||SOLDIER DOWN, BUT MAGNUM BATTLE ON AND REIGN SUPREME IN DUBLIN
Magnum/The Pat McManus Band
Voodoo Lounge, Dublin, 9th December 2016
Words: Brian Boyle, Pictures: Dan Butler
Just when you think rock'n'roll is becoming boring and predictable, BANG, it gives you a big size twelve in the tushy.
Known as one of the most respected ivory ticklers in rock, Mark Stanway threw a massive spanner in the works by announcing his departure from Magnum on the morning of the bands first Dublin show in twenty-four years. So the luck of the Irish most definitely didn't rub off on the band.
But the show must go on, and went on it did. With the drafting in of Don Airey or Rick Wakeman at the eleventh hour not an option, it was left up to a well-prepared backing track to fill the humongous void. But tonight was about Magnum and Magnum only.
Many may laugh up their sleeves when I say that to a lot of punters in the Voodoo Lounge tonight, this was one of the most anticipated gigs of the year. Why you may ask? Well as I said earlier, it's been over almost a quarter of a century since Magnum last graced a Dublin stage, and that night the attendance brought new meaning to the word paltry. So you would be forgiven for thinking they might not bother their rear ends returning.
Having, The Pat McManus Band as your opening act was a good move, and a bloody brave one too. With legends like Phil Lynott, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore all departed to the great gig in the sky, Irish rock Gods are thin on the ground, but the Co Fermanagh man more than meets the criteria, as he is worshipped the length and breath of Ireland by a seriously hardcore following. And when he unloaded his Gibson and tore into bruising opener 'Smoke And Whisky', you know why he's known as The Professor.
The entire forty-five minute set was an out and out master class in professionalism and showmanship as he delivered an addictive mix of blues and no frills rock. And for a brief second, you would be forgiven if you thought the former Mamas Boys axeman was the main act, as the front of the stage was awash with Pat McManus t-shirts. The Olympics inspired 'The Bolt' sent tremors through the venue with enough finger tapping to give Eddie Van Halen an assquake. Closer, 'Needle In The Grove', just rubberstamped a fine performance by a well-loved musician. But let's face it, this man could have sat there doing the Irish Times crossword and would have still sent the place wild.
As there's no side stage in the venue, Magnum had to walk through the crowd like pumped up heavyweights. With their faithful robustly chanting their name as if making a point, any nerves felt within the temporary four piece were, by now, completely wiped out. Opener, 'Soldier Of The Line' was belted out as they took everything in their stride.
Straight after, the big elephant in the room was addressed with class and dignity: "Mark has chosen to walk a different path, and we wish him well," were Bob Catley's words. Both band and audience showed their appreciation to the man who gave thirty-six years loyal service and that was it, job done, heavy sighs all round and for ninety minutes, the issue was put to sleep.
The crowd didn't have to wait long for a gemand 'On A Storyteller’s Night', with its shiny new backing track, got the place jumping. A landmark song for the band, it still packs a formidable punch in the live arena.
The latest album, 'Sacred Blood "Divine" Lies' may have been fresh on a few people's ears tonight, but the majority sang the title track and the stomping 'Crazy Old Mothers' word for word, as if they were seasoned classics and the heart-warming ballad, 'Your Dreams Won't Die' brought the mood in the crowd to a joyous level.
Strangers swayed together, and an Irishman helped two travelling fans hold aloft an autographed Saint George's Cross, not a sight you see in Dublin very often, I can assure you but that's the effect that this band's music has on their fans. Their Colonel, Tony Clarkin. has composed some enduring anthems over the years and while they haven't been given the proper worldwide kudos that they deserve, amongst the Magnum disciples tonight, they're like prized possessions.
One by one the big guns were coming out, 'Dance Of The Black Tattoo', 'How Far Jerusalem' and a show stopping 'Les Morts Dansant' had the place in melodic rock paradise and just for good measure, another precious jewel in 'Vigilante' had many fists raised and several pints spilled.
As with the set up in the venue, there's no leaving the stage and returning in glory for an encore so they ploughed on and awarded an amazing audience with a one two of 'Kingdom Of Madness' and the always moving 'When The World Comes Down'. Understandably, there were a few glum faces around before Magnum took to the stage, but they left with wide-eyed grins.
Although temporarily down a man, Magnum are still fully loaded, and they opened fire tonight with their melodic majesty.
Soldier Of The Line
On A Storyteller's Night
Sacred Blood "Divine" Lies
Dance Of The Black Tattoo
Crazy Old Mothers
Blood Red Laughter
Your Dreams Won't Die
How Far Jerusalem
Twelve Men Wise And Just
Les Morts Dansant
All England's Eyes
Kingdom Of Madness
When The World Comes Down