A Well-Deserved Reformation
When I told them that I was going to see Magazine, I have to admit that a very large amount of my friends decided to tactfully point out that since guitarist John McGeoch sadly died in 2004, a reformation was fairly pointless. Luckily I had more hope and found myself very pleasantly surprised by the band’s energised, and maybe even rejuvenated performance, the only hint that this was a band whose heyday was over 20 years ago was in the average age of the audience.
The band immediately cut an impressive image onstage with bassist Adamson and new guitar Noko clad in vibrant red and black suits, while Howard Devoto rushes around the stage with forceful presence in a white tuxedo jacket. The tour being in support of the Touch and Go anthology, the band roll out the hits, kicking off with, ‘The Light Pours Out Of Me’ after which it seems that the applause will never stop for long enough for the band to move onto the next tune. ‘Model Worker’ sounds fabulous with bright keyboard glissandos, while it’s not long before Devoto drags one of the lovely identical ladies of support band Ipso Facto on stage to add some vocal harmonies, between her parts she sits reading a magazine nonchalantly with Devoto theatrically conducts the rest of the band like an invigorated circus master, enthralled by his own power. There are plenty more unconventional twists to the evening, the band come onstage to a prolonged spoken word piece with literary allusions, which comes to the conclusion that all rock bands should make, "But on a more practical level, I'm doing this because there's this woman I need to impress." Devoto is left onstage to perform a poem about entering Hell, which is backed with a spooky, atmospheric keyboard tune, unfortunately it’s interrupted by one unsavoury member of the audience heckling, and his companion trying in vain to explain that “it’s about the art”. Without the art, Magazine could be just another reformed middle-aged rock band, but their spiralling electro keyboards, quirky asides and poetic allusions raise them above this.
‘A Song From Under The Floorboards’ is naturally very well received, with a jazzy keyboard solo spicing it up and an introduction about Devoto’s doctor diagnosing him with, “beating heart disease”. The pairing of this song, arguably the band’s most famous, with ‘Permafrost’ is a fabulous one and enough to bring the packed house down only half way through the show. ‘Permafrost’ reaches its gloriously chilling heights and successfully manages to jam the wonderfully inappropriate lyric, “I will drug you and fuck you on the permafrost” in my head for long enough to ensure that people in the streets will be giving me odd looks every time I sing under my breath for the next week.
It’s amazing just how strong the band’s back catalogue still sounds, from the offkilter and quirky, ‘Parade’ to the glorious and climactic, ‘I Want To Burn Again’, which sounds rapturous live with an added guitar solo and the razorsharp, ‘Shot From Both Sides’ with its raunchy and rambunctious bassline that shudders through the hall. This is a well-deserved and superbly executed reformation, let’s hope that a few young people managed to afford the ticket prices and got a top class musical education that will ensure Magazine’s legacy lives on.