Gig review: MAGNUM – Islington Town Hall, 4 May 2014

Magnum - Islington Academy, London, 4 May 2014

Turning to item 5.1 on the agenda…oh wait, sorry thought I was in a council meeting given tonight’s venue. The hall features a rather grand stage with stalls (complete with springing floor) and a small circle. A new venue to me that holds around 700 people and it wasn’t too far off capacity tonight.

This was the final date on Magnum’s current UK tour (bit like their tours of old taking in thirteen shows) and the good news is they are back in November/December time (with hopefully the classics changed around a bit – bring back ‘Back To Earth’!).

Neonfly - Islington Academy, London, 4 May 2014
Photo: Simon Dunkerley

The excellent Neonfly opened the evening with a set still reliant on their 2011 debut album ‘Outshine The Sun’, although their new album is due in the autumn.

Vocalist Will Norton was a real live wire onstage as they opened with ‘Ship With No Sails’, a highly catchy melodic/power metal song that always reminds me of a metalised version of Journey.

Two new songs off the forthcoming album, ‘Better Angels’ and ‘Heart Of The Sun’ both sounded promising on first listen and looking forward to hearing the new music in full.

The set closed with ‘Morning Star’, the other stand out song on their debut album and they seemed to go down well with the crowd, no mean feat given their metal sound which is far removed from Magnum’s.

Magnum - Islington Academy, London, 4 May 2014

Magnum have never disappointed in the ten times now I have seen them live (they were the first ever band I saw live at the Monsters of Rock festival in 1985!).

Tonight’s set was a good mix of songs from their albums since they reformed, forming most of the first half of the set and then the second half of the set had the classics fans come to expect.

Bob Catley, resplendent in a blue jacket for the start of the show, still has those distinctive and melodic vocals and ‘Freedom Day’ sounded really good live tonight. Guitarist Tony Clarkin kept the riffs and solos coming and to hear ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’ live was another treat.

Magnum - Islington Academy, London, 4 May 2014

The crowd (with the Magnumaniacs resplendent in dinky purple wizard hats at the front) lapped up the songs and by the time Mark Stanway played the distinctive intro to the classic ‘How Far Jerusalem’, the crowd noise level went up a notch, along with the first bouncing up and down from the more energetic members of the audience.

‘Les Morts Dansant (The Dance Of The Dead)’ never fails to hit the spot when played live, another chance for Bob Catley to shine and yes folks his hand theatrics were in fine form throughout the evening.

‘The Spirit’ with its slow build start is one of those songs the band has to play and ‘Vigilante’ got the crowd bouncing up and down again. ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ closed the set to a rapturous reception and then we had two encores, ‘Too Many Clowns’ off their new album and after another suitably fine Mark Stanway keyboards intro, ‘Sacred Heart’.

It shows the strength of Magnum’s back catalogues that they can leave out classics like say ‘Just Like An Arrow’ and feature a handful of songs of their new album. A highly enjoyable night of music and everyone went home smiling as that’s what a Magnum live show is all about, escaping to a magical world of music created by five fine musicians.

Review by Jason Ritchie
Photos by Andy Nathan, except where indicated

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