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.
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.
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
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!".
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!)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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'
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,
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..
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
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!
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.
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).
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. 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.
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
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
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/