Prog Stage, July 25 2010

With new career-spanning box set The Gathering winning rave reviews – not least right here – and the promise of a brand new album in the New Year, the creative force that is Magnum shows no sign of weakening anytime soon.

Whether the Midlands crew can be considered fully paid upmembers of the prog scene is open to question and if their appearance on High Voltage’s third stage raised a few eyebrows then there was nothing surprising about the band’s set. With Magnum you get what you pay for: sensational musicianship, singalong choruses and a partnership in Bob Catley and Tony Clarkin as tight as Rob Halford’s leather pants.

If the band refuse to concentrate solely  on the bulging back catalogue which makes The Gathering such a compelling listen then it’s only because the quality of their recent output has been so consistently high.

When We Were Younger, the epic opener from 2007’s Princess Alice And The Broken Arrow, is a modern Magnum classic and The Moonking, from 2009’s follow-up Into The Valley Of The Moonking, is proof that there’s more than enough life in the old boys yet.

Both songs preceded a fabulous three-song finale with the versions of Les Morts Dansant and Kingdom Of Madness – the anthem which started it all for Clarkin and co. way back when – as good as anything we’d hear all weekend.

With a good number of word perfect Magnum devotees singing every word to every song, albeit in a subdued, almost polite fashion, there was a truly heart-warming feelgood factor underpinning a special set from five accomplished performers.

If you considered catching Magnum but opted out in the end then mark that down as your first, and possibly biggest, mistake of High Voltage 2010. This set was always guaranteed to raise the bar – that it proved so effortless on the part of the men out front is testimony to a band growing old very gracefully indeed.