Magnum over the years have become a British institution. Like Motorhead, Saxon, Status Quo and several others they annually tour the highways and byways of the nation and no matter where they turn up they are guaranteed a good crowd. It is a mark of great band when paying punters are willing to get along to the shows year in, year out knowing that they are in for an entertaining, value for money night out.
So it was that we found ourselves in a near capacity crowd at The Garage to welcome back Bob Catley and the rest of the merry crew. Out on tour in support of their latest album, ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden’, the band may be ageing gracefully but certainly show no signs of slowing down.
Opening proceedings tonight were Neonfly who, unfortunately, were nearing the end of their set when I arrived due to an early show start. I did catch the last couple of numbers though and was impressed by the band’s melodic hard rock which borders on power metal.
They did appear to be a bit heavy for some tastes but they received a healthy cheer at the end of their closing number which suggested that they had gained a number of new friends, myself included. I will need to watch for the band’s return to Scotland and try to catch a full show.
As the temperature continued to rise in the now packed hall, the lights dimmed and Magnum took to the stage. Opening proceedings with ‘Live ‘til You Die’ it was clear that the band were on their usual top form and that the crowd were behind them one hundred percent. ‘Black Skies’ followed with some tasty guitar work from Tony Clarkin.
Photo: David Randall
Get Ready To ROCK! guru and Magnum fan, Dave Randall, had suggested in his review of the band’s show in Buckley that perhaps the band played things a little on the safe side when it came to set list selection on this tour. With such a large back catalogue to choose from and with so many great songs it would be hard to please everyone. I was surprised though that the set only contained three songs from the excellent new album, the first of these being ‘Unwritten Sacrifice’.
Mark Stanway’s familiar keyboard intro to ‘How Far Jerusalem’ was greeted with a huge cheer as was ‘Les Morts Dansant’ which followed and provided one of my highlights of the night, although my wife was convinced that it was all slightly out of tune!
Things were then brought back up to date with another new track, ‘Falling For The Big Plan’, which was impressive live. Bob and Tony then stepped forward to play the intro to ‘The Spirit’ with Bob in fine voice before the rest of the band joined in to provide a bombastic ending.
Photo: David Randall
By now the heat in the hall had crept up to sauna-like levels and for ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Kingdom Of Madness’, which closed the main set, we had to beat a retreat to the door at the rear of the hall for a breath of air.
The band however rocked on regardless, especially on ‘Kingdom…’ with Tony cranking out the opening riff like his life depended on it. After a quick breather the guys returned to the stage for another new track ‘Too Many Clowns’ before rounding off the night in fine style with ’Sacred Hour’.
Once again Magnum proved that they are still one of the best live bands on the circuit and showed why they continue to command such a loyal following. If you have never had the pleasure of seeing the band live I heartily recommend that you do, I am sure you will get an opportunity again in roughly twelve months’ time.
Review and photos by David Wilson, except where stated
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