Sunday, February 25, 2024

Magnum – Live at the Symphony Hall

British stalwarts Magnum have thrilled and enchanted their audiences for decades now by means of majestic, melodic, and wonderfully evocative hard rock, and this latest live offering of theirs simply titled Live at the Symphony Hall was captured in all its raw glory in Birmingham at the end of the band’s Road to Eternity touring spell in 2018.

Boasting a strong and muscular yet suitably crisp and clear sound, the set list includes a great selection of tracks both old and new, which means that you get some highly spirited and vibrant versions of old cuts and classics such as ‘Vigilante‘ and ‘All England’s Eyes‘, but the truly awesome thing about this double disc release is that it perfectly illustrates just how fantastic the 2018 opus Lost on the Road to Eternity is and how well the tunes from that particular album come across in a live setting. That especially goes for the powerful renditions of ‘Without Love‘ and the anthemic ‘Peaches and Cream‘ – two of the highlights on the disc. As is to be expected, the musicianship is top notch and absolutely stellar, and it certainly sounds as if the Barrow/Benton/Catley/Clarkin/Morris constellation is rich on both talent and energy. Each member of the ensemble is sufficiently prominent and audible in the mix so that none of the songs’ many nuances and subtle details are buried or undermined.

The utterly memorable and groovy ‘Crazy Old Mothers‘ is a delight, ‘Sacred Blood Divine Lies‘ rocks hard, and ‘Your Dreams Won’t Die‘ is as emotionally intense and engaging as ever. The epic ‘How Far Jerusalem‘ is not quite as exciting or riveting as its studio counterpart, but in general Live at the Symphony Hall contains some brilliant renditions of much-loved songs that are both true to the original versions and at the same time expand a bit on them, which is what any proper live album ought to do. Edguy’s Tobias Sammet makes a cool appearance on the Lost on the Road to Eternity title track and Rebecca Downes adds her hauntingly beautiful vocals to the aforementioned ‘Without Love‘.

One cannot deny that there is a certain magic present on Live at the Symphony Hall and it serves as a great testament to Tony Clarkin’s huge compositional talent. It also indicates that there is a lot of mileage left in the Magnum tank and that we can expect great things from them in the future, be it live shows or records. What yours truly loves about this one is that Magnum are firing on all cylinders and clearly still have something that they wish to prove to us, which is admirable and inspiring. Is this as essential or mind-blowing as the 1991 The Spirit live album? No, not really, but it is a damn fine output that perfectly encapsulates the vibe and feel of a triumphant home town gig in front of a rapturous crowd.

Jens Nepper
Jens Nepper
Born and raised in Denmark, currently living in Norway, and hopelessly addicted to coffee and Black Sabbath.

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