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Magnum @ The Robin, Bilston, Wolverhampton (30/11/11)

posted 18 Dec 2011, 12:10 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 19 Dec 2011, 05:06 ]

Review By Woody

Photo’s By Rob Stanley

It’s always nice when bands announce support bands that have you going yeahhhhhhh!!!! So when Mama’s Boys front man Pat McManus was announced to be supporting Magnum for their show at The Robin, I was a tad happy to say the least! As a big fan of the now defunct Mama’s Boys this was a rare opportunity to see Irishman McManus perform live and I obviously had my fingers crossed for some of his old band’s songs to get an airing.

Pat’s set did consist of mainly his solo work from recent years, which on one hand was quite disappointing as I was hoping for a set heavy on the Mama’s Boys. So thankfully this three piece band delivered a great set of bluesy rock n roll, which I really enjoyed even though the vast majority of the material was unknown to me. It’s no frills rock delivered with a great energy which definitely stirred the crowd, who were very noisy throughout the set. Definitely a few Mama’s Boy’s fans in the house which was obvious as he came onstage to loud cheers before a single chord had been played.

It was also nice to see Pat get a nice long set length and his unrushed set allowed him to banter and connect with the crowd, which he seemed genuinely pleased to see were loving his time onstage. I know Pat didn’t tick everyone’s boxes tonight and thought a few of the songs were too plodding or overdrawn. Personally I enjoyed the set and I know I wasn’t on my own!

Pat’s easy going nature came across really well as he made time to talk to the audience inbetween songs and he even played one song on a violin (or should that be fiddle?) showing he is multi talented. Although his music is blues infused you do hear some Irish folk come though in some of the songs, most notably on the song where he plays the violin!

Of the song’s I caught the title of was ‘Danger Zone’, ‘Diamond’, ‘Return of the G Man’, ‘Walking In The Shadows Of Giants’ and my highlight of the set the awesome ‘Juggernaut’! We got two Mama’s Boys tunes in the form of ‘Runaway Dreams’ & set closer ‘Needle In The Groove’ which was greeted by the loudest cheer of the night from an appreciative audience.

Earlier today Magnum had been added to the Black Country wall of fame at Wolverhampton Civic Hall, so tonight’s gig must have been rounding of an amazing day for all the Magnum guys. I never fail to catch Magnum live, they always deliver the goods and regardless of the ages of some of the band they still know how to rock and put on a show. Atmosphere’s at the average Magnum gig are beyond amazing at the best of times but tonight’s performance was surrounded by a sense of euphoria, maybe brought along by the band themselves who were obviously riding on the crest of a wave after today’s proceedings and the immense show of love showered upon them by the sell out crowd.

It was great seeing the band in the intimate surroundings of The Robin, which not only allowed the fans to get up close and personal with the band but also added to the wonderful atmosphere. There weren’t many dates on this mini tour in support of the recent Evolution album but it’s no surprise the guys chose to play a gig on home soil right here in the heart of the Black Country. The band have managed to build an army of loyal fans based on their extensive tours and consistently stunning live performances and the very vocal crowd here tonight who loved every minute of the bands time on stage are a testament to the bands hard work ethic – definitely one of the unsung heroes of British rock!

I thought the roof was going to be blown off as set opener ‘Back To Earth’ kicks in and the crowd go nuts and sing every line back at Bob, this song has an amazing impact and does one hell of a job of firing up a crowd especially with its infectious sing-along chorus! Long may it continue to be their choice of set opener! Vocalist Bob Catley as always does his thing and although he gets some stick for his flamboyant stage act, I just can’t help but love every one of his mannerisms willing him on to be even bigger and bolder with every arm sweep. A fabulous front man who also happens to have one of the greatest voice’s ever, and as I expected from Bob again he delivers flawlessly tonight!

Tony Clarkin has always allowed Bob to take the limelight on stage and has an understated stage presence and even so though the magnum faithful adore his every riff and solo, so faithfully recreated here for them now live. Mark Stanway’s key’s were nice and high in the mix tonight breathing life into some songs and in some cases giving just the right bit of mood. Al Barrow on bass is like the happiest man on the planet when he performs a smile never leaving his face as he rocks and bops to every beat and sings every word to every song, his amiable onstage presence sits well with the crowd especially when he nods and acknowledges people in the crowd. Rounding off the band is drummer Harry James who is one of the most well loved drummers in the UK!

We get lots of new songs from the bands recent Visitation album and they are all welcomed like Magnum classics by a buzzing crowd, never let it be said Magnum are a nostalgia act! We get ‘Wild Angels’, ‘Brand New Morning’, ‘Spin Like A Wheel’, ‘Bells Of Freedom’, ‘Les Morts Dansant’ which has one audience member demanding the band do again and ‘Black Skies’.

Set stalwart ‘When We Were Younger’ has become the bands anthem and with many of the bands fans making a connection to the song, although it is a pleasant sight to see people of all ages and images here tonight – the average rock/metal fan who doesn’t like Magnum and dismisses them as on old timers band would be shocked to see how many trendy youngsters their are amongst us old biddys!

Although having said that NO Magnum gig is complete without sweaty naked dancing man, this highly inebriated creature is always located near the front dead centre and dances all night spraying sweat over everyone and slurring along to every word and having one arm raised through out – Sweaty naked dancing man we salute you. The odd thing is it’s never the same guy!!!!!

‘How Far Jerusalem’ is met by an intense cheer and is a definite highlight of the bands performance as the crowd erupts during the chorus. Newbie ‘The Fall’ goes down extremely well so well in fact, Bob rounds the song off with a wry smile and states ‘we knew you’d like that one’. The band round off their set with a high energy trio of songs that get the crowd buzzing and extremely vocal, ‘All My Bridges’, ‘All England’s Eyes’ & ‘Vigilante’. Actually I’m pretty sure there would be a riot if danceathon ‘Vigilante’ was omitted from a Magnum set list, a fantastic live song which always hits the right notes with a crowd.

The band comes back for a two song strong encore the ever popular ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ and a stunning rendition of ‘On A Story Teller’s Night’. A great way to round of an amazing gig with one of the bands best songs which has a great sweeping melodic chorus that is a sing along gem leaving the crowd singing “Keep The Night Light Burning” and leaving a lasting impression as we all make our ways home!

Most the band may have been born in Brum but they are greeted here tonight in the Black Country like Hometown Heroes an area the band NEVER neglect and tonight’s crowd prove why! Another top notch performance from Magnum, you haven't experienced live music until you’ve seen Magnum! Here’s hoping the band keep on going for many years to come a year without a Magnum gig is a shite one indeed.