7’Th of April 2014
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
British rock band Magnum finally returned to Finland for the first time in 25 years. The band released its 18’Th studio album ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN last month and started the “Shadow Garden” tour now from Helsinki. Although the sales numbers are quite different from the ’80s, the album has been a great success. Album reviews have been very positive all along the line, and it’s been charting highly across Europe, including the band’s highest rank in the UK album chart since 1992’s SLEEPWALKING. While it is true that times have changed a lot since 1989, the band still managed to attract more than 350 people, which is not all that bad on Monday night in Helsinki. It’s time to “Rockin’ Chair” again!
The show opened up with new album tracks “Live ‘till You Die” and “Falling for the Big Plan,” which featured all the Magnum trademarks, driving rhythms, sentimental vocals, and soaring melodies. The sound was crystal clear and powerful right from the start, and the band was really enjoyable to listen to. Especially Bob Catley’s vocals were just great. To be honest, the man now sounded even better than on the new album, which sounds a bit harsh at times. THE VISITATION track “Freedom Day” was the third song followed by “All The Dreamers” and “Blood Red Laughter,” both from excellent ON THE 13’TH DAY album. At this stage, many older fans were a bit confused. Where are all the classics? But they did not have to worry about it too long because next to the band played several tracks from ON A STORYTELLER’S NIGHT, including the show-stopping “How Far Jerusalem.” Another highlight was definitely “The Spirit” from the classic 1981 album CHASE THE DRAGON, which presented its early progressive side.
“Too Many Clowns” was the third piece played off from ESCAPE FROM THE SHADOW GARDEN. The song is really catchy, almost AC/DC’ish, and suitably different song to the rest of Magnum’s set. “Vigilante” represented the classic division again and sounded much heavier compared to the album version. As expected, “Kingdom of Madness” was the last song on the main set. After going off to thunderous applause, as you might have guessed, the band came back for the final encore, “Sacred Hour,” another gem from the classic CHASE THE DRAGON album.
It’s great that, unlike many of its contemporaries, Magnum does not live in the past. The band truly believes in the newer material, so the 15 song setlist was a great combination of old and new. The new album was present with four tracks and, like said before, especially “Too Many Clowns” was just great. It’s going to be a future Magnum live classic for sure. The band also played its most known songs from the early ’80s, but for a reason or another, their late 80’s –early 90’s albums WINGS OF HEAVEN and GOODNIGHT L.A. were totally ignored. Both albums were a big success in Finland/Scandinavia back in the day, and it would have been great to hear at least “Rockin’ Chair” or “Days of No Trust” today.
All in all, it can be said that Magnum was in strong shape in Helsinki, and they put on a magnificent show. Bob Catley was just great. He is a confident front-man and a great entertainer. Catley’s voice is still powerful and crystal clear, not missing a note all evening, nor shying away from even the highest peaks in the band’s large back catalog. The other founding member, guitarist Tony Clarkin, is a complete opposite to Catley on stage. He’s a very stylish but stoic figure who hardly communicates with the audience. But it really doesn’t matter as long as his playing is still splendid. Behind Catley, maybe the strongest piece of the band was sitting behind the drum kit. Harry James was nothing but brilliant tonight, a true powerhouse drummer, and he definitely added some extra kick needed for some older songs.
But yeah, hopefully, it won’t take another 20 years to get Magnum back there … 🙂
Live ’til You Die
Falling for the Big Plan
Dance of the Black Tattoo
Blood Red Laughter
How Far Jerusalem
Les Morts Dansant
All England’s Eyes
Too Many Clowns
All My Bridges
Kingdom of Madness