Interview with Bob Catley from Magnum

Magnum Logo

Interview with Bob Catley from Magnum
Cardiff, 7th December, 2022
Interviewed by Simon Black

It’s a bitterly cold December night here in Cardiff and Bob Catley, Magnum frontman for fifty years has a nasty toothache which the weather is not helping with. I offer him some paracetamol but he’s not biting “I hate paracetamol! I’m going to start having my warmup drink soon. I don’t mind having that…!” he says with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. His warmup drink of choice for all these decades has long been a JD and coke and although I do try and tempt him with a miniature of locally distilled Penderyn Welsh whisky, he’s sticking to his guns. For five decades he knows what works and if it isn’t broken don’t fix it id the best strategy – which pretty well sums up what Magnum manages to still deliver so well after all this time. Their most recent album “The Monster Roars” landed at the start of the year and for me at least feels like it’s in their top three of all time, although touring both it and its predecessor has been somewhat of a challenge… So Bob, welcome to Cardiff! Finally!

Cheers! The good old Tramshed! Yes, we’ve been here a few times before…

This show seems to be have been rescheduled forever. Is it nice to finally close the tour?

Yes, we were supposed to do it in April this year and it was rescheduled because of Covid. But then that whole tour was rescheduled from 2020! So, it’s taken us two years to get here. The whole thing was put back three times, so it was actually re-re-re-scheduled! Then, when we were due to play Cardiff, Covid put it back again! It was crap for everybody…

How was the Pandemic for you guys, because that was a terrifying time for everybody?

Me and Tony were lucky, because Tony could bring forward the recording of the new album by a year, so we had twice as long as we normally have to finish the album. We did it in two halves, with half in 2020 and half in 2021 and it was released in 2022. At least we weren’t just doing nothing, so we had more time with less pressure to do it in, which was good in a way but rubbish because we couldn’t do the tours. Everybody had bought a ticket and was asking “What’s happening…?”

It was originally going to be “The Serpent Rings” Tour when I first put it into my diary…

Yes, it was going to be “The Serpent Rings” Tour in 2020 when that album came out – like you do: album, tour, festivals, Christmas – and then Covid got in the way, and just wouldn’t go away, which was crap for everybody. It just ruined everything for all the bands everywhere in this country.

There’s a lot of good venues that have gone too…

Yeah, venues have gone, promoters have gone, a lot of stuff’s gone too, even pubs! It was like a disaster movie, but for real. But we’re here now, and we were in Southampton last night which was another good show rescheduled because of Covid. I think the Bristol one, which we did on Monday was rescheduled out of respect for the Queen’s funeral though. We didn’t think it was the right thing to do to go and play loud music on the Queen’s funeral day! But we’ve done them all now, and we’re here tonight – great! Then we have one more show on Saturday in Wolverhampton at KK’s Steel Mill, and that’s the end of our year.

Congratulations on “The Monster Roars” – it looks like it did quite well around Europe.

Yes, it’s done marvellously in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. Top 5 in Germany, Number 2 in Sweden and about Number 8 in Switzerland. That’s the normal album chart, not one of these “other” things where you’re number one there but it doesn’t mean anything! Proper album charts!

This feels like a much darker record – starting with that wonderful cover, which is not the usual Rodney Matthews painting style.

The artwork was by an artist who made up a model and that’s the image you got. Now Rodney Matthews wasn’t available, and so Tony went with this idea of the model. We’d got the song title “The Monster Roars” and we thought “We’ve got to call the album that – that’s a great title track” and we needed an image to go with it. We mentioned to Rodney what we would like, and he said “Well, I’m not very good at drawing people and I’m a bit busy at the moment doing other things…” So OK, fine, hopefully we can use you next time, but it was a great idea and it’s all make-up. There was a young lady who made up Martin, who is Tony’s son in law, he was the model and that’s what we ended up with photographing. It’s brilliant! It was really shocking when I first saw it, it was like “Wow!” and it took me some time to get used to it. I thought “Oh, well this is different; OK and Rodney’s not available so this is a great alternative to what we normally have anyway.”

We have done different things without Rodney over the years, as he hasn’t always been available and it hasn’t always been right to use him, if the record label got involved and dictated that we must do it a certain way, but given the choice we would use Rodney all the time… When he’s available…! I think it’s a great album cover and it’s perfect for the lyrics to the song, which is basically about a child’s nightmare. It’s fantasy; it’s not real – but it’s pretty real in your dreams. And it’s all in the lyrics – we haven’t turned into demon worshippers!

It kicks off a moodier and darker feeling album though – did Covid play a part in that in terms of the song-writing?

I don’t think so. You would have to ask Tony about that. I think that those would have been the songs on that album with or without Covid – there’s nothing about Covid in there, which is the obvious things to write about, I suppose, but I don’t think that that was in his head at all. I think he knew what he wanted, and then we get started and get going and the songs are the songs, you know? 

The subject matter can be anything. He’s a great songwriter, Tony, and I’ve worked with him for fifty years now, which is amazing! I ask him what the song’s about, so I know what I am singing about, then through the recording process he will change the words when I’m singing, as what he’s got in his head doesn’t always come out as good when you actually sing it. He can tell that it doesn’t scan well, will go off and come back having changed it. One song wasn’t working that great this time, compared to all the others this time and he completely changed the whole song, so we ended up with a completely different tune. That can happen as well – you think you’ve got it all and then it’s “No, it’s not working” and they’re all brilliant apart from one.  I mean it was still pretty good but compared to the rest of them it wasn’t coming up to the mark this time. You do have to do that sometimes – you have to pull it apart and start again, and he had the time to do it. 

[I tell Bob how much I love that the sound on those last two records now feels like a true fusion of everything the band have done since reforming this century.] The album drips that classic early 70’s Hard Rock vibe but with a truly modern feel, especially the way that the keyboards sounds are working, the interplay between Tony and Rick Benton. Was that deliberate or did it just evolve naturally?

Rick Benton is a great keyboard player. We’ve had him for a few years now and he works with Tony just great, as he comes up with these great sounds that fit the songs and the mood of the music, or what I’m singing. So yeah, some older sounds that were around – he’s brought them in and we’re like “Oh yeah!”. You know like Oberheim stuff that people used to use – 80’s sounds that we would have used on “Chase The Dragon” or “On A Storyteller’s Night”. Tony’s all “Yeah, try that sound! Use that sound!” and Rick will go and come up with it. He’ll go away and programme it all and then come in and play it, so it’s all demoed before; then we’ll go into the studio and here’s the real thing… and everything changes! 

The song key has to change half the time because of writing it on a guitar, as Tony will do the melody line on the guitar for me to familiar with, but then you find it’s in an ‘in-between’ key of up here or down there, so you have to change the key to get the best out of the vocals. That happens quite often. Changing the key on the keyboards is just a button, but poor Tony has to do all the guitars again! “Right let’s do all the guitars again” so, it’s my fault, because it’s different when you’re singing, as the voice is the most important thing at the time…

I love that your voice is like a lovely, aged whiskey and seems to get better every year…

Well, I know how to do it now… I’ve been doing it all my life. Singers get better with age, they really do. You have more control and emotion, and subtlety, and things that when you first start don’t exist really.

*At this point Bob mimics a more shouty performance of yesteryear which is a far cry from the measured and bluesy timbre of his voice today.* 

I was just like that really, because I was young and excitable and I’ve calmed down a lot over the years, but I do think I’ve got better with maturity. I hope so, I think so, I know so! And that reflects in the songs, in the way I sing them and what Tony gives me. We’re both ‘maturing’, and that’s gonna happen, you know? Although he’s Rockier now than he ever was and he’s a way better Producer now than he ever was… 

I have to agree. The Production on “The Monster Roars” is an absolute pinnacle of the band’s achievements of the years.

He’s great, and he just takes the time to get all these sounds right in the mix – I don’t know how he does it! He’s just a very clever man, and I’m very glad to be working with him for all this time. And he’s done wonders for me and my career. He’s made me better than I ever was, so it’s a growing relationship and it’s great! We just carry on – it is what we do. We’re not looking for anything else really. I mean I do Avantasia on occasion, and Rick will do stuff with people, and Lee will do some stuff with other people in between albums and tours. Meanwhile Tone is back in his studio writing while I’m off going round the world with Avantasia! But it’s good to come back, and he’s always ready to start working again having had a break.

[I ask Bob how working with Avantasia maestro Tobi Sammet compares to Tony Clarkin, given the man’s unique ability to distil the five greatest songs a singer has contributed to into one new track that completely encapsulates that sound perfectly.] It’s a trick he pulls live too, seemingly always able to push the utmost in a performance from everybody involved. What’s that like as a process in comparison?

Well, he will send you an early mix of the song – just enough for you to know what your part is, and we will go and do it over in Wolverhampton and then send it back to Germany, so we don’t have to be in the same place anymore. That’s not possible… I’ve got the lyrics and I will go to the studio with Sheena, the engineer from Magnum and start putting something down, doing a few takes. Then she will put it together afterwards and send it off to him and he can do what he likes with that. He’s got what he wants off of the artist, which goes for all the singers. He will write a song for that singer, for what that singer’s known for, so it’s not alien – there’s no experimentation here. Give ‘em what they want, right? Bang, bang, bang! This is Bob, singing a Magnum-type song; this is Eric Martin singing a Mr Big type song – in that direction, Michael Kiske a bit like Helloween. It’s good that he does that, so it’s familiarity with the singer that you’re talking about, so you feel comfy with it already because it’s what you are used to…

It seems like Tobi has rebooted a few careers with that technique, but in comparison Magnum may never have really stopped> Is it an unbreakable partnership with Tony and you?

Well, we’ve had several line-up changes over the years – people come and go, but me and Tony are still there. I think it’s great. We work really well together and he’s fine and happy with me going off and doing Avantasia. He gets on well with Tobi too. We actually got Tobi over to the Birmingham Symphony Hall to sing the title track of “Lost On The Road To Eternity” on stage – which he had done on the album. I had been on several Avantasia albums by then so Tony said “Get your mate over to do a duo with you and do it the other way around”. Everything I do with Tobi is a duet, not like Magnum where the singer is just me as in Avantasia you are one of two or three singers on stage at the same time. It’s like a Heavy Metal Rock Opera and it’s brilliant. So, we got him up to the Symphony Hall to sing, and he went down fantasticly well. It seems Avantasia are massive everywhere except the UK…

I concur. The only show we ever seem to be able to get this spectacle for is the London Kentish Town forum for one night, with the exception of a support slot at Bloodstock one year…

Yeah, that Bloodstock festival show was some years ago now. It was just down the road from me at Catton Hall, as I live in Tamworth, just round the corner. It’s a pity that Avantasia only play one show in London once every three years, because everywhere else they’re just enormous and playing arenas, which is brilliant. They’re regulars at Wacken too…

Well, when your first ever live show as a band is headlining Wacken in 2008…

Wacken is always great – we did it again just recently. I love Wacken. The backstage area is really nice and posh for a rock and roll festival, the furniture is comfy, the careering is brilliant, and the dressing rooms are really clean and warm. Tony is happy for me to go off and do Avantasia when it’s suitable, but it can’t get in the way of what’s happening in the Magnum camp – that has to come first of course. Magnum is more of a priority, and Tobias knows that. It works great, and I’m looking forward to the next time – whenever that may be. We’ve just done loads of festivals to promote that last album (“A Paranormal Evening With The Moonflower Society”). On the later festivals we had started to do two songs from the new album. Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) did a track from it, a very heavy track, and I did the (almost) title track ‘The Moonflower Society’ along with the one he wrote for me years ago ‘The Story Ain’t Over’. 

That song came out originally on the “Lost In Space” EP and was very much a part of “The Scarecrow” album cycle – the point where Avantasia stopped being a studio project and evolved into a touring circus with regular album cycles from then on – something that Bob has contributed to since that point…

Yes well, Tobi is a big Magnum fan. He’s probably also a big Helloween fan, and a big Mr Big fan as well, so he tries to get all of his heroes onto the album then onto the stage and the tour with him – which is a great compliment, you know? He’s said to me personally, and on stage as well quite often when he’s introducing me and talking to the audience (which can be a bit embarrassing) saying “Without the next singer’s band and music there probably wouldn’t have been a Tobias Sammet or an Avantasia, so please welcome on stage Bob Catley from Magnum..”… and you can’t get better than that. It’s quite emotional! 

We’re all a bunch of idiots backstage; there’s no egos. But there could be and there is quite a lot in Rock ‘n’ Roll as you know, but it doesn’t exist backstage with Avantasia – everyone’s all on the same level. Some artists sell more records than others, but we’re all in Avantasia and it’s a great camaraderie. As in Magnum! As in our line-up now – we have a great camaraderie and that’s really important for longevity. You’ve got to get on; you’ve got to like each other for goodness’ sake and respect each other. It’s a mutual respect thing, because you are in each other’s shoes for the whole six weeks tour, so you have just got to get on with each individual and be nice people – with each other and the fans, and everybody else. Be a good bloke and behave yourself! We haven’t got room for anything that isn’t that cool, which is how a band should be.

Is touring still fun after all this time?

Oh yeah! Sure, I love it! Fantastic! I even like the tour bus! There’s tour buses and there’s tour buses, but this one is nice! 

It’s nearly 35 years since Wings of Heaven when I first saw you live, and 25 years since I first interviewed you. So how does it feel to be still going strong after 50 years?

I know! Ha ha! I don’t think about it that much – we just kept going! We had a short break when I did some solo records when Hard Rain wasn’t working out for me. That was a low point, but 50 years has gone like that, you know? The 80’s is like last year to me! I’m still in the 80’s! I hate change – I don’t move on very well, you know? The music may move on, but I don’t fundamentally, I am still an 80’s bloke! I’ve still got the hair, although I’m not wearing ripped jeans anymore – I’m a bit too old for that! They were more rips than jeans, but they would look ridiculous on me now! But I am quite juvenile in my approach to everything – I still think I’m about 35 or something instead of twice that age. But it’s done me good, it’s kept me young and it’s brilliant! So yes, I love touring and so does Tony. It’s what we’re there for – record an album, put it out, start rehearsing and off you go on tour, and you just keep that going.  

As long as people still want to see that and hear the music and still find us relevant to what’s going on in the world. There’s a lot of subject matter out there – Tony’s a very great observer. He’s not a preacher or a political, but he’s a great observer and he will wrap it up in poetry and fantasy. Quite down to earth things, but he will make it sound ambiguous by adding a double meaning. It’s all in his head – he’s a great reader of books and he absorbs a lot of stuff. He’s very intelligent – more intelligent than I think many people realise. He’s great and it’s a treasure to savour, and look after, to behold and to keep in your pocket. That’s Magnum – it’s a little treasure! Our fans do tell us that…

Magnum were always the band boosting sales in the nearest pub to the venue after soundcheck, does that still happen?

No, we’re over that now – we haven’t done that for a long time! Tony stopped drinking some years ago, so it’s all his fault! We used to follow him to the pub “Come on, we’re going to the pub”, “Oh, alright then…” not that we needed much arm twisting believe me! That’s how it was in the 70’s and 80’s – everybody was like that: alcohol fuelled. Cigarettes and alcohol! We hadn’t got any money – we were broke, so we ended up poncing drinks the whole time “Cheers, thanks!”. Good days! When we started out you couldn’t get us out of the boozer, but that hasn’t happened for a very long time. We’re far more responsible now, thank God, otherwise we wouldn’t have reached this time in our lives. If we had carried on like that, that’s just going down the wrong way… I mean I like a drink – we all do, especially with Christmas coming up, but in moderation. I like getting a bit merry, but nothing more than that. You can’t mix work with pleasure – it’s one or the other. 

Our time is almost over and with an insistent tour manager keen to get Bob ready for the show, I ask him looking back over all these decades, what moments in his career stand out the most after all this time? 

Monsters of Rock, Castle Donnington 1985. That was great, even though we were on first. 

I guess that going on first meant you were less likely to get pelted by bottles filled with unsavoury contents, given that the crowd had probably not finished drinking their original contents…?

Oh yes, people would throw things at the stage if they don’t like you. I had mud slung at me, and a bottle of something smash and explode against the drum riser – I hate to think what it was! But that was a long time ago, though Monsters of Rock was a high. 

Ozzy Osbourne’s USA tour in 1982 as well, just after Randy Rhoads had died in that awful plane crash. We came onto the tour then and Sharon and Ozzy looked after us very well nicely as we were on the same label – Jet Records (Run by Sharon’s father Don Arden). Yeah, we were on the same label, and we were all from Birmingham Ozzy’s hometown, so they took us under their wing. We had just had “Chase The Dragon” in the charts and went off on tour with Ozzy – that’s definitely another stand out moment. He and Sharon were lovely to us. They didn’t know us very well, but we went down really good over there, so we made a lot of converts and we started selling albums after we played in the States. We went back twice as well, because Ozzy had lost his voice and we all had to all come home and then go back again some weeks later to complete it all down the Eastern seaboard and the Southern States. It was great! 

Stand out moments though – being at Hammersmith Odeon on the stage and Tommy Vance coming on the radio and saying “You are now joining 3 million people listening on the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show”. That’s another moment…

But it’s all highlights for me, what we do. Just playing in front of the audience of Magnum fans on a nightly basis is a standout moment on its own, without all those other things. Just being on tour in front of your audience, and with the band – it can’t get better than that! It’s fantastic – there is nothing better than that. It’s what keeps you going. That’s your life blood…


Disclaimer: This interview is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Magnum, with support from Vega, and Theia at Tramshed, Cardiff 07/12/22

Magnum, with support from Vega, and Theia
Tramshed, Cardiff
Live Review by Richard Oliver
Photography by Paul Hutchings 

Opening tonight’s proceedings were alternative rock two-piece Theia.  Describing themselves as “the bastard sons of Royal Blood and Twenty One Pilots”, the duo had the tough job of warming up a frozen crowd thanks to the sub-zero temperatures outside.  With a mix of accessible, modern and straightforward rock mixed with plenty of self-deprecating humour, dad jokes and a determination to have fun, Theia succeeded in winning round the audience by the time they finished their set.  The duo are brothers with Kyle Lamley on vocals and guitar and Ash Lamley on the drums whe rest of the instrumentation being provided by backing tracks.  Whilst backing tracks are commonly used by bands there was an over-reliance on them which detracted from the live experience for me.  Whilst the music wasn’t the sort of thing I would listen to out of choice, there was no denying the fun and enthusiasm put forth by Theia and they did a great job of warming up the audience in The Tramshed.

Landing the main support slot were UK melodic hard rockers Vega.  The band are a six-piece who formed in 2009 and have been mainstays of the melodic and hard rock circuit since with a string of excellent albums.  I have seen Vega perform multiple times and they are always an exceptional act and tonight was no different.  They are an immensely slick and polished act and masters of their craft, with absolutely flawless performances especially from lead guitarist Marcus Thurston, who cracked out some absolutely fantastic solos and from frontman Nick Workman who never fails to impress with his vocal range.  Many in the crowd were familiar with Vega and cheered, clapped and sang along enthusiastically to songs such as Worth Dying For, Every Little Monster and White Flag.  Their set was brought to a close with a cover of Def Leppard’s radio Rock classic ‘Animal’, which was a bit of an odd choice considering Vega have seven albums worth of their own material but it went down well with all the classic rock fans in the house.  Once again Vega proved themselves to be one of the top acts in the UK AOR and Melodic Rock scene.

Headlining the evening were a band that really needs no introduction with a career spanning 50 years and a discography longer than the extended versions of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – it was the legendary Magnum.  The show had been postponed from earlier in the year due to a member of the band catching covid, but this was a show that was definitely worth the wait.  Two members of the band are now in their 70’s but this certainly does not hold back the band in terms of intensity and enthusiasm, with Magnum performing to a level that most bands should aspire to.  There was fantastic interplay between the members, especially between guitarist Tony Clarkin and keyboard player Rick Benton.  Legendary frontman Bob Catley may have a few vocal wobbles here and there, but his stamina and stage presence which belies his age and the vocal interplay between him and bassist Dennis Ward was sublime.  The love and loyalty from the band’s fanbase has not dimmed either and the band seem to be gaining new fans as there was a real cross-section of generations in attendance at the show and the cheers, clapping and sing-alongs were in abundance.  With fifty years of material and twenty-two albums to pick from it is always going to be difficult for a band to find a setlist which covers their career unless they played for five hours, but Magnum managed to find an excellent balance with songs from latest album “The Monster Roars”, songs off more recent albums such as ‘Lost On The Road To Eternity’ and ‘Where Are You Eden?’ as well as some deeper cuts such as ‘Dance Of The Black Tattoo’ and ‘The Flood (Red Cloud’s War)’ as well as songs from what are deemed as the classic albums, which of course got the biggest and most enthusiastic responses from the audience, such as ‘Days Of No Trust’, ‘Rockin’ Chair’, ‘All England’s Eyes’, ‘Vigilante’ and ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’.  Bands like Magnum aren’t going to be with us for much longer as time and age marches on, but right now they are still at their peak; playing killer shows and releasing great albums.  The balance between newer and older songs shows that Magnum are far from a nostalgia act and are still an essential band in the Melodic and Hard Rick scene.  With shows as good as this one, get out  and see Magnum whilst you still have a chance.




Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Richard and Ever Metal. Photography property of Paul Hutchings. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Magnum, Vega, Theia – Islington Assembly Hall, London (England) – 30/03/22

Magnum, Vega, Theia
Islington Assembly Hall, London (England)
30th March, 2022
Live Review by Chris Galea

Magnum are one of those rare bands who don’t have even one album that I really loathe. I even like their live albums, such as “The Spirit” (1991) or “Marauder” (1980) and I’m not even a fan of live albums. So you might empathise with the palpable sense of excitement that I felt as I entered this north London venue to see the band for the very first time.

This was also the first time I went to a gig at the Islington Assembly Hall and rarely have gigs I’ve covered gone so smoothly… fully air-conditioned venue, no unnecessary hassles for the photo-pit, well-organised merch stands, etc.

Vega were one of the supporting bands and I only had a fleeting awareness of their music. No problem….I’m always eager to discover my next favourite band. But before Vega, there was another band which briefly strutted their musical wares….


Theia was a 2-man band augmented by pre-programmed samples. Before their first song, the duo held out a sign which said ‘Applause’ – clearly a witty initiative to encourage crowd involvement. And the drummer and guitarist / singer were dressed in what looked like paint-stained handyman overalls. Comedy seems to be an integral part of Theia.

The songs themselves tended to have Pop-leaning choruses and sounded rather generic, but I enjoyed the vibe during set closer ‘The Day’. It was hard to take the band seriously but as Kyle Lamley (Theia singer/guitarist) said, Theia’s show was all about entertainment.


Although Vega have seven albums to their name, this was my first real foray into the band’s music. Presenting themselves in a slightly Glam-like image, for Vega it was all about catchy and slick Hard Rock songs. As the band played the first few numbers of their set, Skid Row and Def Leppard were two points of reference that crossed my mind, especially the latter. During several moments of Vega’s set my mind also drifted to “Hot In The Shade”, which admittedly isn’t my favourite Kiss album.

Now enough name-dropping… Vega’s own material had a lot of strong melodies even though the songs themselves sometimes felt a bit mundane. There were a couple of ballads but I felt that the Rock-ier, more up-tempo parts of their set were more enjoyable. As if in vindication of my initial impressions, Vega ended their set with a cover of Def Leppard’s ‘Animal’.

Vega piqued enough of my interest to want to check out their music further. Good omen, I suppose.


Besides parading their recent “The Monster Roars” album, Magnum were also celebrating 5 decades since the band first came together. It’s hard to articulate what I find so appealing with Magnum’s music, but the quality of the band’s song-writing and the material’s execution always had a timeless characteristic to them. For me the songs sound great in context of any decade or mood.

This same timelessness had a physical embodiment tonight as band founders Tony Clarkin (guitar) and Bob Catley (vocals) performed with the same verve of someone half their age. Accompanying Clarkin and Catley were keyboard maestro Rick Benton, the versatile drummer Lee Morris (Paradise Lost, Marshall Law) and the ubiquitous Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Unisonic, Place Vendome) on bass.

With a bent on Magnum’s classic repertoire – in addition to a couple of surprises – the set-list included atmosphere, up-tempo Rock, introspection and anthemic material in order to make the concert a memorable experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Day After’ and ‘Rockin’ Chair’ brought back many happy memories. In ‘Les Morts Dansent’ the crowd’s singing of the chorus made that one of the show’s highlights. The familiar keyboard intro to ‘Vigilante’ elicited rapturous cheers and ‘All England Eyes’ got a similar reaction. There clearly were many passionate Magnum fans in Islington Assembly Hall.

‘Wild Swan’ hadn’t been in my personal wish list (and I suspect neither on that of other audience members), but I’m glad Magnum played it because it’s a great song with a great guitar melody… it has a very Whitesnake-like feel to it.

I would have liked to hear ‘Don’t Wake The Lion’, ‘The Prize’, ‘Sleepwalking’  or even the more recent ‘Archway Of Tears’ (“The Serpent Rings” is the best Magnum album in ages for me) but I definitely can’t complain… I’m more than satisfied with what the band opted to include.

Magnum rounded off with ‘A Storyteller’s Night’ and ‘Sacred Hour’ – two amazing songs – and Bob Catley seemed genuinely moved by the crowd’s warm response. Concert over, before the band members walked off the stage they all took a moment to seep in their fans’ adulation and signal their gratitude. Even the usually sombre-looking Tony Clarkin couldn’t resist smiling at that point. 

“See the night sky supernova / Chase the cold moon passing over / Start the dragon’s fire to smoulder / On a storyteller’s night.” 

As I zip up my jacket while I exit the venue, it struck me that Magnum’s performance was basically an enactment of their song ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’.


Islington Assembly Hall:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Magnum – The Monster Roars

Magnum Album Cover Art

Magnum – The Monster Roars
Steamhammer / SPV
Release Date: 14/01/22
Running Time: 58:27
Review by Simon Black

I need to be honest with you here, I’ve loved this band since I was about sixteen, which is a very, very long time ago. Even back in the mid-Eighties, Magnum were a bit of an outlier. Not really part of the mainstream Rock scene but with a toe dipped subtly into the Metal world, and by making themselves that little bit more anthemic, they nonetheless had organically built themselves a considerable following in that decade. It took a while mind and remember that they’ve been going since flared trousers were first in fashion, but during that time, and despite the ropey early record labels, the painfully underinvested production values courtesy of skinflint Don Arden and an endlessly dodgy club slogging circuit that would have demolished the enthusiasm of many other acts, they still built themselves a very devoted and loving fan base of which I’m happy to count myself a part. 

By the time I found them they had clawed themselves up into Major Label Land in time for their breakout (and still standout) “On A Storyteller’s Night” and from then on they were unstoppable for a while, having elevated themselves to arena status for their absolute high spot ‘Wings of Heaven’ tour. Their momentum misfired in the early 90’s, but then so did everyone’s, and for a bit they threw in the towel and went on hiatus until a side-project called Hard Rain convinced main man Tony Clarkin and front man Bob Catley that the love was absolutely still there, and a reformation was in order. Having attended both their ‘farewell’ in 1996 and their return in 2002 at their hometown I couldn’t have been respectively sadder, then happier. Since that time Magnum have steadily cranked out (mostly) credible and decent albums to the loyal, who I suspect are going to really like this one, and completely continue to deliver the goods live with the annual touring schedule (well, they would but you know, Covid). 

There’s a subtly darker feel to the whole record, which starts with the much more stylistically dark cover – a clean break from the usual colourful fantasy Rodney Matthews fare, opting instead for a moody photo courtesy of former Hard Rain drummer Rob Barrow, of the still firmly fairytale and fantasy titular beast. This feels like Magnum rebooting themselves for a new decade and you can’t help but respect them for managing to pull the same trick off for five decades and counting…

What makes it work is that the central essence of the band is still there in Toby Clarkin and Bob Catley. Between them they have written and sung on every track in their considerable back catalogue and despite no longer having any of the other original members involved, have nonetheless in their current incarnation rolled in a stand out group of musos who really love and understand that core Magnum sound. In fact I’m really loving Rick Benton’s keyboard contributions on this record as although much as I loved original stalwart Mark Stanway’s sounds, Benton is a way more technically accomplished player and adds some lovely classical and progressive flourishes on top of the usual melody lines that Clarkin pitches for. The rhythm section feels really fluid this time out too, with some lovely interplay between Ward and Morris that makes this feel like a band with a bit of hunger once more, whilst still keeping those distinctive heart-nudging guitar licks and vocal melody lines and that are Clarkin and Catley’s unique selling point.

And then there’s Bob’s voice. 

This man is well into his seventies, yet seems to have grown into his voice which has matured like the finest of aged single malt whiskeys – dusky, smokey and full of richness. He may not be able to scale the octaves in quite the same way (although he can still surprise you live), but he’s lost none of his delivery, soul and emotion which now bring a lovely, deep maturity to proceedings. Musically Clarkin is not doing anything radically different and I would be annoyed if he did, but this is a mature and well-crafted album with plenty of tonal variety. It’s perhaps not as capable of blowing your socks off so consistently in the way that “On The 13th Day” did (because let’s face it that one went up to eleven), but it’s pretty damn close and this line up has definitely bedded down now. Hopefully they will get to prove this on the road, given that 2020’s “The Serpent Rings” never got the benefit of a live outing but this year’s piece definitely feels a much stronger and richer piece of work, so that’s probably all for the good. Solid, dependable, catchy as fuck and still capable of making my sad old heart beat just that little bit firster, this is a welcome return to form.

‘I Won’t Let you down’ (Official Lyric Video)

01. The Monster Roars
02. Remember
03. All You Believe In
04. I Won’t Let You Down
05. The Present Not the Past
06. No Steppin’ Stones
07. That Freedom Word
08. Your Blood Is Violence
09. Walk the Silent Hours
10. The Day After the Night Before
11. Come Holy Men
12. Can’t Buy Yourself Heaven

Tony Clarkin – Guitar
Bob Catley – Vocals
Rick Benton – Keyboards
Dennis Ward – Bass
Lee Morris – Drums


Magnum Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Magnum – The Serpent Rings

Magnum – The Serpent Rings
Release Date: 17/01/2020
Running Time: 57:06
Review by Paul Monkhouse

Whilst most of their peers have retired or rest on their laurels, Magnum just keep on getting better, with each new album better than the previous one. Musically hitting the same run of success that saw them ascend to headlining arenas in the 1980’s, Messrs. Clarkin and Catley bring a partnership that has been forged through the fire and flame of almost fifty years together and it looks like they have no intention of slowing down. “The Serpent Rings” has all the hallmarks of classic Magnum from the beautiful Rodney Matthews cover onwards and is filled with the magnificently melodic hard rock that their legions of fans have all come to know and love. This certainly isn’t a case of going over old ground for songwriter Tony Clarkin though as he continues to push himself and the band to new heights.

Having been through a major shake-up of the band in the past three years, with new members on keys, drums and bass, rather than derail the band it seems like there’s a new fire and desire to prove themselves. With new bass player Dennis Ward joining the band as recently as Summer 2019, the band hit the studio and the results are some of the best and heaviest work they’ve done. ‘Where Are You Eden?’ is the perfect opening track, its galloping rhythm charges at the listener and to be honest, it sounds absolutely huge. Despite concerns about his voice suffering through the constant touring, Bob Catley is on great form in the studio, the power and nuance in his delivery undiminished. Rick Benton’s keys are also shining through the mix, his playing deft but never overly florid, whilst the new pairing of Ward with drummer Lee Morris, has brought a thunderous heft that provides the perfect bedrock for Clarkin to build on. The guitarist is on top form throughout and the solos on the scorching ‘You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets’ and the multi coloured hues of ‘House Of Kings’ are blistering.

This latter song, along with the epic title track, shows all the facets that make the songwriter/guitarist/producer just so great as each add layer upon layer of sound that only someone like fellow Brummie Jeff Lynne would dare to do. This was never going to be just a run of the mill, straight down the line, rock record and although it packs a powerful punch, there’s still so much to capture both the ear and the imagination. ‘The Great Unknown’ dances on a sea of stars and ‘Man’ has a pugnacious and knowingly bold riff that drives a typically brave skyscraping chorus that reaches to the heavens and then breaks down into a brief section that is reminiscent of 10cc before the solo comes in. The album reaches its end with the thoughtful and thought provoking ‘Crimson On The White Sand’, one of many songs on the album that manages to tell a tale that weaves between the deepest imagination and the harsh glare of a spotlight on a vital and pressing global subject.

There are rockers and there are ballads, all done in the unique Magnum style and ‘The Serpent Rings’ can certainly stand shoulder to shoulder with such classics as ‘Chase the Dragon’ and ‘A Storytellers Night’. Masters of their own destiny, Magnum, steered by the seemingly tireless Clarkin, are still one of the very best bands in the UK and the hallmark for quality. In an ideal world they should be as huge as Queen and this album shows why. Long may they continue!


01. Where Are You Eden?
02. You Can’t Run Faster Than Bullets
03. Madman Or Messiah
04. The Archway Of Tears
05. Not Forgiven
06. The Serpent Rings
07. House Of Kings
08. The Great Unknown
09. Man
10. The Last One On Earth
11. Crimson On The White Sand


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Paul Monkhouse and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.