The Progmeister (on behalf of Midlands Metalheads)
I’m gonna start this review by mentioning one thing: CornFlakes. Hold that thought as you progress through this write-up, I’ll say no more….
So, we had two bands tonight, kicking off with Vega. Now if you decide to check them out on the ‘tinternet, bear in mind there’s a Turkish rock band called Vega, who’ve been around since 1996.
Here’s the address of their OFFICIAL website – https://www.vegaofficial.co.uk/.
Anyway, let’s take a look at Vega – the UK Rock band. I must admit I’d never heard of them before tonight, maybe coz I usually hang around in Prog circles and Prog this band definitely are NOT. So, what are they – Speaking to Rob Billingham (photographer extraordinaire and father of tonight’s keyboard player – the band’s usual keyboard player is on paternity leave !!) they are billed as Glam/Sleaze !! I don’t know who the fuck comes up with these labels coz I didn’t see any Glam and certainly no Sleaze, so whoever comes up with these genres/labels, you need to put on your thinking cap dude, these guys fit nicely in the “Def Leppard” 80s AOR/Melodic Rock genre. They are a six piece band – two guitarists, bass, drums, keyboards and front man/lead vocalist Nick Workman who definitely carries his position with ease. Powerful voice, good stage presence and a bit of banter with the audience going on including the obligatory vocal echoing – I sing it, you repeat, a great way of building audience rapport. With their fourth album hot off the presses “Who We Are” (with an absolutely superb cover featuring a brilliant caricature of the band) they were obviously keen to promote it, but rather than hog the setlist with tracks from it, especially as the majority of the audience would not have heard it yet, (it only came out 13th May), they kept the set varied and pulled on tracks from their earlier material, keep it real guys… A lot of energy and enthusiasm from every member of the band. If you like your classic rock, these guys would definitely tick all the boxes and in a one hour set, they certainly owned the room and had plenty of support and love from the Magnum crowd gathered here tonight. Check ’em out – solid musicianship, rockin’ guitar and a solid rhythm section topped with a very capable front-man, brill.
After the band leave the stage (no time for an encore) and the obligatory equipment swap, Magnum take the stage around 9.15 with Master Catley, the ringleader, dressed in white denim and sporting a very stylish pair of tinted glasses took his place centre stage along with Al Barrow (Bass) and the legendary Tony Clarkin on guitar whilst Mark Stanway (Keys) and Harry James (Drums) stood aloft on podiums. I’d previously seen Magnum when they played the original Robin, when it was based near Merry Hill (a very compact and bijou venue with sweat dripping of the walls, shame they had to pull it down) and also Wolves Civic, when Bob Catley came on stage down a huge flight of steps from the centre of the stage in his, then, characteristic top hat and tails. Being local boys, they have a lot of support in the room and despite the vast number of Magnum T-shirts on view, it’s obvious the band are among friends, they’re preaching to the converted. A very well-established band with a wealth of back catalogue material to pull on (18 studio albums !!), I was very keen to hear tonight’s setlist and varied it was. Like Vega, the band could have sooo focused on their latest album “Sacred Blood, Divine Lies” but no, they mixed it up and pulled on new, old and, more specifically, CLASSIC tracks that have become firm fan favourites like “Vigilante”, “How Far Jerusalem”, “Les Morts Dansant”, “On A Storyteller’s Night” and for the encore “The Spirit” and “Kingdom Of Madness” – which gave us all ample opportunity to exercise our vocal chords as we all joined in. In fact, there were a few times I think Bob could have left the stage and left the audience to fill in the gap. These are songs that are known and loved by EVERY rock solid Magnum fan and the band know it. This was familiar territory, Magnum are what they are, a very well-established and much loved Classic rock band who know their strengths and make the most of them. Not a lot of banter going on from stage to crowd, but overall I firmly believe the audience got EXACTLY what they were looking and hoping for, I don’t think for a minute anybody left disappointed. Tonight’s gig was like a comfy pair of shoes or indeed, a bowl of cornflakes – they’ve been around for years and everybody who loves them knows what to expect. It’s tried and tested and you know what they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – Magnum, as English as Sunday Roast, gotta love ’em……