At The Carling Academy, Newcastle, U.K., May 9, 2008

Late last year, Magnum played a few select shows to commemorate the forthcoming 20th Anniversary of their monumental Wings Of Heaven opus. Such was the success of these shows that a double live album was duly released earlier this year to coincide with this anniversary and a more extensive series of dates booked to take the celebrated performance out on the road to a wider audience.

Magnum’s fortunes have risen, fallen, and risen again on numerous occasions over the years but few could argue that Wings of Heaven proved to be one of their highest creative and commercial peaks. Achieving a Top 5 position in the UK album charts and gaining them a Gold Record in the process along with 3 Top 40 hit singles and several appearances on the UK’s flagship Top Of The Pops TV program combined to guarantee that the ensuing tour was a complete sell out, including appearances at the prestigious Wembley Arena and a triumphant homecoming show at the huge NEC Arena in Birmingham. Magnum, after years of toil and effort and some damn fine albums created along the way, had finally achieved the level of success that their talents so richly deserved.

magnum 20 years have incredibly passed since those heady days and Magnum have split up and reformed again since then and with their most recent album Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow are heading in an upward trajectory. Before moving on and working on their forthcoming new album, Magnum hit the road to celebrate their landmark release.

Like their shows last year, the set was split into two parts with the opening section featuring choice cuts from their lengthy, high quality back catalog with the second being devoted to Wings Of Heaven.

“Back To Earth” from their double pack 7” single release from the Chase The Dragon era saw Magnum off to a lively start and from then on, the show’s intensity never wavered.

magnum Bringing things back up to date were “When We Were Younger” and “You’ll Never Sleep” from their latest release. What was a great surprise was the inclusion of a rampant “We All Need To Be Loved” — a much-missed gem from the excellent Rock Art album and hopefully this will remain in the set for some time to come.

Another welcome return was “Midnight” from the Vigilante album, which saw Bob Catley arms aloft rather like a symphony conductor, willing the crowd to sing along with him, to which they duly obliged.

The evergreen “Vigilante” stomped along with a vibrant energy as Mark Stanway’s keyboards stabbed along to Tony Clarkin’s thumping riff as the ever-energetic Catley danced and weaved across the stage.

magnum Rounding off the first section was a simply beautiful rendition of “The Spirit” with its haunting melody and sensitive lyrics. Catley really shone brightly here, confirming his status as one of Rock’s finest vocalists, and when the band rejoined Catley and Clarkin for the finale, it really was goose bumps time.

Without further ado, it was time for the evening’s main presentation, Wings Of Heaven from start to finish, and this was what everyone was eagerly waiting for.

It’s easy to see why this album hits the spot in every way. Whether it’s the up-tempo Rocker of opener “Days Of No Trust;” the Pop leanings of “Start Talkin’ Love;” the tender ballad of “It Must Have Been Love;” or the driving Pomp of “Pray For The Day,” complete with Catley’s pre-song sing-a-long; there is simply something for everyone on this album.

magnum Yet that’s not all, perhaps two of Magnum’s finest moments were captured on this album, “Wild Swan” a brooding epic of a song on which Catley excelled and Magnum’s piece de resistance, “Don’t Wake The Lion.” An epic to end all epics, a real monster of a song from its slow-burning opening right through to its supercharged finale. If one song can encapsulate all of Magnum’s finest qualities, then this must be it. The performance by the whole band, including bass player Al Barrow and the crazy Harry James filling in on drums on the few days he has off this year; was inspiring. The after show buzz of the crowd centred on this monumental performance.

Bringing matters to a close were “All England’s Eyes” and the classic “Kingdom Of Madness,” which ensured the momentum continued until the final note drifted into the Newcastle air.

magnum As one of the UK’s hardest working and most endearing bands, Magnum simply thrive on stage. Tonight’s show with its complete rendition of Wings Of Heaven sent the crowd home on a real high. Now, if only they would release one of these shows on DVD to accompany the excellent Live album then that would be perfect, failing that, how about reissuing the superb performance from the On The Wings Of Heaven video from 1988 on DVD?

Magnum?? Simply can’t get enough of them!!


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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