Gig review: MAGENTA – The Citadel Arts Centre, St. Helens, 13 May 2017

MAGENTA - The Citadel Arts Centre, St. Helens, 13 May 2017

With the band celebrating fifteen years together and with a fabulous new album to promote, Rob Reed’s Magenta completed their (all too) short Spring tour in front of a suitably appreciative audience at The Citadel in St. Helens – a small, but perfectly formed, venue that tends to “punch above its weight” with the status of acts that perform there.

Promoted by the Classic Rock Society, a non-profit making group who do sterling work in promoting live progressive rock (check them out here:, Rob, with his long-time bandmates Christina Booth (vocals) and Chris Fry (guitars) and short-timers Dan Nelson (bass) and Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Griffiths (drums) duly delivered an exceptional set of classic progressive rock.

The evening got underway with a short, but well appreciated set from young Liverpool band Vulture Cult – who, despite not really complementing the main attraction, delivered a listenable setlist of self-penned material.

Not an easy gig in front of a bunch of hoary old farts raised on progressive rock – but they did well.

MAGENTA - The Citadel Arts Centre, St. Helens, 13 May 2017

Magenta got the big build up from the CRS guy  – ‘“Ladies and Gentlemen – Magenta!”. The crowd roared. Nothing. A minute later they shambled onto the stage – had they been looking for bananas? (in-joke – note said banana on drum riser…). (Said banana has not been Photoshopped. Ed.)

No matter, within seconds all was forgiven as the band launched into ‘Trojan’, the lead-off track on the new album – a powerful, yet subtle tour de force that gives everyone in the band an opportunity to put down a marker for the evening, especially Fry’s Gilmouresque phrasings.

‘Speechless’ (from the album of the same name) and ‘Gluttony’ (from the superb ‘Seven’) were delivered with consummate musicianship and were followed with ‘Legend’ another great track from the new album ‘We Are Legend’.

As good as these tracks were, there’s always a moment in any gig worthy of the name where the band noticeably shifts gear and, for me, this happened with ‘Pearl’ – where a combination of Tina’s vocals and Chris Fry’s wonderfully languid guitar work moved things onto a new level.

Strange that a shift down in tempo propelled the gig upwards – but there it is.

MAGENTA - The Citadel Arts Centre, St. Helens, 13 May 2017

As  mentioned before, Magenta is undoubtedly Rob Reed’s band but his wonderfully understated keyboard work, combined with his self-deprecating manner really does give the other members of the band their time in the sun.

And they take it with both hands.

Despite her recent health problems, Tina’s vocals are just sublime and Chris Fry must surely be one of the most underrated guitarists in rock – his fretwork on ‘Demons’ was just stunning.

Mention too to the engine room – Nelson’s bass was rock-solid all evening and ‘Jiffy’s’ drum work, was both subtle and aggressive in equal measure as required.

Add to all this brilliance the fact that everybody in the band was obviously having a great time and in many ways you’ve got the recipe for a perfect gig – just add bananas.

They may be back next year too – can’t wait…

Review by Alan Jones
Photos by David Randall

Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, second Sunday of the month at 18:00. Expect some prog.

Setlist: Trojan, Speechless, Gluttony, Legend, Pearl, Devil At The Crossroads, Anger, Colours, Demons, Metamorphosis.   Encore: Lizard King, Pride

Album review

MAGENTA - The Citadel Arts Centre, St. Helens, 13 May 2017


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