Saturday, February 14, 2009

Magazine and Howard Devoto; Still Sitting Pretty On The Permafrost

North London, Kentish Town, Friday 13th February 2009. The ticket touts are out in full force trying to buy spare tickets for Magazine's first London concert together since 1980.

Howard Devoto (vocals), Dave Formula (keyboards), Barry Adamson (bass) and John Doyle (drums) - the four original members from Magazine, and new guitarist 'Noko' are back in London to perform their second concert in 29 years (the night before they played a warm up show in Oxford).

The scene is intense; the 2,750 capacity venue is so packed to the gills, people are left standing in the aisles on the second floor. You can feel the tension in the air. A few minutes before the band take to the stage the warm up intermission music consists of Simple Minds' 'I Travel' and David Bowie's 'Low' instrumental 'Speed of Life'.

The moment when Magazine walk on stage, the crowd goes nuts. The applause lasts for 3 minutes. Devoto walks out sporting a white dinner jacket, knee length trousers and slip on running shoes. He looks like a cross between Lex Luthor, Otto Preminger and Humpty Dumpty (I saw this in the nicest sense). His stage persona has mellowed but the drama still prevails. The crowd is in awe, and rightfully so.

The one hour and fifteen minute set is short but to the point and doesn't dissapoint. The song choices are eclectic. The band perform songs from their 1978 debut album 'Real Life'. The hypnotise the audience with 'Definite Gaze', 'The Light Pours Out Of Me', and they work the crowd into a frenzy with 'Shot By Both Sides'.

While the concert continues, you can't help but wonder why Magazine didn't reform sooner. The evocative 'Parade' calms the crowd with a sense of mystery as Devoto sings "It's so hot in here, what are they trying to hatch."

And now that Howard's "out of touch with anger," - anything is possible.

The band continue their aural assault with songs from the 'Secondhand Daylight' album with the infectious full-throttle rendition of 'Rhythm of Cruelty', as song which Devoto pays tribute to the late guitarist John McGeoch, who died in 2004. The concert rolls on with more songs from 'Daylight' including 'I Wanted Your Heart' and the menacing 'Permafrost'.

Surprisingly, the band performed songs from their underrated 1980 album 'The Correct Use Of Soap', kicking off with a frenzied, energetic version of 'Because Your Frightened, then straight into 'Model Worker', 'You Never Knew Me', 'I Want To Burn Again' and the ever-popular 'A Song From Under The Floorboards'.

The band return for their first encore with an ominous version of the Sly and the Family Stone 'Thank You (Faletin Me Be Mice Elf Again)'. A standing ovation ensues, the band leave the stage, and return for a second encore with the Captain Beefhart classic 'I Love You, You Big Dummy'.

Barry Adamson is like the rock of the band with pulsating bass heavy rhythms, while Dave Formula sets the pace and setting with magnificent keyboard textures and melodies. Devoto prances around the stage like he owns it but is oblivious to the trappings of rock and roll cliches.

The concert is a testament to a band that meant more than the sum of their parts. Their contribution to music has been missed by many, and so, as you can well imagine, seeing Magazine perform for the first time in almost 30 years, was an unforgettable experience for all.

The band bow to the enthusiastic crowd.

The lights go down to the sound of Simple Minds' 'Themes For Great Cities'. The crowd empties out on to the street.

The rest is history.

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