Magnum Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 01, 2018    
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Magnum - Trinity, Bristol (UK) - 20 February 2018

As an old fart who likes Rock music, I've seen Magnum a fair number of times over the years, starting with the 'Vigilante' tour back in the Stone Age. When you grow up with a band, it's easy to let sentiment cloud your judgement when maybe their albums or performances aren't what they once were. However, tonight I enter the church now used as a music venue with no doubts in my mind that their new album 'Lost On The Road To Eternity' is the best they have done for many years.

Wolverhampton-based support Rebecca Downes has a superb voice, but much of the music lacks real bite, unfortunately, only coming to life at the end of her set with 'Believe' and a rousing rendition of 'With A Little Help From My Friends'. She's undoubtedly a talented lady who is pleased as punch to be supporting local heroes Magnum, but she really needs to balance the backing musicians so they can give a much punchier feel to the songs.

Although smaller than the venue they normally play in Bristol, The Trinity is a lovely place that's just the right size for a good night, a good view and good sound throughout. As Magnum come out to the tinkling keyboards of new member Rick Benton, the crowd is excited as ever, and when the band launch into the well-paced bounce of 'When We Were Younger', it's clear we are in for a good night. The sound is spot on and any worries I had that Bob Catley's vocals may be in trouble (he was noticeably croaky at Minehead last month) are dispelled. As is their want these days, the band concentrate on 21st century material for a good portion of the set, and as usual, the selection of songs is a good one, bolstered immeasurably by the likes of 'Peaches And Cream', 'Without Love' and 'Show Me Your Hands' from the new album. It's a bit unsettling to have an English septuagenarian with long white hair encouraging us to "show me yours, I'll show you mine", but it might just be me. My early highlight is the inclusion of the album's title track which, although it is very similar to 'When We Were Younger' at times, is already cemented as one of my favourite Magnum tracks.

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The new material is broken up by live staples like 'Les Morts Dansant' (a song that always brings a lump to my throat) and 'How Far Jerusalem', but it's as the set nears the end that things get really interesting. I'm reasoning that they've got time for two or three more songs to take the set to the hour and a half mark when, out of nowhere, they play 'Don't Wake The Lion', a song that hasn't graced the set-list for many years now. Quite simply, it's amazing, emotional and a true testament to the song-writing of Tony Clarkin who, by the way, hasn't moved more than five feet all night as usual. As we're reeling from this, there's still time for 'All England's Eyes' and 'The Spirit', and then encores of 'Vigilante' (Catley's old favourite) and 'When The World Comes Down', another that's been absent from the live set for some time. It's a killer finish and bonus credit must go to Benton and new drummer Lee Morris, the latter being simply superb throughout, helped by a massive drum sound.

I can say without exaggeration that Magnum have just delivered their best set-list and show since I saw them on the 'Wings Of Heaven' tour in 1988. Yes... it was that good, and judging by the soppy grins on faces as we shuffle away from the venue, I might not be the only one who thinks so.

Alan Holloway

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