the band).

The stage wasn't very high, about 15 inches, but there was another pipework barrier that raised to around 3 feet to prevent people at the front being pushed over by the rowdy crowd behind. The reason for this was obvious a few minutes before Magnum came on when a bunch of latecomers tried to barge their way to the front at the other side on the stage from us. Poster advertising the gig They were repelled but it is typical of this sort of venue, a bunch of people stick to the bar until just before the band they've come to see and then think they deserve to be right at the front in place of all the people that took their positions when they arrived. We managed to edge our y forwards to a row or two back through the support and main set as one or two people left for the bar or the toilets but even half a dozen people back the view of the stage wasn't great - especially as the band are hardly giants.

The veiling above the main section of the hall seemed to be moulded to look like a cave with stalactites dropping from the edge, about 4 feet from the stage, where the roof suddenly rose by about 3 feet. Quite why this was the case I don't know but it did make for a natural position to hang the house lights. In fact one row of lights facing the stage was pretty much all there was, none seemingly provided by the band. These lit the support act with some additional ones along the side added for the main act. The strangest thing was that they were angled down towards the front row of the audience rather than at the band so it was a little dark for decent photos. The sidelights did help though. Maybe there is a lot of ammunition thrown at the stage for some bands and lights in the eyes would make dodging it that much harder.

To give you an idea of how loud the show was I had a hearing test for work on the Monday morning and my left ear was markedly worse (unacceptable) than the previous test. This was the one that pointed away from the stage (but not the pillar that probably bounced most of the feedback straight into it) and the one that I didn't put a bit of cotton wool in. The one that as pointing to the PA/Clarkin's stack I made sure had protection as feedback and volume were particularly bad even during the soundcheck. I'm not sure if it was a sound problem being the first show or a problem with the house PA. Either way it wasn't particularly pleasant when the wails of feedback pierced though the hot and sweaty venue.

Anyway, the people I mentioned above are folk I was introduced to via an email discussion group. If you are interested in joining then follow the link below to find out more and, if you like the look of it join us to discus Magnum and related topics. When you say hello please mention where you found out about the group. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Magnum-fans/


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