MAGNUM – Marquee, London
WHEN JET Records finally saw fit to release Magnums ‘Chase The Dragon’ album they never believed for one minute that it would see the band take off in a way that everybody except them had realised was possible for years. And for a band of Magnum’s status still to be playing clubs like the Marquee is as much of a joke as Styx being able to sell Out Wembley Arena.
Anyway, despite the long-running Injustices that have plagued their career, things do at last appear to be going in their favour. Not only are the band now achieving their long deserved recognition at home but America also seems to have taken their high energy brand of pomp rock to its heart. In a way one gets the feeling that these two Marquee gigs could prove to be the band’s last appearances in a club situation before they set off on the stormy road to the top. Even their presentation looked more geared towards the full scale concert show this time and the big, almost orchestral arrangements often seemed in stark contrast to the sleazy surroundings.
In time honoured fashion it’s Tony Clarkin who masterminds the proceedings with his reserved manner and aggressive guitar work while Bob Catley, often underestimated as a singer, delivers his vocals sparingly, only using his power end range when necessary. But Magnums true strength lies in their ability to use keyboards in a rock’n’roll context and never simply as a cover up for lack of melody.
As usual, ‘Changes’ is the best number one single that never was. Its harpsichord intro and bouncing bass line very much in the vein of the Manfred Mann Earth Band singles of a few years ago.
All of this however, pales into insignificance compared to the important subject matter of ‘Soldier Of The Line’ from ‘Chase The Dragon’ which tells a tale of innocent soldiers of all races being sent out by the powers-that-be to kill one another for reasons they, or very few others, understand. Pawns in some sick bastard’s power game.
Funny really that a band on the threshold of success can put all their cards on the table while some so-called people’s bands hide under it, but unlike clichéd riffs and banal lyrics, guts aren’t two a penny.