Live Photos and Gig Review Credit: Margarita Khartanovich (Photographer/Live Gig reporter Myglobalmind Webzine
1972 – with this year hard rock band Magnum counts its music history, just 10 years later than another glorious British band was formed – The Rolling Stones. Like the latter, Magnum started as a covers act gradually creating its own material and carving a niche for itself with spanking and highly energetic, yet melodic pomp rock songs. The excellent songwriting skills of guitarist Tony Clarkin and characteristic vocal stylings of Bob Catley granted the band with the cult status for their very special mix of AOR and Hard Rock. Almost 42 years have passed since their first gig. They have toured with the likes of Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Ozzy Osbourne and headlined the Reading Festival and Monsters of Rock. So, what’s now?
And now is a great commercial success of their 6th studio album after the split – Escape from the Shadow Garden (released in March 2014). They brought Tony Clarkin back into the studio, recorded some great songs that comprised their earlier sound with contemporary skills and technical capacities and reached number 38 in the official UK Albums Chart, last achieved by Magnum in 1983. Put simply, Magnum is still alive and kicking. And what is more, the band is still loved and profoundly respected by its numerous fans. That was what everyone could grasp without undue effort during its April show at Tavastia, Helsinki.
Imagine the situation when you have to part with your best friend. You haven’t seen each other for a number of years but when he or she is back, you feel like you’ve never had to say good-bye to each other. It just happens naturally because of this strong connection between two of you. Exactly the same thing occurs when you see a band that you have special attachment to. However long you might be not able to enjoy its live performance, you will most definitely welcome it back with the open embrace (and no words needed). And so they did in Helsinki. Bob Catley didn’t have to say much apart from “Great to be here, it’s fantastic” to be greeted with rapturous applause. And then the gig just flew as the continuation of the phrase, interrupted some time ago.
The conversation between two old friends (Magnum and their audience) started as usual with “what’s new?” – a few songs from the new album. After that they recalled their past with the songs like “The Spirit” and “Vigilante” (produced by Queen drummer Roger Taylor in 1986). They sang along “Kingdom of Madness”; they even played along when Bob Catley passed around his blue tambourine; they laughed together when Mark Stanway left his keyboards during the last part of the show thinking that the concert was over.
And they both enjoyed their memories of 70s and 80s, when rock’n’roll was a religion, a cure, a passion, a disease. Magnum carries this quintessential spirit of that time: it is in the rhythm (vibrant and accurate), in the sound (catchy tunes, captivating melodies), in the manner of playing (without distortion equipment) and in the manner of performing (that looks like storytelling). Bob Catley seems to be not only singing but showing/acting each single word with his face, arms and posture. No elements of show, peacockery or bravado are needed, when you have this sincere expressiveness that connects you with the audience stronger than anything else. Ending the show with “Sacred Hour” seems very symbolic in this matter.
Perhaps, the last thing that could be added is that Magnum is sure to be a great live act, very professional, earnest and enjoyable. The only strange feeling about the gig that I can’t shake off is that it looked a bit like a festive activity in a retirement home, but that’s said with all due respect for the band and the crowd. Even though music is timeless, it doesn’t protect anyone from aging, however sad it is. But what can you do? I guess the only way out is just to be faithful to the music idols and support them. As long as you believe in them, they will stay young forever.
Live ‘til You Die
Falling for the Big Plan
Dance of the Black Tattoo
Blood Red Laughter
How Far Jerusalem
Les Morts Dansant
All England’s Eyes
Too Many Clowns
All My Bridges
Vigilante (produced by Queen)
Kingdom of Madness