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Magnum @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton (25/7/13)

posted 2 Aug 2013, 12:27 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 3 Aug 2013, 14:39 ]

Review By Woody

I learnt something important from this show, I was picking up from various posts and comments on social media sites that ticket sales for tonight were not as good as hoped with the summer holidays and festival season in full swing probably playing a part in it. Well the lesson is NEVER believing everything you read on the internet because the Robin was packed to capacity!

Local guitarist Simon Lee’s was tonight’s support with his one man rock show. I’ve never seen him before but I had heard very good things and was anticipating his set a lot. I have to say I was a little confused by that adoration, while it’s obvious Lee is a guitar wiz I found his songs a little one dimensional and unimpressive. On paper his brand of Melodic hard rock should really tickle my eardrums but outside of his one song ‘Company’ I was a little bored.

I know he does a lot of one man shows which consist heavily of cover songs and he wisely stuck to his original music tonight, but whilst he is a battle hardened live musician his songs just had no soul. I’ve never been a fan of guitar widdlers like Vai and Satriani so the fact that he played a lot of instrumentals tonight didn’t really warm me to his set. I know he is well loved and a popular attraction on the pub circuit at the moment but tonight he just didn’t show me why.

The reason for Magnum’s appearance at The Robin tonight was as a warm up for a few festival dates they have lined up for the summer. So I duly believed tonight’s set would be a greatest hits set but that’s not we got! These guys have always been adamant they will never become a nostalgia act and will always play material spanning their entire back catalogue, and we are treated to a set that reflects that tonight.

I did find opener ‘All The Dreamers’ from their latest album On The 13th Day a bit of an odd choice to open with and it really had no impact and the show started off really slowly. It took a few songs for the band to really kick it into gear and show us the REAL Magnum. Well this was a warm up after all and second song the popular set regular ‘When We Were Younger’ saw the band going through the motions before it all really kicked off with the awesome ‘Blood Red Laughter’. From here on in it was the full on Magnum experience that we have all come to love and why we repeatedly attend the shows!

Bob Catley was a little quieter than usual but he engaged the crowd and worked the stage as only he can, with his hands frequently showing us new never seen before shapes! Tony Clarkin was particularly strong tonight, the excellent sound at the robin providing the perfect environment for him to show off his wonderful guitar riffs. He is an understated performer but there is absolutely nothing understated about his guitar riffs as he flawlessly delivers them to us tonight. Bassist Al Barrow always adds a bit of colour to a Magnum performance as a very mobile player who rocks out to every note and always engages with the crowd with a smile never far from his face. It was great to see Keyboardist Mark Stanway on a platform riser so he isn’t tucked away in the darkness in the back and quite rightly gets to show off his keyboard skills on many occasions, I’ve always loved his pomp fuelled Keyboards!

I know many fans bemoan the Magnum set list for been to familiar, wishing they would spice up their sets more. I’ve never felt that I’ve always found the set lists quite varied and usually very supportive of the latest album. Tonight’s no different and amongst the eclectic set is ‘Brand New Morning’, ‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘All My Bridges’, ‘Les Morts Dansant’ and a rare performance of ‘The Flood’ from the Sleepwalking album. Magnum have such a huge collection of songs it’s always going to be hard to revisit many of them live but I think the band do try and keep every tour’s set list fresh while still keeping the gig regular’s happy!

Bob dedicates ‘The Spirit’ to Ray Trapnell a well known fan of the band who recently passed away. He was well known to the band members as ‘The Torso’ because Ray was always stood out in a Magnum crowd bouncing high and singing loud bare chested in the middle of the crowd. If you’ve ever been to a Magnum gig you have seen him, I even referred to him as ‘Naked Sweaty Man’ in a previous review to which I received an email form to Ray about my review and telling me he was ‘Naked Sweaty Man’. R.I.P Ray.

You just can’t go to a Magnum show and not have a fantastic night, great performers with a rich history of songs which light up any live stage. The one thing that always sets them above others live is their fans that embrace the band like gods and create amazing atmosphere’s as they dance and scream along. From young teenagers to heavy metal granddad’s every Magnum fan is enthralled and happily raising the roof to every note and song. The atmosphere builds and intensifies as we approach the close of the set with the whole venue erupting along to ‘All England’s Eyes’, danceathon ‘Vigilante’, ‘Kingdom of Madness’, ‘Rockin’ Chair’ and ‘Days Of No Trust’.

It was yet another awesome show from one of the Midlands finest bands with still more to come next year. The new album Escape From The Shadow Garden is due early next year with a full UK tour to support it and inevitably a show in Wolvo, so 2014 is shaping up to be Magnum-tastic!

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