Rock City Nottingham 17.05.16.
I’ve known of this band since I was a kid, but not necessarily for the music they produced, although I probably heard it being played. I better associated with this band through their album art work, as it use to be displayed on the walls within the music room. After a little research, I came across the name Rodney Matthews, who was the man responsible for producing no less than ten of Magnum’s 12” LP covers, including the album ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Matthews has also worked for many other famous artists, over the years, to produce their album artwork, some of which include, Diamond Heads album ‘Borrowed Time’, The Tygers of Pan-Tang album ‘Crazy Nights’, Nazareth’s album ‘No Mean City’ and Rick Wakeman’s album ‘Sun Rise’ to name but a few. With a career spanning over 40 years, the man is still producing album artwork, which is great to hear, the most recent of which is for Magnum’s 19th studio album ‘Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies’. You can now purchase this album here the artwork on this album is worth it alone!
Tonight, I had an old rocker accompanying me, as I felt it would be good to get the opinion of someone who remembers seeing Magnum, back in their heyday. I also though it would be interesting to see what he made of the younger band, VEGA, supporting Magnum on this run of UK dates, so here’s what Chris Brammer had to say about them.
‘Vega are currently showcasing their new album ‘Who Are We’ they play tight, competent rock, have a clean sound and a number of foot stomping tracks. They’re the sort of band that if you’ve spent a bad day at work their music will re-tune those mood strings. They don’t push any boundaries but do play the right chords, the right beat and the right melody. Their delivery is cool yet restrained. Their set was warmly appreciated by the assembled who were joining in by the closing number. ‘What happens in Vega, stays in Vega’ apparently. Maybe they should get out more!”
Personally, I thought they were one of those bands that would appeal to a mass audience, capable of playing anywhere as they are clean cut, precise, entertaining and non offensive. You know, the kind of band your grandma could enjoy! I don’t mean that to sound derogatory either, as I thought these guys were great, played to a packed audience and even managing to get the crowd suitably warmed up for the main act!
As for Magnum, I’m fully aware these guys have been around since the early 1970’s, so they’re getting on a bit! They’re a British band from Birmingham, so they have a massive and loyal following both in this country and around Europe. Their style of music didn’t reach popularity until the mid 80’s which can be considered as the golden age of prog rock. Albums such as ‘On a Storytellers Night’ produced by Roger Taylor (Queen) ‘Vigilante’ and ‘Wings of Heaven’ are considered the bands best albums before they split. After reforming the band produced an album called ‘Princess Alice & The Broken Arrow’, which saw the band enter into the UK’s top 75 albums, their first and highest chart entry for some 15 years!
As an ever present force, this band have toured the world extensively and are much loved by many fans all over the globe. With this in mind, I asked Chris what he thought of tonight’s performance?
“You know when you have food that’s just past its ‘use by’ date? You risk it, then wish you hadn’t? Unfortunately that’s Magnum. Sure, the set was flawless and the music rocks but the delivery doesn’t have that freshness, spontaneity or punch in it. Overall the sound was too full, the vocals submerged, lyrics lost. If you were a headbanger in the 80’s and die-hard fan it was probably a good gig. There were enough people there of that persuasion to make the gig a success. The casual listener would have been thinking of his slippers and cocoa before the end and hoping that uncomfortable feeling in the stomach would disappear soon.”
A fair an unbiased assessment there, that being said, Magnum do appeal to many of the older generation who still enjoy going out to a gig that isn’t full of 18 year olds, punching each other in the face through the act of windmilling or fly kicking each other in the head. Those days are gone for many in attendance tonight, who were here to simply watch their favourite ‘life long support’ band, Magnum!
We’ve been specifically asked not to share the bands set list, so as to not spoil it for others still yet to see the band play, so we wont be including any set spoilers in this review.
Review by Jay Hawkins/Chris Brammer.
Photographer Jay Hawkins at (JJ Photography UK).