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Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: Magenta

Magenta, The Globe Cardiff

This was the first of three special nights for Welsh prog band Magenta, it saw them play a special set of shows where they would play two albums back-to-back. The two records chosen was their most recent opus We Are Legend and perhaps their finest hour Seven. The band took to the stage and explained the idea behind the two albums in full concept as singer Christina had a note of self depreciating trepidation in her voice about what they were about to do, (namely launch into the full version of Trojan for the first time), so to get their arm in so to speak they opened with Speechless to warm themselves and the crowd up. Remember folks they were about to play their most recent album which is about 50 minutes and only three tracks long in its entirety. As the drums were counted in the monstrous Trojan filled the room with Magenta’s most recent probably densest music to date, The Globe allowing every single note to be heard from every instrument, the bass plucked with technicality, the drummer (rightly behind a screen) bashing away while Rob Reed kept everything in check with his wall of synth.

This meant that Christina could use her breathtaking vocals to woo the audience with emotion and it let Chris Fry do more than merely keep a rhythm as he elected to do the full guitar hero shtick, especially on the latter more melodious half of the evening. Trojan ended and as Christina joked about not talking until the audience had finished applauding they once again geared up for the long haul with Colours and Legend coming next both songs come in at about 21 minutes so when there was little break in the action for the special guest flautist and oboist to take to the stage it was a welcome rest from the, admittedly marvellous, but exhausting musical dexterity on display (no wonder Chris worked his way through a banana in the changeover). Stools and acoustics started to move around and Magenta once again paced the set by playing a folky acoustic number to settle the guest players and once again refocus the crowd. It was gorgeous number that echoed the lighter moments of Mike Oldfield. Once this was over there was an anticipation in the air, much of this album hasn’t been played in long time so Christina once again asked in advance for forgiveness if anything went wrong (albeit slightly tongue-in-cheek) she also was pleased that she didn’t have to tell anyone to “Shut the fuck up” this time. However there were a collection of folks on the balcony with me that deserved the tongue lashes as they talked incessantly mainly through the more reflective moments.

Then it was time for Seven in full but not necessarily in the right order as Mr Morecambe would put it as is only right it started out with Gluttony which has lots of swirling synth and poppy melodies. It’s with just this song you can hear why Magenta are so loved by their crowd, their songs are classic prog with the style of Yes, Oldfield and Genesis, the technical acumen of the band never outshining the songwriting, they worked through Envy and the stunning Lust as things once again slowed for Anger a truly wonderful song that really showcased the flute and oboe for a whimsical folk moment in amongst all the progressive mastery. The main set ended with the tribal sounds of Sloth on which Chris had his guitar hero moment I mentioned before, playing his guitar as if it owed him something, it was a stunning climax to the evening and rightfully so they hit the backstage for the customary break before the encore. Coming back onto the stage the last two tracks were Glitterball and the one song from Seven that was not in the main set, ending the night with the brilliant Pride. It was another fantastic gig from Magenta who continually impress as a live act. A great Friday was had by all! 9/10

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