Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Gig review, etc: Magnum in Carlisle, 03 December 2011

After an extensive UK tour earlier in the year in support of The Visitation Magnum added a few extra dates at the end of the year for the sheer fun of it (and to reach a few places missed on said extensive tour).  This 4-date mini-tour also doubled as a wee bit of promo for the new best-of, Evolution*, the latest in a long line of Magnum compilations, but the first to focus solely on the 5 albums they’ve made since reforming a decade ago.

The 4th and final date was the very last to be added (quite late in the day it has to be said), and saw the band as the headline act at the grand opening of new rock venue The Sound in Carlisle. It was also, thankfully, one I managed to make a trip up North for, and capped what has been an excellent year to be a Magnum fan!

Not only did the band not play Carlisle earlier in the year – this was their first gig in Cumbria in over two decades, and the response demonstrated that they’ve been missed. There were quite a few Visitation t-shirts on show in the audience, which suggests many had travelled elsewhere to see them in the Spring, but that is no surprise; they are a band that sparks that level of devotion in their fans (and you thought it was just me…!)

Magnum's Bob Catley

The setlist was largely identical to that presented earlier in the year (at the Liverpool gig, for example), but that was entirely acceptable – after all, the majority of the crowd were hearing it for the first time and, more importantly, it’s a cracker of a set! Of course quite a number of the newer songs (Brand New Morning, Wild Angels, All My Bridges and the utterly sublime When We Were Younger) are amongst those featured on the new album and we were also treated to The Fall, one of Evolution’s two brand new tracks, which features the catchiest guitar riff heard in recent memory (in fact it’s possibly too catchy, it sticks in the head so much there isn’t room to remember any other part of the song!). As ever at a Magnum gig each number was followed by loud and long applause, but yes, it was old favourites such as Les Mort Dansant and Vigilante that really raised the roof. The former makes me teary at the best of times, and was more poignant than ever on a day where I’d learnt that a battalion from Carlisle had the misfortune to land at Gallipoli on 25 April, 1915, along with many soon to be slaughtered Kiwis. 

The Gallipoli barracks at Carlisle Castle

Overall though it was a night of cheer and triumph, and even Tony Clarkin was caught smiling on a few occasions (only between songs, of course, but still a rare occurrence!). It's tempting to say that the band were in particularly fine form, but really they were just being Magnum and doing what they do best on any night. I hope to catch them on many more! (10/10).
Sorry ladies...didn't get a shot of Mark, so Al will have to do! :p

* Yeah, I know I'm a bad bad blogger and negelected to review Evolution upon release last month, but in summary, it's neat. With two tracks from each of the 5 SPV albums (most of which have had parts re-recorded - hearing real drums on the Breath of Life tracks is a treat for starters!) plus the two new songs mentioned above it provides a great snapshot of this era-in-progress and is an ideal starting or re-entry point for those unfortunate enough not to be right up to date with what the band's been up to for the past ten years. The re-recorded aspects and song selection also make it feel like a cohesive work rather than a hastily thrown-together cash-in album. If you only buy one Magnum release from 2011 (but why would you?) get The Visitation, but this is well worth your time, no matter what level of Magnum awareness you currently possess. (9/10)