The Tramshed on a cold February night as the queues lengthen and the anticipation rose for MAGNUM back in town tonight as part of the Lost on the Road to Eternity tour. The chatter was about how many tracks from the superb new album, and what favourites from the past would be on the setlist. For the majority waiting, Rebecca Downes was the unknown. For Bluesdoodles who has followed her career we knew they were going to be in for a vocal treat and no-one would be left disappointed by the support tonight.
The band stepped on to the stage and then the blond dynamo that is Rebecca Downes opened her lungs and got the musical journey underway. The band were on top form tonight surrounding Rebecca’s vocals that are sultry, bluesy, rocky shaping the song. Rebecca’s vocals that change with colour and tone can be defined as stunning. Rebecca fronts the band she is the consummate show woman. Opening with Never Gonna Learn, that may be true in a song. The reality is Rebecca and the band keep on developing building on experiences of playing songs live from her albums Be Live and Believe. The set was too short but perfectly formed. A lively opening to the evening, as ever very professional. Rebecca’s stage presence has changed the constants are her voice and the touch of leopard skin, now found on the guitar that adds a layer of rhythm to the sound, adding to Steve Birkett’s guitar playing. Birkett’s guitar is crisp with a mix of the slide, blues and harder edge rock. Night Train was a highlight and Sailing on a Pool of Tears is always a musically emotive charged journey. Then the hint of the music to come on her anticipated album with a new number If I Go To Sleep, with its intriguing sonic opening and heavier sound this is Downes and her band stretching the musical style with accomplished maturity. Rebecca will always charm the audience with her warm smile and charismatic chat. The fans bathed in her vocals as she complimented the MAGNUM fans for turning up to hear her play. As she succinctly said, “Magnum fans really know their music”. Closing the set giving the audience opportunity to give voice a Joplinesque cover of With A Little Help From My Friends. Tonight got off to a flying musical start with the huge talent that is Rebecca Downes. An opening set has heated up the venue and has built up everyone’s expectations for the headline act to follow.
The atmosphere rose a notch or two in the anticipation of the entrance of tonight’s progressive star turn MAGNUM. With their excellent latest album Lost On The Road to Eternity adding to the thrill and expectation. With a new line-up since the band’s last visit to the Tramshed May 2016. Joining original members Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin plus long-term bassist Al Barrow are Rick Benton on keys who with a synergy was Rebecca Downes’ keyboardist and Lee Morris on his spectacular drum kit.
Opening with Why We Were Younger taking us back to the 2007 album Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow our evening of MAGNUM immersion therapy begins. The band tonight hit the ground running as with Rebecca’s set the sound was superb. MAGNUM was on fire tonight, great sound, great mix of numbers and entertaining the fans with every note and dramatic swirls from Bob. The tour name may have coincided with the album, but the set-list was not a sales drive from the album. The four carefully selected tracks, the title track, Peaches and Cream, Without Love and Show Me Your Hands gave the perfect taster. The four tracks were probably even better live than on the album they were superb.
We danced and cheered and sung along as old numbers were re-imagined and enjoyed. New numbers including from 2016 album Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies”, Crazy Old Mothers morphed into Without Love from the current magus opus from the Prog Rockers we love to hear played live and up close.
With every number the excitement rose, the heat in the room increased as the Tramshed was lit up by music that compels you to listen. The fans loved to hear How Far is Jerusalem and join in on the chorus. What a number that remains ringing tunefully in your ears long after the venue falls silent. When Bob sang Show Me Your Hands, the Cardiff crowd did just that with hands held aloft in unison. The crowd were very animated and bouncing with every note from keys through to guitar. Mesmerised by the drumming and feeling the bass groove. MAGNUM with Bob conducting the atmosphere feeding out of their hands. The stagecraft, interaction with the audience was a masterclass for any aspiring rock band/performer. The MAGNUM hits just kept pouring through the speakers we were already to be part of MAGNUM’s Vigilante force.
All too soon the stage fell silent. Not for long MAGNUM were back for the obligatory encore and ten more minutes of MAGNUM joy. Starting with The Spirit and rock spirit was strong tonight as we Chase The Dragon in Cardiff. Closing the night with When The World Comes Down tonight we were on a high as we stepped back to Vigilante album from 1986. This was an anthemic classic which they don’t always play live. A fantastic top quality gig full of progressive rock enjoyment and fun.
What a night of live music on fire the audience purred with delight a set list full of old favourites forgotten gems and new songs to hear live for the first time. Result! Tonight On A Storyteller’s Night fell silent replaced by a new live favourite Peaches and Cream. We all say come back to Cardiff really soon Rebecca and her band and MAGNUM you will always be welcomed.
SetList – MAGNUM
When We Were Younger
Sacred Blood “Divine” Lies
Lost on the Road to Eternity
Crazy Old Mothers
Your Dreams Won’t Die
Peaches and Cream
How Far Jerusalem
Les Morts Dansant
Show Me Your Hands
Twelve Men Wise and Just
All England’s Eyes
Don’t Wake the Lion (Too Old to Die Young)
When The World Comes Down