At this time of year, I usually make a drunken fool of myself at the Hard Rock Hell Festival over the border in the coldest depths of Wales. However, I opted not to go this year because Magnum were playing on my home soil at the Islington Academy, a gig I did not want to miss. Especially as, in my opinion, Magnum were the best band at last year’s Hard Rock Hell extravaganza.
Magnum – Trillium
Islington Academy, London – 29 November 2012
Words: Mark Taylor
Since Magnum reformed in 2001 after a hiatus of six years, the pomp rockers from Birmingham have been making some of the best music in their (almost) forty-year career. On The Thirteenth Day is their seventeenth album and right up there as some of their finest work.
Magnum have seen it all. Living through all the various rock fads that have come and gone, they still hold strong with their unique blend of melodic rock with a very British feel. Magnum have – quite rightly – enough confidence in their more recent material that the first part of their set consisted of tracks purely from this period, including the storming opener All The Dreamers from their latest album. Blood Red Laughter is another well-received new track, whilst Brand New Morning from the album of the same name is now reaching classic status.
Bob Catleys voice was a little under the weather as he was suffering from a cold, but he was still in fine fettle. Guitarist Tony Clarkin is a man who gives little away but surely must have been full of pride by the crowd’s adoring reaction. They are right there behind the band from the very first song.
As an underrated drummer, Harry James is one of the country’s best, providing a solid backbone. Mark Stanway was having the time of his life on the keys whilst new boy, bassist Al Barrow, slotted into Magnum with ease.
An extended How Far Jerusalem was magnificent, whilst The Flood from 1992s overlooked Sleepwalking album makes a welcomed return. The acoustic The Spirit is a timeless gem, whilst Vigilante and Kingdom Of Madness see Magnum at their very best, the perfect cue for Catley to make his trademark hand-expressing gestures.
Surprisingly the Russ Ballard penned track Rockin’ Chair was back in the set for the encore, and why not when you have the lyric, I don’t need no rocking chair, because Magnum certainly don’t. The pipe and slippers can stay on hold for a long time yet.
Days Of No Trust brought to a close a glorious night from one of rocks most understated bands.
For the UK leg of Magnums tour, the support came from Trillium. Led by Amanda Sommerville, a striking young lass from Michigan who has made a name for herself on the euro-goth Metal scene providing backing vocals for bands such as Epica, Kamelot and Avantasia.
With her band Trillium, the four-piece made many new fans as they cleanly cut their way through a set filled with crunchy melodies and the operatic tones of Sommerville, who looked stunning with her long blonde mane. The vocalist had a friendly, approachable manner with the crowd down the front, standing out from other bands of this genre by simply enjoying the music. Undeniably a band to look out for.