It’s over thirty years that Tony Clarkin penned ‘Rockin’ Chair’ as a response to a critic’s comments that Magnum were getting on a bit. This was at the commercial high point in their career that saw them headlining arenas and playing on Top Of The Pops. It seems fitting then that the song features in tonight’s special 50th anniversary show at KK’s Steel Mill.
First though, opening the evening, is Anglo-Brazilian instrumental guitarist Billy Watman who impresses greatly with his take on a number of classic tracks that range from Boney M’ ‘Rasputin’ to ‘ Priest’s ‘Breaking The Law’. As a tribute to the headliners he plays a captivating version of ‘The Spirit’ and takes time in his short set to explain how he records and uses loops in his performance to embellish the sounds while using Mike Oldfield’s ‘Tubular Bells’ as the example.
Next up are Theia, who many will have seen supporting Magnum on their April tour, and to be honest I found their set tonight far more enjoyable. The brothers both seemed more relaxed and engaging with the crowd, so much so that you’d be forgiven to think that they were playing to a house full of their own fans. Their set is well paced and ‘No Crisis’ rocks hard, while ‘Hoo Woo’ shows a far lighter, poppier side and allows for crowd participation which is duly honoured. They close on ‘Back In Line’; another belting rock song that can’t help draw comparisons with Royal Blood.
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s it seemed that whether as part of a tour or just a one off there was always a Magnum date in December in either Birmingham or Wolverhampton to look forward to, and they were special occasions to end the year on. While that tradition may have ended in more recent years, the announcement of a December show to celebrate 50 years of the band in Wolverhampton rekindled those memories of anticipation.
Originally a one off date, some earlier shows that had to be postponed due to both positive covid test and the death of the Queen were rescheduled for around the same time. But the Wolverhampton date was always going to be the special one, with their most dedicated fans travelling from all over the UK and beyond to mark the occasion.
Between the support sets, Magnum songs covering their entire career were played over the PA to help everyone get in the mood, and by the time the band took to the stage, all those that had been watching England get beaten in the World Cup had turned up to make sure the venue was at capacity. A magnificent ‘Days Of No Trust’ has everyone singing along right from the off before moving into more modern territory. Indeed, their dates that started back in April have been on the back of two new studio albums; The Serpent Rings & The Monster Roars, so a couple of tracks from both albums are given an airing. ‘The Archway Of Tears’ being one of most noteable featuring all the ingredients of a classic Magnum song; wonderful dynamics with Rick Benton’s keys being prominent, a catchy sing-a-long chorus and distinctive Clarkin solo.
The classics are never too far away; ‘Wild Swan’ has always been a personal favourite and the lesser played ‘The Flood’ goes down a storm too. ‘Les Morts Dansant’ proves a special moment too as one of their most loved songs, it has plenty of audience participation and the screen back drops playing images from the First World War make it a poignant moment.
The encore alone of ‘Kingdom Of Madness’, ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ and ‘Sacred Hour’ would have been worthy of admission price alone. All songs that the majority here will have heard and seen performed a multitude of times over the years and all will hold special memories. Images of the band over their career play on the screen behind will help stir some of those memories if needed. While as good a set as it was, it would have been nice for there to have been a little deviation from what was played earlier in the year. However, as a finale, Bob leads us through ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ which is a fitting way to end the show.
Days Of No Trust
Lost On The Road To Eternity
The Monster Roars
The Archway Of Tears
Dance Of The Black Tattoo
Where Are You Eden?
The Flood (Red Cloud’s War)
The Day After The Night Before
Les Morts Dansant
All England’s Eyes
Kingdom Of Madness
On A Storyteller’s Night
We Wish You A Merry Christmas