Magnum – “Live At The Symphony Hall” 2CD / 3LP (Steamhammer / SPV)
Following the release of their hugely successful “Lost On The Road To Eternity” album, which many including myself saw England’s most famous pomp rockers return full circle to their roots, Magnum embarked on a 42 date tour, culminating in a final show at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall last April. It was truly a special moment for vocalist Bob Catley and guitarist Tony Clarkin, not because they both live in the area and as such this was a hometown gig – but somewhat embarrassingly, Magnum had only played Birmingham once before during the course of 20 years. Along with recording the gig live, and with 2 newcomers in keyboardist Rick Benton and drummer Lee Morris, the pressure was now truly on. However, one should bear in mind that messrs Clarkin and Catley have been in the game since the 1970s, are consummate performers, and heavyweights at that! As such, “Live At The Symphony Hall” is not just impressive, but a truly magical release more than befitting as a follow up to “Escape From The Shadow Garden – Live 2014”. The fact is, it’s nothing of a perfect performance!!! Totalling 15 tracks of their best from past and present, it’s not just the technical perfection from this new line up, not just the crystal clear sound, not just the rapturous participation of the Birmingham faithful – but the undying passion of both band and fans in this band that exudes throughout this double album. When asked what the difference was between this and other live releases, Clarkin has simply stated that it’s the way the songs are played, with subtle variations and improvements to keep the material vibrant while not taking anything away from their original essence. I’d have to agree, given how long both he and Catley have performed these numbers, knowing them inside out, that’s certainly the case here, with none of the songs being same-o renditions from before, yet unmistakably identifiable. Equally, the set list here has been expertly put together and what is remarkable is just how well the latest songs like ‘Without Love’ and ‘Show Me Your Hands’ sit perfectly with ‘Vigilante’ and the 11 minute ‘Don’t Wake The Lion’. Still, when the likes of ‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘All England’s Eyes’ and ‘The Spirit’ resonate around Birmingham’s Symphony Hall with the crowd singing, nothing can prepare you and when Catley calls the finale with ‘When The World Comes Down’, and you can be sure you aren’t the only one with a tear in your eye….Unmissable.