|» Magnum 2007 11 18||
As the last notes of standard closing number The Sacred Hour fades out, Magnum is greeted with an unreserved ovation from the Astoria. All the same, tonight it is essentially the veteran pomp- rockers' impressive back catalogue, rather than the performance itself, that stands out. This gig has been highly anticipated among Magnum fans, as it offers a rare journey back in time. 1988 saw the band enjoying their biggest success, with the album Wings Of Heaven sparking three top-40 singles. At the time, Magnum was selling out arenas such as the Hammersmith Odeon as well as the NEC. With next year being the 20th anniversary of the classic record, the Birmingham band has chosen to celebrate the occasion by embarking on a mini tour on which they will be playing the album in its entirety.
Despite latest album Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow receiving good reviews, it is apparent tonight that it is the older material the crowd craves. With three of the first four numbers consisting of new songs, the response is fairly half-hearted, with the spectators clapping dutifully rather than excitedly. Diminutive front man Bob Catley does his best to enthuse the audience; encouraging them to sing along; but it is not until the introduction of older classics like How Far Jerusalem and All England's Eyes in the set that the desired response presents itself. By now, the fans are connected in a warm affection for the grand arrangements so characteristic of guitarist and song writer Tony Clarkin's compositions.
Reveling in the enthusiastic reception, Magnum deliver their music with a genuine passion still evident after all these years. Catley makes his trademark hand gestures in time to the music, and at 60 years of age, his voice has not lost an ounce of its strong character. Younger band mate and bassist Al Barrow, meanwhile, has a constant grin on his face, while laying a solid foundation together with drummer Jimmy Copley. The latter, a full member since two years, impresses with his heavy drumming which gives the subtle songs an extra edge.
The band's rendition of Wings Of Heaven, however, does not produce the kind of magic one had hoped for. While it is a pleasure to hear masterpieces like Wild Swan and Don't Wake The Lion, some of the numbers sound a bit thin and not as tight as they could be, and one almost gets the feeling that the band perform the tunes because they are obliged to rather than eager to actually play them. Maybe my expectations are set too high though, because looking at the satisfied faces in the audience, it is obvious that with as strong song material as Magnum's, the outcome will inevitably be enjoyable even if the band's performance suffers from some inconsistency.
7,5 chalices of 10