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ConcertsMagnum- Live at Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, 10/31/2009

Posted on Sunday, November 08 2009 @ 08:22:34 CST by Pete Pardo
Progressive Rock

With Into The Valley Of The Moon King given no less than a five star rating here at Sea of Tranquillity expectations were certainly high as Magnum stopped off in Wolverhampton as part of a 35 date European Tour. Fortunately they did not disappoint with a performance that was further evidence that even in their autumn of their career, Magnum remain a compelling live proposition.

Support was provided by young local five piece Liberty Lies who play half an hour of driving Hard Rock and in front man Shaun have a powerful vocalist with a blues edge that gives them a distinctive style. Punchy anthem "Show Me The Way" and the melancholic "The Burning Ashes" are highlights of a display that is carried on a wave of youthful exuberance and adrenalin.

The Wulfrun Hall has long held special significance for Magnum and was the venue of choice to close their "Farewell" tour back in 1995. Since that time the band have returned rejuvenated and recent albums Brand New Morning, Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow and the aforementioned Moon King stand alongside the rest of the Magnum canon as some of their most cherished works. Confident in this fact, the band have overhauled the set so that two thirds is taken from these last three albums, two apiece from Brand New Morning and Princess Alice and no less than six from Moon King ensures the current show is notably different from recent nostalgia tours that were undertaken for Wings of Heaven and On A Storyteller's Night.

The show starts with Mark Stanway's swirling keyboards leading into "Cry To Yourself" and Magnum set the Wulfrun Hall alight with a polished and inspirational display that sets them apart from some of their peers who give the impression of simply going through the motions. Fresh from Thunder's farewell tour, drummer Harry James is an accomplished player who gels perfectly with bassist Al Barrow and together they provide a solid foundation. Bob Catley simply belongs centre stage and, standing to his left for more than three decades, Tony Clarkin is looking fitter and healthier than in recent years and injects his playing with a real sense of purpose. The decision to skew the set in favour of newer material provides a fresh and vibrant atmosphere and the crowd respond warmly to the likes of "Brand New Morning", "Dragons Are Real", "A Face In The Crowd" and "No One knows His Name". When they do delve deeper into the past it is to deliver an emotionally charged "Les Morts Dansent" and the main set concludes with "All England's Eyes" and "Vigilante", of which the intro to the latter has been providing shivers down the spine moment at Magnum shows since 1986. For the encore the dramatic "Don't Wake The Lion" is rightfully included with Catley in fine voice and this leads into a rousing "Kingdom of Madness" that rounds off a thoroughly entertaining set.

There may be those that will bemoan the absence of perennial favourites "How Far Jerusalem", "The Spirit" and "Sacred Hour" but that Magnum are still delivering such high standards both on stage and in the studio is testimony to their enduring legacy.

Dean Pedley



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