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
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.