Magnum Live at the Garage Glasgow
Like most lovers of live music, I have a long list of bands I’d like to see and photograph in concert. Although I was able to scratch one name off that list when the legendary Magnum rolled into Glasgow on Wednesday night, my list didn’t get any shorter. And that’s because another band got added…
I’d never claim to be particularly familiar with Magnum’s music outside the material they released during their 1980’s heyday, although strangely enough I’ve had their music in my collection for as long as I can remember. I also have to be honest enough to admit that they kinda fell off my music radar back in the mid 90’s when they embarked on a 6 year sabbatical. But as soon as I learned that they were heading up to our neck of the woods, I dusted down Wings of Heaven and gave it a blast. And having listened to it for the first time in years, I took all of – oh I dunno – half a second to decide that I had to ask the band’s press person if decibelROGUE could go along to cover their show at The Garage, Glasgow.
As usual we rocked up in time to see the support band, which on this occasion was Vega. Such was the space required by the risers for Magnum’s keyboards and drums, Nick Workman and the guys looked as if they had to be shoehorned into what little space there was left onstage. It was pretty tight! Despite all that, Vega kicked the evening off with a great set of songs including tracks from their latest album Who We Are. Their music has a very ‘big’ feel to it. Great melodies, huge riffs, cool synths and Workman’s soaring vocals all combine to create a sound which belongs in much larger venues. Highlights included the barnstormingly anthemic rockers Saving Grace and White Flag. Someone once said always leave the audience wanting more. That they did. So they’re now on my list…
Despite having been around since 1972 and undergoing several changes in personnel, the Magnum of 2016 is not too different from their 80’s heyday. So in a time when we see fans of other long-established rock bands get their knickers in a twist about the merits or otherwise of classic v’s modern era lineups, there was no doubting we were watching the real deal here. 3 of the band’s lineup from breakthrough album On a Storyteller’s Night remain. Founding members Tony Clarkin and Bob Catley are still out front on lead guitar and vocals respectively, and Mark Stanway who joined the band (just!) 36 years ago is still on keys. The lineup is completed by former Thunder drummer Harry James and Al Barrow on bass.
Although the venue was pretty full during Vega’s set, by the time Magnum took to the stage, it was rammed tight with multiple generations of fans. Then for the next hour and forty minutes or so, Bob Catley had each and every one of them in the palm of his hand.
We only had to wait until the second song of the evening for the first of many highpoints. On a Storyteller’s Night began with Catley inviting the audience to sing with him. And guess what – they didn’t need to be asked twice! Cue the first of many fist in the air, sing along moments. The band, as you’d expect, were right at the top of their game. Bob Catley prowled and posed his way around the stage like a man half his age, Tony Clarkin was flat-out awesome on guitar and Mark Stanway’s keyboards added a layer of class to every song. Meantime down in the engine room of the band, messrs James and Barrow ensured everything was driven relentlessly onwards with properly impressive performances on drums and bass respectively.
The absolute highlight of the evening came in the encore. The Spirit is probably my favourite Magnum song of the lot and is a song which, for me at least, strikes the perfect balance between prog and heavy rock. For the most part a mellow acoustic singalong with the audience, but in the final couple of minutes it erupted into a properly riff heavy, roof-bustin’ finale. Epic.
In fact, epic is probably the best word to summarise Magnum’s entire set. There was a fantastic authenticity and integrity in their performance. I’ve been at gigs in the past where bands have really pissed their audience off with ‘reworkings’ of their classic songs. Magnum however, have remained faithful to their original material, performed it brilliantly, and their Glasgow fans loved them for it.
You can follow Magnum on Facebook HERE
You can buy Magnum’s latest album Sacred Blood, Devine Lies HERE
You can follow Vega on Facebook HERE
You can buy Vega’s latest album Who We Are HERE