What drives musical legends to risk sullying their heritage by reforming and reliving past glories is often unclear. Whether a mid-life crisis prompts bands to hit the chicken-in-a-basket circuit, or if it’s a need to release a logjam of creativity, there have been a plethora of acts revisiting their pasts of late.
And Magazine joined this crew recently. At first a simple Hits package, then one of those “classic album” sets for The Correct Use of Soap, the 5-piece have taken the plunge and released their first new material in 30 years, with their fifth studio album, No Thyself.
The album is already out and has received almost unanimously positive reviewws – albeit mainly from writers who were around to see and hear thre band first time round.
It’s likely that this crowd have already seen the new-look band live – though there’s a slight change as Devoto announces “Magazine version 6.0, Service Pack 2” – with a new face on bass, former Groove Armada man Jon “Stan” White who meets the challenge of filling Barry Adamson’s shoes. His guitar is prominent in the classic trio that kicks the set off – a rattling ‘Definitlive Gaze’, followed by ‘Give Me Everything’ and ‘Motorcade’ which already signal an epic gig in the making. Devoto is of course centre stage, throwing out obscure asides, and waving a couple of curious oversized placards, one which reads “YOU do the meaning” (a title from the latest album, or something deeper?)
Ah yes, the new album. My own exposure has been the 30 second clips on Amazon – and sounding great, but it’s no real way to judge.
And after this evening I’m none the wiser, as the band decide that despite a devoted audience for what’s a real shop window opportunity, they play a mere three songs from it. On first (proper) hearing these slot in quite well – they’re no classics (yet) but could easily hold their own against the (also ignored tonight) fourth album Magic Murder And The Weather. ‘Holy Dotage’ is perhaps the standout, with what seems like a potentially stodgy guitar line rescued by the sheer presence of Devoto and his lyrics, which show no sign of losing his acerbic wit or sinister wordplay.
Aside from that it is really a Hits set – which to be fair is what the majority of the crowd came for – the dark 80s pop of ‘A Song From Under the Floorboards’, a speedy ‘Philadelphia’ which gets the creaking bones of the older elements of the audience moving, and Noko making a fine fist of John McGeoch’s spiralling guitar line on ‘Rhythm Of Cruelty’. Devoto is imperious in the spotlight centre stage, like Oliver musing “I’m not sure… have we had enough songs about the wrong kind of sex?” before ‘Permafrost’s icy tones match the song’s lyrical chill (even if it does appear that yet again, one of Dave Formula’s keyboards has been unplugged since 1982).
As the gig careers towards a surprisingly early close (yes, club night in Glasgow), the band fully relive their past, with unsurpassable versions of ‘Shot By Both Sides’, ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’ and as a final encore, Beefheart’s ‘I Love You, You Big Dummy’ wheeled out to unsurprising audience acclaim. Again, nothing else from the new album, but with a back catalogue as good as theirs, who’s going to argue. No Thyself? Know Thy Audience, more like.
Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.