MAGNUM - Livin’ The Dream - 1978-2005
(SPV - 2005)

More or less a sworn Magnum-aniac since the age of fourteen, I can safely say I was not alone being disappointed in their tour this year, in celebration of ‘On A Storyteller’s Night’ having been on the shelves for twenty years, taking only a couple of dates or so (not including Sheffield.) That full-length stretch of footage from said gigs was then put out on this DVD is a more than due debt to the many disappointed at the chance they were forced to miss out on.

Gliding in with Brand New Morning’, this is a less than likely number for Brit melodic rock’s No1 sons to start with but the crowd here have no excuse to stand there gormless and are singing their socks off from the start. The first leg of a two-part, and almost two hour set, only one other newie ‘We All Run’ shows up, the remaining six songs of this period exclusively from 1978-86 matter. Er, yes, one must admit, it seems strange to have old favourites like ‘Back Street Kid’, ‘Vigilante’, ‘The Spirit’, ‘Kingdom Of Madness’, ‘Sacred hour’ and a stunning ‘Soldier Of The Line’ all this early in the evening but remember this is being used to warm them up for what is to come. Bob Catley announces they’ll be back after a fifteen minutes, though we meanwhile jump that plus an additional 24 hours to the following night’s show, the second of two in London Astoria to rejoin the action.

Catley introduces the second phase of the set as “20 years of memories - 20 years of ‘….Storyteller’s Night’” and you’ve guessed what’s next as the boys tear into the as promised full play-through of what many believe to be their finest hour (well three quarters of…). ‘How Far Jerusalem’, ‘Just Like An Arrow’ and the title tune are three concrete cornerstones of any show Bob, Tony and co do and hearing all three back to back is a rare privilege to treasure.

‘Les Morts Dansant’ completes the top four with those, one of the greatest ever melodic rock ballads penned, but separating it of course is ‘Before First Light’, the first of the other numbers that hold much anticipation tonight. Of itself, ‘Endless Love’, ‘Two Hearts’ and ‘Steal Your Heart’ at least two have never seen any onstage renditions but boy do they sound incredible tonight, Tony Clarkin clearly having practised them over the past two decades in the hope that one day he could sweet talk Bob into sticking them on the list., as he plays them note for note. ‘All England’s Eyes’ deserves to be as much a regular on the typical Magnum set as the other staples and in my opinion, and not that alone, is one of Tony’s finest compositions.

All five then temporarily vacate the boards, though bassist/resident band comedian Al Barrow returns wielding a camcorder, and demanding some noise be made on the other side of the barrier, sort of giving away the fact that tonight’s proceedings are to be seen by more than just these in the room. The reappearance of Bob reminds Al and everyone, even though we probably don’t need to be, that there is still a song left, hence fag lighters ahoy as they sail through an emotional ‘The Last Dance’, that ‘e ‘ word summing up this show for about everyone who walked in through that door tonight…. and the night before.

And that is just one disc. Anyone lucky - or should that be wise - to invest in this ultra-special piece of Magnum mileage will also find a second spinner clobbered with about all any fan old or in most cases new needs to know about these legends. Videos to their top 8 hit singles, 1 hour plus of natters from Messrs Clarkin, Catley, Barrow and Stanway (these ARE worth listening to, by the way), an entertaining tour documentary with Al, an exclusive acoustic performance of ‘The Spirit’ by just the two main men, plus hidden bonuses make this the ultimate Christmas present for those even just begging to explore the works of Brum’s finest.

Their greatest on-screen offering since ‘Hammersmith 88’, ‘Livin’ The Dream’ is the story of one come very true. Treat yourself, if not someone else too, and live it… in your living room (or wherever you put the TV, in your house)…. and with a bit of luck, and the money they spin out of this one, they might also – I hope - consider doing the same with ‘Wings Of Heaven’ in a couple of years time.

Unbelievable stuff.


By Dave Attrill

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