O2 Academy, Newcastle

22 May 2016

"Sing," says Bob. We already are. Every word. Because that's what Magnum gigs are like. I don't know any other audience atmosphere that matches it. We sing, clap for nearly two hours, and jump up and down on command. I'll even wave my arms in the air, which I think is really silly and I won't do it for anyone but Bob. Because that's what Magnum gigs are like, and have been for all the 30 years I've been going to them.

The support band, Vega, are great. I read a review recently that said they are pure 80s' rock with sing-along choruses and widdly-woo guitar solos, and that's exactly what they are, and that's just brilliant, that's a perfect warm-up for a band like Magnum. Vega deliver a polished and energetic set and really do everything you could want from a support band, they have the type of songs you want to clap and sing along to even though you've never heard them before. It's the best crowd reaction for a support band that I've seen in a long time.

Magnum come on to an intro tape and beautiful lights and (of course) plenty of smoke, and open with two of their best-loved songs, Soldier of the Line and On a Storyteller's Night. After a pairing like that, we're in the palm of their hands and they can do no wrong, so they launch into a long run of recent material, including a huge chunk of the new Sacred Blood, Divine Lies album. And, honestly, the new material is so strong it doesn't need propping up with the old. I measure Magnum gigs by the point at which I'm crying, and it's usually The Spirit or something like that, but here it's Your Dreams Won't Die, because, oh my God, it's just a perfect Magnum song. Seventeen albums under his belt and Tony Clarkin is still the consistently best rock song writer in the world.

For Soldier, Bob actually sounded a bit rough and I was worried that age had finally caught up with him, but by Storyteller's he had "warmed up" and for the rest of the night sounded as good as ever, and ok he's maybe bouncing around the stage a little less than the old days, but still has more energy than anyone who's (mumble mumble) years old has any right to have.

So, loads of new songs, all the "big" songs from Storyteller's, Soldier, Vigilante, and an encore of The Spirit and Kingdom of Madness, played by a band that's playing as good as, or maybe better than, they ever have, and a room full of the best crowd you'll ever stand in. What more could you ever want?

Best concert I've ever seen. That's what Magnum gigs are like.