Live Gig News Photos

Magnum at The Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton, December 10th 2016

Words & Pics: Reg Richardson

This was one of Magnum’s final gigs of 2016, a year the band may want to put behind them following the unexpected departure of long-standing keyboard maestro Mark Stanway. Mark announced that he was leaving the band with just a handful of gigs left on the tour leaving the rest with the decision of whether or not to finish the tour. The decision was made t6o carry on and in Mark’s place was a face familiar to those fans of the Rebecca Downes band, it was Rick Benton, who had learned the entire set almost overnight to allow the band to continue and complete the tour.


Before Magnum came on stage the very popular, and well received, AOR band, Vega came to entertain us – and entertain us they did with their brand of 1980’s/90’s style melodic/AOR rock that had some of the familiar tones of bands such as Asia woven into the fabric of the set.

Vega’s frontman and vocalist Nick Workman is one of those singers who captivates audiences with a strong vocal style, endless energy and an engaging personality. Tonight’s set was taken from across the band’s 4 albums with most taken from their most recent effort, Who We Are, released earlier this year. For openers they gave us ‘Explode’ taken from that album and from this point onwards it was non-stop AOR right to the final song, ‘Saving Grace’, also from the most recent album. In between the two each of the other three albums got a mention and the songs went down with no less approval from the crowd. With Workman’s vocal style & personality and the musical abilities of the other members of the band, Tom & James Martin, Marcus Thurston and Dan Chantrey, it’s easy to see, and hear, why Vega have become such a popular and successful outfit.

Vega Setlist:


Kiss of Life

Gonna Need Some Love

Every Little Monster

Fade Into the Flames

Stereo Messiah

Hands in the Air

White Flag

Wherever we Are

Saving Grace


Magnum were still on their Sacred Blood ‘Divine’ Lies Tour and arrived on stage to a cacophony of noise. They started with the announcement that Rick Benton had joined the band for the final shows of the tour. The band, as expected, also wished Mark Stanway all the best for the future but expanded no further on the reasons for his sudden departure, made all the more unusual by that departure coming mid-tour and without any apparent reason.

This didn’t stop the remaining band members playing a storming set with their substitute keyboards player in place who, seemingly, gave a faultless performance. Bob Catley may have just become a grandfather for the third time but his ability to punch out the songs hasn’t suffered at all.

The set was evenly split between the very early days of Magnum and the most recent and it kicked off with ‘Soldier of the Line’ from 1982’s Chase the Dragon and was immediately followed by one of the bands most endearing songs, ‘On a Storytellers Night’, the title track from their 1985 release. Al Barrow, with his almost permanent grin, prowled around one side of the stage, bass guitar booming out the low stuff while songwriter extraordinaire, Tony Clarkin, patrolled the other end playing a guitar that sings the notes. In between was Harry James, taking a break from his drumming duties with Thunder and, of course frontman and vocalist Bob Catley. I reckon Bob went to the same school of hand-signalling as Uriah Heep’s Mick Box and if you asked him to say anything WITHOUT moving his hands he’d be totally flummoxed. Oh, and how could I forget the keyboard saviour Rick Benton, who played a blinder from the shadows.

The set moved on with the title track from the new album followed by ‘Freedom Day’ and ‘Dance of the Black Tattoo’ before returning yet again to the new album for ‘Crazy Old Mothers’; possibly a few of those in the audience which was bouncing along to each and every song.

I have to say that this was a very strong performance by the band and as usual Al Barrow plays to the crowd while Bob Catley casts his incantations over the crowd. If they didn’t feel thoroughly blessed by the end of the set there was something very wrong with them. Some very popular favourites made their way into the setlist including ‘How Far Jerusalem’ and ‘Kingdom of Madness’ from the earliest days of the band and the latter of those two songs also signalled the end of the show…well almost. The band, always up for giving more, did one more song, ‘When the World Comes Down’ from Vigilante.

You won’t be hearing any ‘divine’ lies from me when I say that this was a fantastic night of music. Vega got things going and Magnum tied everything together very nicely indeed. He may be temporary but Rick Benton was as big a star as anyone on the stage and his ability to learn the set so quickly is a testament to his musical ability. Everyone now waits for the news regarding Mark Stanway’s permanent replacement but while they do let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Magnum Setlist:

Soldier of the Line

On a Storyteller’s Night

Sacred Blood ‘Divine’ Lies

Freedon Day

Dance of the Black Tattoo

 Crazy Old Mothers

Blood Red Laughter

Your Dreams Won’t Die

How far Jerusalem

Unwritten Sacrifice

Twelve Men Wise and Just

Les Morts Dansant

All England’s Eyes


Kingdom of Madness


When the World Comes Down.

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