Magnum - 'Escape From The Shadow Garden Live 2014'

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Magnum - 'Escape From The Shadow Garden Live 2014'

An essential souvenir for all those who saw the gigs and a classy showcase of the band for those that didn't.

Having seen Magnum on this tour several times, two of the shows having been reviewed in previous issues, it would be easy to write a glowing album review with just a cursory listen, the set-list being fairly consistent throughout the tour. But then again, having seen firsthand how good Magnum were on stage, this album has got a lot to live up to in capturing a sound and performance to do the band justice.

Kicking off with the latest album's opening track, 'Live 'Til You Die' instantly has the classic Magnum beat to it. For anyone who has seen the band live, it's easy to conjure up the image of Bob Catley, arms pumping to the rhythm with the crowd clapping along right from the start. The set can almost be split into distinct sections, the next few tracks showcasing a few heavier tracks including 'Freedom Day' and 'Dance Of The Black Tattoo', still plenty of harmonies in there but proving they're not just melodic lightweights.

Despite being recorded over a number of dates, the transition from song to song is seamless, even as the pace changes for my own favourite section of the album. Despite being recorded nearly thirty years apart 'Unwritten Sacrifice' and 'Les Morts Dansant' are linked by their lyrical and emotional portrayal of the futility and tragedies of The Great War. Not the standard fare of most Rock bands, but then Tony Clarkin has never followed the clichéd lyrical routes. Sandwiched between the two is 'How Far Jerusalem', another stalwart in the live show, and one that treats us to an extended Bluesy solo from Clarkin. Catley's vocals may have matured over the years but he still holds the tone and passion to bring Clarkin's word to life.

Another newie, 'Falling For The Big Plan', brings the tempo back up for the closing stretch of 'All England's Eyes', 'Vigilante' and 'Kingdom Of Madness'; all of which get the audience bouncing and singing along to a triumphant finish. As a fan who'll always want more, I would have loved to have heard the encores too; 'The Spirit', 'Sacred Hour', 'Too Many Clowns' along with 'On Christmas Day' from the winter dates.

There's been many classic live albums over the years, 'Strangers In The Night', 'Live And Dangerous', 'Life After Death' and whilst, in today's markets, it may not reach those heights, what it does have in common is that it captures a band performing at their peak. Produced by the band themselves, the sound shows the confidence of simply enjoying what they do best. An essential souvenir for all those who saw the gigs and a classy showcase of the band for those that didn't.

Ian Parry

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