MAGNUM – Live At The Symphony Hall (2019)

MAGNUM - Live At The Symphony Hall (2019) full

Last year legends MAGNUM presented their 20th studio album, “Lost on the Road to Eternity”. Coming forty years after the release of their debut album it was a great CD that demonstrated that they’re still making great music and got the fire. The release of the album was followed by a two month tour which concluded with a show on 19th April 2018 at Symphony Hall in Birmingham. The event was recorded and is now being released tomorrow as “Magnum : Live At The Symphony Hall”

The setlist of the show (and now track listing for the album) included four songs from the last CD alongside other tunes from their career. However, the band aren’t just playing a slightly tweaked versions of the set from their previous tours – Magnum are a band that do like to vary things, so for example “On a storytellers Night” doesn’t get an airing this time despite being a fan favorite.
Magnum have enough material to vary the setlist a fair amount and still keep the fans happy. They also vary how they play the songs too to keep things interesting.

With Lee Morris and Rick Benton now firmly embedded we’ve noted before the band have been given another new breath of life. This rejuvenation is also evident in the rendering of the time-worn core setlist. Benton has gone to some lengths to replicate (and in some cases enhance) the original keyboard textures (‘Don’t Wake The Lion’ in particular sounds fresher than ever, and now with a Celtic infusion).

I always felt that with Mark Stanway in the band, the keyboards were too low in the mix. Part of the reboot is that Benton is allowed more scope. Tonally, Tony Clarkin has never been a particularly convincing soloist and now, more than ever, needs a proper counterpoint. This is evident on ‘How Far Jerusalem’.

That other old mainstay ‘All England’s Eyes’ coupled with ‘Vigilante’ reinforces all that is good about Magnum and recalls past glories and fan favorites. If Bob and Tony will understandably never recapture the sheer exuberance of 1991′s live outing ‘The Spirit’ Lee and Rick will certainly keep them on their toes for the foreseeable future.
Every music lover knows that the closing concert of a long tour is always a very special event.
Harsh words have sometimes been said about Catley’s ageing vocal style – especially in the live context – but here he’s on a roll with Al Barrow always supportive on backing vocals and bass.

A real highlight is the guest appearance of Tobias Sammet (Avantasia, Edguy) who reprises his duet with Catley on ‘Lost On The Road To Eternity’ and reappears for the finale, another excellent version of ‘When The World Comes Down’.
Rebecca Downes (from whose band Benton was “stolen”) adds vocals to ‘Without Love’ together with another Birmingham based “veteran” Lee Small (Shy / Phenomena).

Magnum are never a band to stand still – Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin will always see to that. We’ve said before that they always seem to shun significant anniversaries. Other bands (via management and labels) make sure we know about them, via album recycling and live shows.
This year marked the 40th anniversary of Magnum’s debut album (the title song ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ the only connection in this set) and don’t let’s forget Wings Of Heaven: thirty years young and recalled on ‘Don’t Wake The Lion’.

Let us celebrate, then, a band who – forty years on – can still deliver.
Perhaps Sammet gets it right when he hollers enthusiastically “Magnum – the greatest band in the world”. I don’t know, but one of the most talented for sure.
Highly Recommended

CD 1:
1 – When We Were Younger (Live)
2 – Sacred Blood ‘divine’ Lies (Live)
3 – Lost On The Road To Eternity (Live)
4 – Crazy Old Mothers (Live)
5 – Without Love (Live)
6 – Your Dreams Won’t Die (Live)
7 – Peaches And Cream (Live)
8 – How Far Jerusalem (Live)

CD 2:
01 – Les Morts Dansant (Live)
02 – Show Me Your Hands (Live)
03 – All England’s Eyes (Live)
04 – Vigilante (Live)
05 – Don’t Wake The Lion (Too Old To Die Young) (Live)
06 – The Spirit (Live)
07 – When The World Comes Down (Live)

Bob Catley – vocals
Tony Clarkin – lead guitar, vocals
Al Barrow – bass guitar, backing vocals
Rick Benton – keyboards
Lee Morris – drums
guest vocals;
Tobias Sammet
Rebecca Downes
Lee Small


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