Hard Rain

Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall

April 23, 1999

OK, well Wulfrun Hall is standing only, so I got to the front of the queue and therefore right at the front of the stage (I only watch concerts from the front these days. You get a worse sound but it's worth it).

Anyway, this was of course the best concert I have ever been to. There were some technical problems:

Al Barrow's bass had some horrible feedback problems and they had to change the lead in mid-song.

Tony's guitar suddenly stopped making any noise at all. This was at the start of Rage On, and they played half the song without a guitar. This was actually surprisingly effective and you notice how interesting the bass line is.

Sue had a problem with her boots (I couldn't see what exactly) and between songs she changed them for an identical black pair which didn't match the rest of her outfit (which was white).

The band: Tony was good, in a laid-back sort of way. He stayed right in the background. He seems to have given up backing vocals and just plays now. Didn't play any solos or anything flashy. Just good playing.

Bob was brilliant. He's a lot more restrained these days and hardly runs about the stage at all. But the gestures and expressions are the same as always. And the voice.

Al (bass) and Rob (drums) Barrow... I can't really comment about. They just sort of... were there... if you see what I mean.

Paul Hodson is a great keyboard player. Unfortunately, I don't think the setlist really allowed him to show off much. He was better supporting Bob at Trillians the other week because the songs were a lot more keyboard-heavy (like old Magnum). He was best on Les Morts Dansant. Well, it's that sort of song. He also plays occasional guitar. Acoustic on ... damn, I forget what, one of the new ones, and electric (Telecaster I think) on Talks Like A Lady for a kind of Status Quo effect.

Sue McCloskey takes over from Bob to do all the rushing about the stage. I've never seen anyone smile so much (except Steve Morse) or dance and run about so much (except Bob when he was younger). They really sing well together, especially on the newest songs. And I'm not even going to mention her outfit. No, I'm not. Really. Think of sort of Deep South bordello. No, don't. Damn, I said it now. Maybe there'll be some pictures on the web site. Not that I'm going to go and look, of course.

OK, the songs: Bad news first: less and less Magnum stuff. Only Les Morts Dansant and Vigilante. Les Morts was the encore. No Spirit. No Sacred Hour. Etc., etc. Vigilante probably got the biggest reaction and everybody clapped and bounced up and down all through it in appropriate fashion.

Songs from the first album: Opened with Shame for the Bad Boy, which was probably my least favourite. Huh. Then You'd Start a Fight, which is much better. Also Looking for a Way which works really well with two singers and I Must Have Been Blind, which is superb. And... damn, I can't remember what else. Rage On, which sounds really good with the "oo-oo-ooo-oo" part. They didn't play my favourites (Stop Me From Lovin' You, Different Kind of Love). I guess they were picking the songs that worked best with two vocals.

Songs from the new album: Well, these were the highlights of the show. Did I tell you I thought the new album is better than the first? Did you buy it yet? Anyway, they played everything I hoped they would, including a couple I didn't think they would. Eat it Up (brilliant), Rock me in ya Cradle (also brilliant), No One Can Show you the Way (even more brilliant). When the Good Times Come (very very brilliant), Talks Like a Lady (beyond brilliant), An Ordinary Day (so brilliant I am running out of words. One of Tony's best ever songs and really really good live). I'm listening to it now and it really does have something indescribable. So I'm not going to try to describe it. Just buy it, ok?

No One Can Show you the Way has a big backing chorus on the album so I didn't expect it live. But they brought on seven extra backing singers (!!!) to do it and it sounded really good. An Ordinary Day was dedicated to Bob's daughter, in the audience, who was 18 that day. (This can't be the girl we saw at the 92 Christmas show, she wouldn't be old enough. So I assume he has two daughters.) Sue sang it with Bob backing and it was the best song of the night (well, except for Vigilante). She's very good.

So, I guess that's it. Some mixed feelings. I wish there were a few more Magnum songs. Well, I would settle for just The Spirit. In fact, I would have gone if they played ONLY The Spirit. Well, you know what I mean. I still wish it was Magnum. At City Hall. With Stuart. But it was a great concert and I really do like the new songs. I'm going to try to catch them when they tour again later in the year.

Whew... are you still with me?

Oh yes... they videoed the show, but only with one small camera at the front of the stage, as far as I could see, so I don't know if they will actually release it commercially (especially since they had some sound problems).

Did I mention the t-shirt? The coolest ever!!! All it has is the "HR" logo, and under it: "http://www.hard-rain.demon.co.uk". Geek t-shirt! Which only seems fair, as Annie (web site person) is the one who sells the t-shirts. (She also answers all the dumb questions I e-mail her, so I'm going to ask her about the video).

OK... the end.