The Tramshed is a newish venue for Cardiff and in a city in dire need for a decent venue of decent size it is more than welcome, and on walking in to the venue it is a refreshing change to be welcomed by very helpful staff especially the security.
Tonight Vega are on the eve of the release of their new album ‘ Who We Are’ and having seen the band live on numerous occasions over the last couple of years, I know how good they are live so it was interesting to see the reaction they would get from a mainly Magnum crowd and hand on heart…they left with a lot more new fans tonight.
New album opener ‘Explode’ is the obvious choice to start things off tonight with Marcus Thurston’s opening riff exploding into an bombastic slice of melodic rock of the highest quality filled with masses of backing vocals before going straight into set stalwart ‘Kiss Of Life’ with it’s clap along drum beat provided by Dan Chantrey before vocalist Nick Workman coaxes the crowd into singing the chorus back to him.
It is plain to see how much more assured and charismatic all the members of the band have become on stage and a lot of that is down to the quality of the songs they have written and the work they put in on the road.
In a 50 minute set, every song tonight had a huge hook that reels you in and entices you to sing back to the band , whether it was the new material in ‘White Flag’ , ‘Saving Grace’ or the older stuff like ‘What The Hell’ and ‘Stereo Messiah’.
Vega are in that good habit of writing great catchy songs with unforgettable choruses that Def Leppard should even pinch but more importantly they can replicate it in a live arena.
I bought the album at the show and can testify that if melodic rock/AOR is your thing then this will be near the top of the list for album of the year. Vega play a headline show in London on May 28th, I urge you not to miss it.
Magnum have always been and will remain, a special band to me; they are one of those bands that once you become a fan, you will always be a fan. Granted over the last few album releases I haven’t exactly fallen head over heels like I did with ‘On A Storytellers Night’ and ‘Vigilante’, but there are always pieces of brilliance that I love and admire in this band and they are a must see every time they tour.
The second date of their UK Tour and the Tramshed is pretty much full and becoming a sweatbox by the time Mark Stanway makes his way to his keyboards while the crowd is chanting Magnum, Magnum, Magnum… and surprise opener ”Soldier Of The Line’ kicks off proceedings before Bob Catley appears all in white denim lit up by a spotlight, the ever present fan blowing his hair while he conjures up tales for us via his singing and hand gestures.
”On A Storytellers Night follows swiftly immersing you into a multitude of images in your head and as i am sure that every person who grew up with that song and album would agree that nobody can tell a story with a song quite like Tony Clarkin can, it is a gift not bestowed upon many and one he keeps on giving with new songs ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’, ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die’ and ‘Princess In Rags’.
The new album Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies features heavily in tonight’s set , that is how confident Magnum are in their new material, with five tracks being played, in fact out of the total 17 song setlist, 9 are taken from their last four releases. Personally I would love to hear some of the older and often unplayed songs that they have at their disposal in their back catalogue.
The biggest cheers are reserved for the songs that they dare not leave out of the set. ‘How Far Jerusalem’ gives Tony Clarkin and the rest of the band the chance to shine for the extended solo while Bob takes a breather, whilst ‘Les Morts Dansant’, possibly one of the finest rock songs written in the 20th century still has the ability and power to move me after all this time. The storyline is as meaningful and thoughtful now as it was when written about a fate that befell many World War 1 soldiers.
Magnum have a renewed energy with Al Barrow and Harry James in the fold and it isn’t fair to call them new blood anymore, such is the importance that each has brought with Al providing sterling backing vocals to complement Bob and Tony.
‘All Englands Eyes’ returns to the set and immediately gets everyone jumping, bearing in mind that the average age of a Magnum diehard fan must be mid 40s to 50s, this is no mean feat for any band but such was the enjoyment levels in the Tramshed tonight nobody cared about aching limbs and loss of hearing the day after.
After a brief exit off stage and the return of the “Magnum” chanting, the band return to be seated middle of the stage to give us ‘The Spirit’, with Tony playing the almost medieval intro whilst Bob recites the lyrics to that moment that everyone is waiting for when the song erupts into a cacophony of noise and the crowd are belting it out in tandem with Bob.
‘Kingdom Of Madness’ brings the evening to a climatic close with a lyric no more befitting than “A a lovely time is had by all…” and as the band say their goodbyes and everyone starts to leave you get a chance to see all the youngsters dotted around the crowd, some no older than late teens who have either grown up with their Fathers’ music (or being brainwashed by it) but either way there is another generation of Magnum fans to take over the mantle. Magnum are still firing on all cylinders and still putting on a hell of a show and, with a venue like this , Cardiff will always keep a welcome for them.
Review and photos by Darren Griffiths
1.Soldier Of The Line 2. On A Storytellers Night 3. Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies 4. Freedom Day 5. Dance Of The Black Tattoo 6. Crazy Old Mothers 7. Blood Red Laughter 8. Your Dreams Won’t Die 9. How Far Jerusalem 10. Unwritten Sacrifice 11. Twelve Men Wise & Just 12. Les Morts Dansant 14.Princess In Rags (The Cult) 15. Vigilante 16. The Spirit 17. Kingdom of Madness.
Album review (Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies)
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
Power Plays w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)
COLLATERAL Mr Big Shot (Roulette Media Records)
BABY HUSBAND Stop Thinking About Tomorrow (indie)
OF ALLIES Off The Map (indie)
EXPLORING BIRDSONG The River (indie)
MARISA AND THE MOTHS – Slave (indie)
CATTLE AND CANE I Wish I Knew Jesus (Like I Do)
KING VOODOO Creep (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 28 October (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 UNRULY CHILD Big Blue World (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 REDLINE Gods & Monsters (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 WILDWOOD KIN (Silvertone/Sony)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
MAGNUM Sleepwalking (1992)
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