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Islington Assembly Hall, London
Friday 13th May 2016

Liz Medhurst: Photos by Noel Buckley

liz medhurst


"The Spirit that guides you, follow it through
To the spirit inside you always be true"

These words from 'The Spirit' and heard in tonight's encore sum up perfectly Magnum's success, longevity and ability to hold an audience spellbound.

Their live show isn't always consistently brilliant, but no surprise there; I don't know of a single band that judges performance and setlist perfectly every time. However tonight at Islington can definitely be filed under magnificent, with the overall atmosphere and essence lifting the experience to way more than the sum of its parts.

From a strong start with 'Soldier Of The Line' the quality did not dip at all; this was one classy set with material taken from across the band's illustrious career. The new album 'Sacred Blood 'Divine' Lies' sees the return to a harder edge and is packed full of trademark melodic anthems perfectly in keeping with the rest of the catalogue, and we were treated to four tracks from it tonight.

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There were so many highlights in the set it would be futile to go through them all, but this gig showed that Tony Clarkin is a songwriting genius, and the band's output is astonishingly good, with all eras blending together to produce an array of ambitious numbers, power ballads, fantasy themes, stirring harmonies, out and out rockers and flowing heaviness – as good a collection as you will find anywhere.

Vocalist Bob Catley led us through proceedings, rocking the double denim all in white, with his shoulder length silver hair and tinted glasses giving the appearance of a bohemian, wise spirit guide.


It's so good to hear a prominent piano at rock gigs and Mark Stanway's fluid melodies were a treat, such as in the quieter moments of 'Freedom Day' from 2011s 'The Visitation' leading into the strong riffs of 'Dance Of The Black Tattoo' which was breathtakingly good.

The blend of the keyboards with Clarkin's guitar was spot on as thankfully the temptation to throw everything but the kitchen sink into the arrangements was resisted – everyone had the space to shine while the soundscape remained immense.


Drummer Harry James and bass player Al Barrow gave the songs just the right amount of heft – by which I mean I lot was required, and a lot was provided – exquisitely satisfying.

The songs chosen for tonight's set were more than good enough to hold attention without the need for elaborate staging or light show - merely a series of different coloured backdrops was all that was needed.


New song 'Your Dreams Won't Die' was an emotional ballad with captivating lyrics and very very striking. This ought to be a Eurovision winner - I'm not being sarcastic here, I bloody love Eurovision, especially since it gained a taste for peppering Symphonic Metal among the cheesy offerings, and I couldn't care less which country wins it, I just enjoy the spectacle. Anyway I digress – there was more than enough splendour right here in Islington, and more concise and enjoyable.

With more seguing of old and new, ‘All England's Eyes' was bookended with 'Princess In Rags (The Cult)', verifying once more that this setlist was among the most coherent I have seen from the band.


With 'Vigilante' ending the main set, it would have been pretty damn satisfying if the show had finished there – but there was more to come. For the encore, the band returned, sat on the keyboard and drum risers and started the cascading acoustic introduction before Catley, now changed into a blue denim jacket, simply but powerfully sang through the lyrics to the aforementioned 'The Spirit'. With a mass sing-along happening on the floor the atmosphere was nothing short of magical.

And of course finishing with the classic 'Kingdom Of Madness' – a title that could be a representation for the waking reality that we had to shortly return to - we were brought back down to earth with a sense of euphoria. As I headed off back into the night with a smile that little bit brighter, Magnum had done everything they needed to do in the previous couple of hours – not a single complaint from me.


Soldier Of The Line
On A Storyteller's Night
Sacred Blood 'Divine' Lies
Freedom Day
Dance Of The Black Tattoo
Crazy Old Mothers
Blood Red Laughter
Your Dreams Won't Die
How Far Jerusalem
Unwritten Sacrifice
Twelve Men Wise And Just
Les Morts Dansant
All England's Eyes
Princess In Rags (The Cult)

The Spirit
Kingdom Of Madness





Wacken Winter Nights 2018 takes place between February 23rd and 25th 2018 and the great news is that you can now experience a full-on, top class German Metal Festival easily and affordably.

It only takes an hour to fly to Hamburg from London and we've had longer journeys than that within the capital and they were certainly more expensive than the £33 air ticket that just appeared in our 'flights to Wacken Winter Nights' search.


Wacken Winter Nights is organised by the same team who are responsible for the world's greatest Metal festival, Wacken-Open-Air and the 2018 bill includes Skyclad, Orphaned Land, Elvenking, Finntroll, Grave Digger, Aeverium, Comes Vagantes, Coppelius, Corvus Corax, Die Pressgëng, Elvellon, Heimataerde, Hell-O-Matic, Ignis Fatuu, Ingrimm, Irdorath, Johnny Deathshadow, Krayenzeit, Letzte Instanz, Mr Hurley und die Pulveraffen, Pampatut, Pat Razket, Schandmaul, Sündenrausch, The Aberlour's, The Moon And The Nightspirit, Torfrock, Visions Of Atlantis, Vroudenspil, Wind Rose and more.

Besides this rich billing of superb Metal bands, there is so much more to see in the festival area including the medieval market and also the walking acts and jugglers you will meet at the theme worlds, including Robert Blake, three-time World Cup winner of street magic.

Wacken Winter Nights is something not to be missed and you can check out the amazing ticket and accommodation prices right here.

We just priced up the whole four day trip with hotels, flights, shuttles and festival tickets for less than £300 and we don't think you will get a better value festival than that, anywhere.


MetalTalk recently sat down with Wacken founder and owner Thomas Jensen and that interview will be online next week and it's a fascinating insight into how Wacken originated from nothing to become the world's premiere Heavy Metal event.


Wacken 2018 takes place from 2nd to 4th August 20218 and as with Wacken Winter Nights, if you have never experienced all it has to offer, then you owe it to yourself to remedy that.

Already announced for Wacken 2018 are Judas Priest, Nightwish, Running Wild (exclusive), Arch Enemy, Dirkschneider, Doro (Special Anniversary Show), In Extremo, Sepultura, Amorphis, Amaranthe, Firewind, W.A.R., Belphegor, Mantar, Knorkator, Deserted Fear, Watain, Night Demon, Epica, Knorkator, Belphegor, Firewind, Deserted Fear and many more and we'll have more Wacken 2018 announcements during December.

As well as being the greatest Heavy Metal festival in the world, it is without a doubt the Mecca of Metal and the one thing that every single person who loves our music should have on their bucket list.

For 2018, MetalTalk have joined forces with Wacken-Open-Air to help you get to Wacken easily and inexpensively and you can peruse the ticket and travel options right here.

If you are interested in going to Wacken 2018 and have questions, please fill out the form below and we will contact you with answers to all your enquiries. You are under no obligation whatsoever by filling this form out. We won't add you to any mailing lists or send you loads of spam - all we will do is help you get to Wacken as easily and inexpensively as possible.



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