Magnum - Escape From the Shadow Garden Live (SPV/Steamhammer)

Revisiting past glories... again...
Release Date: 
11 May 2015 (All day)

Another year, another live album from UK pomp rock stalwarts Magnum. This is, by my reckoning, their ninth live outing and, in reality, there’s not much too choose between any of them.

If it’s old material you’re interested in, you’d be better served by investigating 1991’s excellent The Spirit, a snapshot of the band in its absolute pomp and playing with arena-shattering majesty; Or, better yet if you can find it, sniff out the live document of the band’s 1982 US tour in support of Ozzy Osbourne, Invasion Live. Here lies the essence of what made this most enduring of English hard rock bands so great, but, if you’re too lazy to hunt out what MaF editor Scott Adams would doubtless refer to as ‘the good stuff’ then …Shadow Garden will have to do.

Recorded, as the title would suggest, on the band’s recent tour in support of last studio album Escape From the Shadow Garden, the album features three tracks from that record (opener Live ‘til You Die, Unwritten Sacrifice and Falling for the Big Plan) as well as other newer material such as Black Skies and Freedom Day (both from the excellent 2011 release The Visitation), alongside welcome rereadings of some of the bands’ out-and-out classics, viz How Far Jerusalem, All England’s Eyes and a vibrant, heavied-up take on Les Morts Dansant, not to mention an edgy, dramatic revisit for the excellent Vigilante.

The album closes with Kingdom of Madness, a track that has featured on every single one of Magnum’s eight other live releases, begging the question as to whether something more únusual’ might have elbowed it’s way into the running order to perhaps make this more of an essential purchase for fans and collectors alike.

Still, that’s a small gripe; the performances here are nothing less than brilliant, especially from vocalist Bob Catley who, despite approaching his seventieth year on the planet still sings magnificently throughout, backed as ever by the rock solid lead guitar of longtime cohort Tony Clarkin

Basically, if you know Magnum, you know what this sounds like, and you’ll make your decision to buy based solely on how much of a completist you happen to be; Other, more casual listeners might like to seek out the titles mentioned above in preference, but all things considered this is still worth a few quid of anyone’s money.