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  Manchester Academy  
  Machester, England  
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  
Performance Rating:
Sound Quality:
Overall Rating:

I never thought I'd see the day. The legendary Magazine back together and live on-stage! But then suddenly, something like twenty-seven years after their final album and three or four years after the death of their guitarist John McGeoch, rumours suddenly emerged from nowhere. They were reforming. "No way" was obviously the initial common consensus, but the rumours gathered momentum, and suddenly tickets were on sale. In a manner of speaking, the wait seemed like it was only just beginning!

Of course, reforming a band with Magazine's kudos could always prove to be a risky business. After all this is a band with one of the finest back catalogues ever (and I mean EVER!), but by this date, the third or fourth gig of this short comeback tour, the word was already out. We weren't about to be disappointed!

And we weren't. Now I know my daughter says I've got thousands of songs in my all time top ten, but The Light Pours Out Of Me is genuinely in it and after opening with this classic glam stomp, I could quite happily have gone home a happy man there and then. And they more than did it justice with John Doyle's drums sounding positively thunderous before Howard Devoto, the man we had all come to see, opened his mouth and out came that weird distinctive snarl. It was a great opener, paving the way for respectful applause that went on for some time - reminiscent of the way a Sparks audience behaved when I saw the Mael brothers perform This Town Ain't Big Enough live a few years ago.

After this, we got a set that that drew on all four of their albums (including the disappointing last one, Magic Murder & The Weather). Highlights included Because You're Frightened ("I love this riff," said Devoto), Definitive Gaze (which again resulted in respectful applause) and Permafrost which is, of course, such an awesome track. And even though stand-in guitarist Noko maybe didn't quite nail the intensity of McGeoch's unforgettable work on this one, it was still great to hear it live. This is to take nothing away from Noko, however, as he really did do a fine job. I'd heard varying reports, but I was hugely impressed with the way he replicated McGeoch's licks and added a few of his own. Seeing as McGeoch is no longer with us and Howie's brief tribute to him brought a tear to the eye - I honestly can't see anyone doing a better job than the former Luxuria man did tonight.

A quick word for the rhythm section, too: Doyle is a much more powerful drummer than I expected for some reason and Barry Adamson played some of the deepest bass notes you'll ever hear. I could feel them in my legs! The one minor gripe (other than certain numbers like Sweetheart Contract and Give Me Everything missing how I would have loved to hear Adamson playing that bass riff live!) was Dave Formula's work on keyboards. He was great on the synth, but some of the stuff with the electric piano sound was rather intrusive (and it must be said occasionally "off"). And I really didn't like the shrilly sound of it at times.

But really, this is such a minor complaint, I almost feel unreasonable making it. They ended the set with the place it all began their debut 45 Shot By Both Sides, which still has one of the best guitar riffs I have ever heard. They encored with Thank You (Falletin Be Mice Elf Agin), which saw the top-hatted Adamson sitting down as he pumped out that funk, somehow managing to look even cooler than he did when he was standing. I can assure you was no mean achievement. Motorcade followed and showed the band's sense of dynamics to the full and featured a classic Adamson bassline that brought to mind Joy Division and made me think that a certain young Peter Hook had been listening to this more closely than I previously thought. And then after an I Love You Big Dummy with Howie going all falsetto it was over. Alas...

However, in case you think this was just about some old blokes standing around whilst very earnest post-punk music played, let me add this. As someone who grew up in the late 60s and early 70s watching Saturday night variety on the telly, I am enough of a connoisseur of these things to appreciate Devoto's performance to the fabulous Definitive Gaze. Take it from me, the sight of a bald headed man in his fifties rushing about the stage in a light pink jacket, arms out-stretched in what can best be described as a cross between an 8 yr old kid playing aeroplanes in a school yard and someone old enough to know better attempting some weird Swan Lake-like routine, was Saturday evening viewing of the highest order. As Devoto's miserable, middle aged contemporary Paul Weller said when he knew about these things, "That's entertainment!"

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