MAGNUM @ Institute, Birmingham 19/5/16


One of Britain’s finest reach their home town

There’s something comforting about what we might term as the second coming of Magnum. Their recent records – and there have been lots and lots of them – have all been superb, and their live shows over the last few years have been pretty much guarantees of quality.

The first of those things has proved again with the brilliant “Sacred Blood ‘Divine’ Lies” earlier this year, which continues the run of success (both musically and commercially) and happily the events of the hour and three quarters that they spend onstage prove there is no let up in the live powers either.

The first thing you notice – and it’s hard to avoid – is Bob Catley’s Miami Vice style white suit. Kind of Crockett and Tubbs meets Tamworth, it is an unusually flashy adornment to the usually most unflappable of bands.

Magnum, and probably even they would agree to this point themselves, are not a “cool” band, but they are – just like Thunder with whom they share a member in Drummer Harry James – a brilliant one, and the set they’ve picked for this year’s tour is the clear manifestation of this.

Like always, you can guess they’ll play a healthy mix of new material amongst the classics. This is a band who likes to keep things fresh, but also who recognises their fine legacy and does a wonderful job of curating it.

The new songs they play here, at what is effectively a hometown show (and their first for a while at that) are all worthy additions to the canon. In particular the trio of title track, which is a belter, a real classic Magnum stomper, likewise “Crazy Old Mothers” is great fun and “Princess In Rags (The Cult)” is the best on the record and isn’t far off here either.

Then of course there’s the back catalogue which is the equal of few and better than many, there’s not many songs as good as “All England’s Eyes” or “On A Storytellers Night” and everyone here – including the band – knows it.

Everyone here seems comfortable in their skin as they move along. Tony Clarkin, the man who writes the songs, also spits out the solos with consummate skill, Mark Stanway’s keyboards are used better by this band than just about any other hard rock outfit utilises theirs and Al Barrow provides one half of the most ebullient rhythm section there is.

Which is why, as the wonderful version of “The Spirit” and the maelstrom of “Kingdom Of Madness” end things here and they take their bows, everyone knows they’ll be back next time for more of the same.

Simply Magnum are one of the best we have.

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