Originally scheduled to happen just as the live music scene was forced to close down, this show had been a long time in the making. Originally Magnum’s tour was to be in support of the then just released The Serpent Rings but subsequently another strong studio album The Monster Roars has appeared. The songs simply continue to flow from the pen of Tony Clarkin who along with Bob Catley shows no signs of slowing down some 50 years since the pair first graced the stage of the Rum Runner.
Eclectic up and coming duo THEIA were first to take the stage and displayed no signs of being overawed by the occasion. Rock fans are known for embracing new and emerging talent and tonight was no exception as their groove-injected foot stompers were lapped up by the audience, many who had taken their seats early to be sure of catching brothers Kyle and Ash. With their enthusiasm, determination and obvious talent you wouldn’t bet against THEIA headlining here one day.
Vega have built up a decent reputation as a live band over the years and it was another warm welcome from Symphony Hall for the Nick Workman led sextet. Currently touring in support of their seventh album, Anarchy & Unity, that was released back in September, Vega’s harmony enriched melodies rang out loud and clear across all four corners of the venue. As we have come to expect Nick gave it his all vocally, and the twin guitar plus keyboards set up gives an assured and authentic sound to their well polished melodic rockers.
Just around the corner from Symphony Hall is Birmingham’s Walk of Stars which recognises many of the City’s musical heroes; surely after half a century Magnum have more than earned their spot. From the days of playing covers at the Rum Runner to building their fan base at the Railway and eventually headlining the NEC, Magnum have seen it all in what has been a long and sometimes arduous journey. When mainstream rock “experts” champion great British songwriters then rarely will the name Tony Clarkin be mentioned, and yet the Magnum back catalogue is right up there with the very best. And as a live band they are still delivering night after night.
Met with a roar of approval as they took the stage Magnum wowed the audience with a set that showcased some of their more recent albums but also placed a greater emphasis on the 80’s era than has been the case over the past few years. ‘Days of No Trust’ made for a lively opener and it was immediate apparent that Bob was in strong voice and as animated as ever. With the prolific Dennis Ward now in the band, the on stage vocal harmonies are fully rounded and the American bassist has fitted in perfectly. ‘Lost on the Road to Eternity’ followed before a number of songs from the last two records and then they launched into ‘The Flood’, something of a forgotten classic from 1992’s Sleepwalking. A song that really exemplifies the depth of Tony’s songwriting, ‘The Flood’ was arguably the highlight of a show that had many peaks.
Always a strong on stage number, ‘Wild Swan’ ushered in the second half of the set where classic anthem followed classic anthem. ‘Les Morts Dansant’, ‘All England’s Eyes’, ‘Vigilante’ and more were greeted like long lost friends and you only have to think about some of the songs that didn’t make the set this time around (‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘The Spirit’, ‘When The World Comes Down’ to name just three) to appreciate just how many superb songs Magnum have delighted us with over the years. Technical gremlins meant the musicians were unable to hear each other for the encore but they simply let the audience carry them home through ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ and the mighty ‘Sacred Hour’, before departing on a wave of applause, smiles and handshakes.
Fifty years young, Magnum remain one of the UK’s most beloved and cherished hard rock bands. Long may they continue.
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
Days of No Trust (reprise)