Magnum - 'Escape From The Shadow Garden – Live 2014' - 5/5
Iconic British melodic rockers - Magnum, release a new live album ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden – Live 2014’ following a successful launch and tour of their 2014 studio album, 'Escape From The Shadow Garden'.
Having had the pleasure of seeing two dates of the tour (enjoying every second of it), the idea of a live album obviously got me smiling from ear to ear, though I can understand that some fans could be a little apprehensive ... but be at ease, after hearing this album, any initial negative thoughts can be disregarded. This is something special and the selection of both classic and recent Magnum favourites result in an album you can't pass by.
Unlike many mature rock bands, Magnum still have the ability to release new material that is both creative and on par with the 'classics;. These guys seem to put every ounce of passion and purpose into their live performances and maintain consistency with their style. This shines through on ‘Escape From The Shadow Garden – Live 2014’.
Opened with intense atmosphere builder, 'Live 'till You Die', this track has many of the elements that make Magnum listeners, Magnum Followers. A track that seems to have been constructed specifically to be live show opener; phenomenal musicianship, enchanting lyrics and a strong structure that gives Bob Catley plenty of opportunity to warm up the crowd in traditional fashion. Scene set, a series of hard hitting, heavier tracks demand full attention. 'Black Skies', 'Freedom Day' and 'Dance Of The Black Tattoo' allow Catley's vocals to dominate. These songs seem to have been written with live performance in mind.
On The 13th Day's 'Blood red Laughter' is a mid-album/mid show belter. Fairly simple in it's entirety, it's a song that really packs a punch with Catley's gritty vocals. Following closely behind is 'Unwritten Sacrifice'. A track debuted on 2014's release, Escape From The Shadow Garden. Initiating with an inciting keys intro from Mark Stanway, accompanied by Bob Catley's softened vocals, it's a track that gets crowds into a chant-like sing-along. The rhythm supporting this track is pretty much spot on! No frills but completely relevant and complimentary.
Track seven pulls the reins on the pace and leads back to the much loved 'How Far Jerusalem', from On A Storyteller's Night. Again, Stanway takes charge on keys with a haunting sound that riles up the crowd as the anticipation builds before Clarkin kicks in with that melodic riff that we know oh so well. A true Magnum classic that's another spankin' crowd pleaser! Track eight keep us in the realm of On A Storytellers' Night with a sublime variant of 'Les Morts Dansant'. It's difficult to fault this song at all and can be put right up there with the greatest ballads ever written, right? Of course! Well done Clarkin! Giving that this track is vastly about the vocals and lyrical content, Bob handles this song extremely well, diverting from the typical album sound and taking a relaxed approach which makes for a bit of a masterpiece.
Settled down and cosy in a Magnum comfort blanket, you're not there for long as relatively new 'Falling for the Big Plan' takes us back to the bigger, hard hitting rhythms lead by Al Barrow (Bass) and Harry James (Drums). Any dedicated Magnum fan will be listening to this song, visualising the iconic hand gestures from the master storyteller himself ... It sort of makes this track what it is. You can't avoid the groove and evidently, it's a song that gets Catley's choir in high spirit.
Another classic throw down, track ten 'All Englands Eyes' is a snippet taken from a Swedish show on the tour and it's clear that the band were having a fantastic time, as well as receiving an encouraging response. With Catley orchestrating the audience, the band deliver a stunning musical performance of this golden oldie.
Widely known 'Kingdom of Madness' closes this album in a fantastic guitar-driven, all givin' performance with thanks to both the band and fans. With Catley's choir singing word-for-word, Tony Clarkins' guitar soaring and a sturdy rhythm from Harry James and Al Barrow, this is the closing of the Escape From The Shadow Garden book, and what a memorable ending it is.
This album allows you to experience the true essence of Magnum and their ability to not only create stunning music, but to also be able to perform it. It encapsulates both Magnum staples and heavier offerings of more recent material. Most definitely an addition that every avid Magnum fan should own.
Right, now I'm off to buy myself some Magnum tickets.
1. Live ‘til You Die
2. Black Skies
3. Freedom Day
4. Dance of the Black Tattoo
5. Blood Red Laughter
6. Unwritten Sacrifice
7. How Far Jerusalem
8. Les Morts Dansant
9. Falling For the Big Plan
10. All England’s Eyes
12. Kingdom of Madness
Review by: Christiane Robinson