Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Magnum, Newcastle Academy, Sunday 25th October 2009

Ah, Magnum. Bless 'em - they drew the short straw. Out of all of the gigs I've been to, theirs could hardly have been less conveniently placed. They chose to play Newcastle on the day the clocks went back, so I bet everyone was tired after having their body clock all screwed up. Personally, I'd had a really horrible, depressing week beforehand, and I wasn't feeling too well either. But there's no cure for the blues quite like a rock concert, is there?

I was pissed off to wake up far too early with a really sore throat. I wanted a shower but I couldn't stand to go for one feeling the way I felt, so I went downstairs and saw Amy for a bit, eating Cornflakes and drinking vanilla green tea to help my throat. We flicked through the previous day's papers and played some Magnum through my laptop before I decided I was awake and well enough to go for my shower.

I'd been thinking my outfit through for a while, and now it was time to put it on - nice blue pants, a black bra, socks patterned with heart-shaped Union flags, light blue skinny jeans, black Stonehenge shirt (Spinal Tap), black jacket and boxing boots. I squirted on lots of Emporio Armani Diamonds to make myself smell good enough to eat.

Dad had been for a bike ride, and he returned while me and Amy were lazing around downstairs. I needed to go to the supermarket and he said he'd take me, so I waited for him to get changed, donned my black trilby, and we headed out to Tesco in the Fiat.I needed cash, primarily - and the two cash machines were out of order. This completely messed up the second thing I needed - Magnum ice creams. Dad put them in the basket with lunch, and I still owe him the money for them … Stiggy and I had spent a long time choosing which ones we wanted, eventually settling on some posh ones full of chocolate, chocolate ice cream and chocolate brownie bits. They were on offer, too. Bonus!

Because we both still needed cash, we stopped at the Co-Op on the way home. I withdrew £30 to be safe.When we got home, Dad started lunch and I went upstairs to check my deviantArt messages. I managed to answer about half of them before lunch was ready - a dangerous mistake! It's either all or none, or they build up more, I find.The leek and potato soup we had soothed my throat well. I also drank one of those paracetamol drinks you make with a sachet of powder and hot water because I don't take tablets, but I felt rubbish enough to not want to feel rubbish any more. When we were done eating, I set about getting ready. This involved filling my pockets with all the necessary items - camera, spare batteries, earplugs, phone, cash, debit card, house key, tickets and, for some reason, the set list on a little piece of paper. (Yes, I looked at the set list. I'm not proud of myself, but I'm glad I did it, for reasons I will reveal later on in the story.) Dad left before we did to go for a walk somewhere with Charlotte, so he gave me another £20 for stuff for Amy and said goodbye. He seemed in a really good mood, which is always nice, especially when it's Dad. And especially when he's picking us up from a gig …

Ready way too early, I spent quite a lot of time playing solitaire and freecell on my laptop before I decided I couldn't stand it any more. We set off at quarter to two: we were meeting at two. It takes around five minutes to get there.

"There's no going back now," Amy said to me, as we walked away from the house, "If we don't know any songs, we'll just have to not know them." Or something like that, anyway.

Of course, we arrived a bit early so we sat down to wait, Magnums in hand. We played Magnum songs on our phones, and I opened the Magnum box. Each ice cream was in its own separate silver box … dead posh!

Stiggy arrived not long afterwards, so we went and paid for our tickets and sat on the platform. £11.25 for me and Amy - not as bad as I'd expected it to be! Because the train wasn't until twenty five past two, we had a bit of waiting to do. Amy and I practised our 'Bob Catley dance' - hard to describe, but watch just about any live Magnum video and the BDC will become clear. I caught my reflection in one of the shiny advert signs and realised my bottom half looked kind of like 80s Bob Catley.

The weather was miserable, eventually raining and driving us into the shelter. My throat was getting sore again - the boxed Magnum in my hand was growing more and more tempting. I decided to just have a tiny bit. Before I knew it, I was scoffing the whole thing. It was heavenly. And because Stiggy got 'food envy' she started hers too, making me feel less guilty. Amy was good. She waited.

When the train arrived, it was absolutely packed, despite being one of those epically long ones. We had a quick search for three seats somewhere near each other with no success, so we ended up standing in one of those connecty bits. Still eating our Magnums … Amy got started on hers. We were all excited, giggly and rather loud; much to the annoyance, I suppose, of the other poor people who had been reduced to standing. When we reached Darlington, Amy reckoned enough people would get off to allow us to find a seat. By this point, I'd finished my Magnum, as had Stiggy: but neither of us wanted to throw away our posh boxes! We took them with us as we searched for seats. Still, we couldn't find three together, but we were so bored of standing that we just squished onto two seats, me in the middle. I tried to fit the Magnum tickets into the Magnum box, but they were too big so I made do with putting my train ticket in there instead. Amy, in true graphics-student form, deconstructed hers to see how it fitted together. A woman who worked on the train passed us, and asked if we had any rubbish. We probably looked retarded, saying we didn't whilst playing with rubbish!

To my irritation, nobody checked our tickets! We could have ridden for free, and used the extra money for Magnum-related stuff!

The train terminated at Newcastle, meaning everyone got off. It was a huge train, and therefore somewhat hectic - this one man who passed us caught my attention, though. He was wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt that I swear he got free with an offer Classic Rock did.

Consequently, the train station suddenly filled up. Plus, we'd arrived on a platform quite far from the door. We struggled our way through the crowds, trying to make our way out. As we walked, I realised I had a bit of a problem. A problem so horrific I really can't write it here, and so horrible that I could not sort it out in public. I simply struggled with it.

Having decided the Academy management probably wouldn't allow our Magnum boxes into the gig, we chucked them away (sadly) and carried on up the street. It was cold, and windy - I kept a firm hold on my trilby as we trekked up to Beatdown Records. I was in quite a bit of pain by this point …

A visit to Beatdown always cheers me up, though. We'd been worried it'd be shut, but we were OK. We had 'til four. Having discovered the Vinyl Room on the day of the Skindred gig, Stiggy and I lead the way to show Amy. The lady we met last time was there again! She didn't recognise me at first, but after a few minutes she asked if we'd been in the shop before. I explained that me and Stiggy were indeed the girls from three Sundays ago - only this time we'd lost a Laura and acquired an Amy. She asked if we hadn't managed to convert Laura so I explained that this was a different kind of band really, and she didn't know much about them.

I could honestly spend hours and hours in that place. We chatted to the woman and browsed through records, unfortunately unable to buy any of them due to the upcoming concert. The cool thing about this shop, though, is that if you like the look of something you can put it on the turntable and play it. Much to Amy's irritation I played the Blockbuster! single. I wanted it so much … and Wig Wam Bam… Amy said afterwards that she'd wanted to put on the W.A.S.P. picture disc of Animal (F*ck Like a Beast), but had been worried about the bad language. I knew the woman in there wouldn't've minded - Laura had asked her about that sort of thing last time before recommending Steel Panther's album Feel the Steel to her.

She loved our accents, too. I called Roger Daltrey a 'little beauteh' and she commented on what I'd said. I'd said I was flattered, even though I'd been exaggerating my accent … she was from Glasgow, I think. I was gutted - after last time, Laura hadn't noticed an accent at all, I'd thought she was Irish, and Stiggy had thought she was Scottish. She was right … and I was wrong! Damn!

At about ten to four, we said goodbye and had a quick browse around the CDs. Sweet FA had gone but there were a couple of other Sweet CDs left that I drooled over, including Desolation Boulevard, before we left. The man in this part of the shop was shutting everything off, and he smiled at us as we walked out - Stiggy and I both liked him. I mean, come on! He had nice long hair …

I was reminded of my discomfort as we strolled into the city centre. Of course we still wouldn't be able to buy anything, but we love Newcastle so much that we could spend a long time simply looking. We discussed our Newcastle- and Geordie-love as we went. Of course, HMV was our first stop. Lots more Sweet to add to my music wish list … I tried not to look too hard in case I found something I so desperately wanted that I started screaming, but I had a quick dabble around the Metal section, tutted at the availability of Sonisphere t-shirts outside of Sonisphere festival, and flicked through Brian Johnson's book Rockers and Rollers. I hadn't even realised it was out yet. That's definitely going on the Christmas list …

I was kind of hoping we'd bump into the Maiden boys from the Skindred gig. Apparently they lived in Newcastle, but we had no luck.

We made our way back through Eldon Square shopping centre and to the Gate; the tall, magical entertainment complex full of various restaurants, movie quotes, and reliable toilets. Finally, I got to sort out my problem… ew. It was horrible. I won't be wearing those pants with those jeans again in a hurry …

With just over two hours until doors, we decided we might as well eat. We were hungry - I'll remind you that it felt like nearly six to us, instead of nearly five. After withdrawing an extra tenner from a Northern Rock cash machine, we went to Burger King right over the road from the Academy. I just had a chicken burger, Stiggy a bean burger meal and Amy a chicken burger meal, I think. We settled at the table with the best view of the Academy.

Hanging round on the steps outside was a bunch of teenage boys, one of which looked a lot like the blonde Maiden boy who had talked to me at Skindred. As I ate I kept a close eye on them. They appeared to be dancing. Strange …There were quite a few random songs playing in Burger King. Stiggy commented that it felt like we were in a 50s diner, and it sort of did.It was dark outside. Far too early - I felt shattered. Not ideal for a rock concert.

We finished eating a lot sooner than we'd expected. Now what to do? Most places were closed, or closing - it was a Sunday, after all. We tried to hang around for as much as possible, but when I noticed Possible Maiden Boy leaving, I insisted we went out to follow him. The weather was colder and more miserable outside.

PMB came back the other way, and passed us. Up close, I wasn't so sure it was him.

With nothing else left to do, we headed towards the Life Centre to loiter … until it started properly raining! The only shelter was to the side of the main square, sat on these big, curvy ledges that you'd slide off if you weren't careful. Dark, chilly, but dry. Stiggy got freaked out by a spider, so I sat between her and it.

There then followed forty-five minutes to an hour of random conversation as we waited for the rain to stop, which it didn't. By six it had calmed down somewhat, so we decided we'd go to the loo one last time before joining the queue. We wanted good places.

Unfortunately, we'd planned to go back into Burger King. And Burger King was shut.

As we waited to cross the road, though, one of the lads from the steps approached us.

"Excuse me, would one of yous dance with us?" he asked, in an accent that could've been Geordie or Irish, I'm not sure.

I thought quickly, laughing, "Well, we're just off to the bog, so you don't really want to dance with us," I informed him.

He saw that as fair enough, and returned to his friends. No hard feelings, then! I felt I did well - I didn't want to dance with random strangers, but I didn't want to make enemies of random strangers either. We laughed about it all the way to the Gate, where we made our second and final trip to the bathroom. Stiggy used a lot of this valuable time to hide her bag under her jacket. It took so long because she kept reckoning she looked fat. Honestly - she complains so much about girls, but then she totally is one. When we'd assured her she looked fine, we made our way back to queue.

There were only a few people there already, and there were two gigs on - Sonic Boom Six were upstairs - so it was likely some of them would be queuing for that. Especially the ones in Sonic Boom Six shirts. And then a couple in front of us left, so we moved even closer to the front.

We'd expected to be pretty much the only teenagers at Magnum, and so far, we'd been proven right. Any teens in the queue were clearly Sonic Boom Six fans - the people turning up to Magnum were mostly middle-aged male rockers, some with their partners. Most of these partners looked like rockers too; a few, however, were dressed up all smart. ? Really? To a rock concert?

I checked out some of the Magnum t-shirts that the men were wearing. They were really arty and nice. I looked forward to buying my own, predicting that it would have Into the Valley of the Moonking album art on it.

I contemplated whether or not to buy a battered Mars Bar from a nearby fast food shop. I'd planned on it and I'd been looking forward to it - now, however, I didn't see the point. I still wasn't feeling 100% and I didn't think I'd enjoy it that much.

We chatted about different bands and rock stars as we waited, playing songs on our phones. Amy talked about her W.A.S.P. excitement; Stiggy talked about her Saxon excitement. Aw, gigs are so awesome.

A woman came down the queue with leaflets for a club's Hallowe'en do. I got three by mistake.At seven, the doors opened. We filtered in gradually - it was a mark of just how "popular" Magnum are that several people bought their tickets there and then, at the box office. We were directed around these people to have our own checked, and we were in!

We went up one flight of stairs, but where the Sonic Boom Six fans continued going up, we got our tickets checked once more and got through another door, thus arriving at the main stage. Dead quiet so far - we were among the first in, after all - so after a quick glance at the t-shirt stall we ran to the front, arriving on the barrier, slightly to the right. Get in! First time on the barrier for a real band, and not just a cover/tribute act! Not that there was a great deal of competition for this prize position - we actually seemed to be attracting stares for the fuss we made. Most people were content to hang about, chilling and having drinks. And the barrier took its time to fill up.

Stiggy ruled that it would be better to buy a shirt after the show, but I was set on getting mine straight away so I didn't have to worry about it later. After instructing Amy to keep my place, I dashed back across the floor and up the steps into the bar area where the shirts were being sold. There were three types - a men's shirt with the Into the Valley of the Moonking cover on the front, a women's shirt with the word 'Magnum' on a pretty pinky-purpley cloudy thingy, and a sports style shirt. The man in the queue in front of me bought the men's one - he held it up to reveal the tour dates on the back, making my decision for me. I asked the woman for a small. Apparently the smallest they did was a medium! What? Did slim people not like Magnum?

Fortunately, I'm tall. Therefore I can just about pull off a medium men's shirt. I bought it and rushed back to the barrier.

Of course, in my absence the other barrier-dwellers had made themselves a bit more comfortable, meaning my space was now restricted. I gave Amy £20 and she ran too.

Where there had been a man to my left, there was now a young woman. She was wearing some sort of pass around her neck and carrying a digital camera.

"Have you listened to the support band on MySpace?" she asked me.

I told her I hadn't. I never do - what's the point with support bands? They rarely don't suck. Besides, the best way to judge a band is to see them live. She agreed with this, at least - she explained that she worked with the band, who were called Decadenze, and that they sounded way better live.

Amy returned with the girly shirt - no tour dates, but to be fair she would have drowned in the other one.

I got out my earplugs, ready for the support band. I've started wearing them recently because sometimes I feel like my hearing isn't as it should be, and other people agree … they're actually quite good. It's not that I don't like loud rock, but they cut out a lot of the static so the sound quality improves. However, stupidly, I dropped one on the floor at the other side of the barrier.

I could have done with them too. The choice of music was terrible, mostly miserable American wannabe-metal bands who sound like they're being forced to make rubbish music as opposed to doing it because it's awesome to play in a band. I remember hearing Stone Sour with Through the Glass. The songs played a lot like the track list of a free CD I got with one of the first ever issues of Classic Rock I bought. A couple of them had singers that sounded like Geddy Lee, but I'm pretty confident that they weren't.

A couple just down the barrier from us were acting nauseatingly mushy. The woman was leaning back on the barrier with her forehead pressed to her husband's; both of them had their eyes shut and just stood like that for ages. I mean - what? Is a Magnum concert really the time and place for slushy (sick) behaviour?

It didn't help that I was still tired out. I draped my shirt and leaflets over the barrier (which, incidentally, would fall off twice during the show. Gigs sound funny from the floor. I ended up leaving the leaflets, though…) and rested my head on them.

After what seemed like ages, Decadenze took the stage. Five men who go to the same barber and stylist - the hair was all slightly longer than the average man's, and clearly had had too much effort put into it, and every single member was wearing all black. The singer even had black nail varnish.

God knows why they were supporting Magnum. They neither looked nor sounded like Magnum fans, their music loud, shouty and generic. You know the sort I mean - so many new bands who never get further than being support acts share the same sound.

Where are all the decent bands?

I don't know what you think, but I've noticed that nowadays, anyone can sing for a band. The world is buzzing with all these new musicians - perhaps inspired by and spawned from certain guitar-based games - who can really play. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of talented drummers, bassists and guitarists around. But in this frenzy of instrumental excitement, people seem to have forgotten that bands need frontmen in order to flourish. And an arrogant arsehole who can just about carry a tune with his bland voice does not constitute a front man, despite what Decadenze think. This country has churned out some outstanding rock frontmen - has our supply really run down so fast?

Not that any of this matters. Because not even Hendrix could make a good live show out of such mediocre song writing. I mean, what is the use of having good musicians when your songs are - let's be blunt here - shit? That is another thing emerging bands tend to do wrong. Songs lack the attention-grabbing riffs needed to hold the interest of a rock crowd. Their songs just sort of happen. They start, they end. There's no substance, no structure - merely a lot of noise. If I could give bands like this one piece of advice, it would be to sort out their influences. Do their homework - the last century is full of legendary groups of all forms of rock who indeed made a lot of noise, but made it well.

Overall, Decadenze played a set full off that amateurish bull that only a support band could (just) get away with.

As if to add extra disgust, the areshole singer spat water everywhere. He was good at spitting, I'll give him that. Stiggy, Amy and I all got sprayed. Repulsed, Amy folded her arms and glared at the end of their set as everyone else applauded. For some reason, this prompted the singer to throw her his wristband. I didn't see it, but she deliberately didn't catch it, and it fell behind the barrier.

I was left wondering why Magnum had allowed such a terrible support band as Decadenze left the stage. It amazed me that the woman who'd been next to me hadn't been the only one singing along - a few of the older guys had looked like they were enjoying themselves too. They'd clearly been MySpacing … down with the kids or what? Despite the fact that the only other "kids" I'd seen, besides us, were two young lads just behind us. Man, are Magnum cool …

Venting our frustration, we bitched about Decadenze. The woman next to me left and was replaced by the original man. I told Amy who she worked for, much to her disgust. A roadie patrolling the space behind the barrier picked up the dropped wristband, and gave it to me. Fair enough … if they ever do get slightly bigger I can flog it, I guess.

This wait was horrible. We were all worn out and it felt like almost ten at night despite it not even being nine yet. I crossed my fingers at the end of every song, but nothing happened for a while. The man beside me said something that I didn't catch.One of these songs, I think, actually was Rush this time! The Big Money. That was more like it.Waiting …

Zzzzzzz …

"This is it," Amy said after a while, when quiet fell, "I can feel it."

Nope, she was wrong. Another song started up. Damn! What time was it? Just gone nine. Where the bloody hell were Magnum?

Luckily, they weren't far away.

After another song or two, the lights went from being red to pretty much non-existent as the Intro from Into the Valley of the Moonking began to play. I always forget how atmospheric concert openings are. I love them. I got my camera and began to film …

The lights came on again, dark blue this time, with little twinkling white dots dancing on the backdrop of the stage. I'd wondered why there were no pictures or anything there … Amy told me to turn round, and when I did, a beautiful sight met my eyes. Above all the dimly lit faces of the crowd, stars were swirling around on the balcony in the same deep blue light. It would have made a fantastic photo, but sadly I was still filming.

"MAGNUM!" bellowed a couple of blokes near us, dominating the whole crowd. Not for the first time, either.

One by one the band, aided by torchlight, made their way on. My concert nerves had only been slight this time - practise makes perfect, eh? But now they were eradicated completely. Amy's favourite, Mark Stanway the keyboard player … Stiggy's favourite, Tony Clarkin the guitar player … where was "mine"? Where was Bob? ( The 'mine' is in inverted commas because Amy reckons I fancy him. I don't. Really.)

Ah. I caught a glimpse of a cloud of fluffy hair just off-stage. There he was.

But when he came on just before he had to start singing, I got the shock of my life.

He looked so old. He was sixty two, granted, but something about him seemed way older. His once-blonde hair was white and his face, although the same as always, looked weary and worn. I was amazed to see how tiny he was too - shorter than the others by far, and the white shirt he was wearing swamped him.

He still had his voice, though, launching into Cry to Yourself, the song that follows the Intro (which can be a slight irritation when your mp3 player's on shuffle). I looked for the features I'd found on Amy's Live in London DVD and found that his dancing, though not quite the BCD of old, wasn't far off. He moves more now, where he used to stand pretty still. And he was still as strange as he always has been!

We were in a fantastic position for photos. I got loads and loads.They followed with my favourite song from the new album Take Me to the Edge. This one's a bit heavier, making it easier to 'get into'. And Bob looked down and gave Amy a little wave! I thought I might've imagined it, but I asked afterwards and she said she was sure of it as well. Cool!

Remember near the beginning I said, with regard to Magnum's set list, '…for reasons I will reveal later on in the story'? Well, now it's time to reveal them.Magnum appear to be one of those bands who, when they tour a new album, they tour it. Not quite as epically as Iron Maiden on the A Matter of Life and Death, tour, but the majority of the material they played came from the last few albums as opposed to the classic Magnum era and thereabouts. This was why I was glad to have taken a look at the set list - most of the Magnum I know is old, so knowing the newer songs they were going to play, I did my homework and played them on You Tube a few times. It sucks not knowing songs at gigs.

Brand New Morning was one of these songs. While singing along to the chorus, I took more photos on the bits I was shaky on.

Bob introduced the next song. I can't remember exactly how word-wise, but he was holding a little pot thing about the size of a shot glass. It had things inside it - my first thought was pills, but when Bob sprinkled the contents everywhere we discovered it was glitter! Aw, pretty. One of the evil venue security men came strode over to check it out, like it was something suspicious. Luckily, he seemed satisfied that it was merely perfectly innocent glitter.

Anyway, the song was The Moonking. No prizes for guessing which album that came from. And although it was well performed, it was the lights that really stole the show here - a huge, realistic full moon materialised on the backdrop. The lights throughout the show really were beautiful. And from the front row, it didn't even feel like we were in the dark at all.

My least familiar song next, When We Were Young. Cheesily, it got me thinking about Magnum then and Magnum now. Mainly, however, I concentrated on my photos.

I knew the next song - No One Knows His Name. Although I sang along more to the music than the words, because there are some pretty little keyboard bits in the chorus that I really love.

Bob is a very dramatic front man. He never stops moving his arms, almost acting out the words of the songs. And the fan at the front of the stage was a great help, blowing his hair all over the place.

More pretty melodies and more pretty lights with Dragons Are Real. Although Bob didn't sing some of the higher notes in the chorus the song wasn't really affected. I need to buy Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow now, even if it's just for this one track. It's so magical it sort of sweeps you in.

There followed a chilled-out from ITVOTM; A Face in the Crowd. Extremely relevant to the couple of thousand faces in that crowd that night, gazing up at Magnum in all their coloured-lit, pretty-songed glory.

We All Run presented a bit more of a beat, if a slow, steady one. It's hard to clap along, though, when you're rammed in on the barrier.

I wanted arms-in-the-air space for the next song, too, so I made use of the empty gap between the stage and the barrier. Les Morts Dansant, French for 'the dancing dead'. This was more like it: classic Magnum from my favourite Magnum album, On a Storyteller's Night. Quite a deep epic of sorts, it puts across the horrors of war. I made a short video, not wanting to spend this whole song holding my camera steady.

As it was possibly my most familiar song of the show, I could judge it better as a live performance, and it was spot on. Bob got really 'into' it, and it gave an atmosphere that I'm sure everyone could feel. The two "MAGNUM!" blokes kept filling in words in the chorus, even when they didn't have to:

"What a night though it's one of seven…"


They were actually pretty funny …

At the end of the song, Bob apologised, I think, for getting emotional.They turned upbeat again for the happy All My Bridges, lifting spirits all around. Followed by another 'all' song (they seem to have a few) All England's Eyes. Yes - another oldie! I shone. I'm such an old man at heart. I had a lot of fun during this tune.

And then - another oldie! Get in! The title track from their Vigilante album, which I'd just bought Stiggy on vinyl for her birthday. Not that Bob really said the word very much: he started with "Vigi-" and we'd finish "-Lante!"

They seemed to be going out on some heavy tracks after Les Morts Dansant. Yes, going out. After Vigilante Bob said goodbye, and they exited stage left. But obviously, we weren't going to leave. After all, how many bands don't do encores?We stood around cheering and whistling for a bit. A couple of smattered-around chants of "Magnum! Magnum!" started up, but no one seemed to be able to keep in time with one another so we reverted to the general cheering.

According to Guitar Hero, you're not supposed to write your encore on your set list, because then your fans will know you planned it. Makes sense - encores are meant to be earned.

So why do bands write their encores on their set lists? I could see one on the stage. There were two songs written at the end, and two lines down from the rest.Sure enough, Magnum returned, much to our delight. The lights turned a fiery reddy-orange as they began the creepy intro to Don't Wake the Lion. Bob kept moving his fan, and leaning over it to cool down.I don't know this song very well, but it was very effective live - the music and lights combined made for a brilliant show, and I spent quite a lot of time concentrating on taking photos - mainly of Bob, but also of Tony and Alan, the bass player.

The final song came after this lengthy epic - Kingdom of Madness. Everyone knows this song. (By 'everyone', I mean among Magnum fans, of course…) It drew us in with the heavy beginning, then got us all singing during the contrasting tuneful chorus. Knowing it was the end made me enjoy myself even more, even though after two bands I was absolutely shattered. The line 'and a lovely time is had by all' made a lot of sense right then.

But the show wasn't over then - "It's meet the band time," Bob announced, proceeding to go through everyone and finishing, of course, on Tony Clarkin - "He has all the songs for Magnum, and of course for you." Tony really is a great songwriter. And he gave me a thumbs-up! I made eye contact with him, cheering, and he smiled. That made me happy, as he's not that smiley a man.

The lights came on again pretty much as soon as they left, a new song starting up over the sound system that I knew, but could never name, which is still doing my head in now - it sounded like a cross between AC/DC and Magnum, and the chorus had a slowish 'yeah yeah yeah' line.

The crowd filtered out quite quickly. Stiggy bought her shirt - the girl's one - before we left the main stage. And it seemed Sonic Boom Six were done too, because emoish teens were trickling from upstairs.Where Dad usually waits, though, there was no one. Well - plenty of rockers hanging around, of course, but no Dad. Admittedly we were about ten minutes earlier out than we'd expected to be, so we waited for a moment.

As I had a bit of change, I went to the fast food place for a can of Coke, and we returned to the meeting place. A couple of blokes were having a conversation that included Whitesnake and Gary Moore."

I heard Whitesnake! I like Whitesnake!" Amy cried.

"I heard Gary Moore! I like Gary Moore!" I added. However, I hadn't seen him live, where I had, of course, seen Whitesnake, as I pointed out.

Dad and Charlotte rounded the corner not long afterwards. We headed off with them to the car, ready to begin our detailed verbal assessment of the gig. This, of course, included a rant about the awful support band. But mainly we talked about Bob. He honestly has to be the weirdest front man I've ever seen: Stiggy was actually wondering if he was on drugs, he just seemed so spaced out. I reckon he's just kind of strange anyway. He liked to bow and blow kisses out across the crowd - a tad flamboyant, perhaps, if that's the right word?

We discussed much random crap on the way home, including X Factor - Stiggy's mum texted her to tell her that the twins were still in, much to all of our disgust. We don't like the twins. We really don't.Conversation kept flowing quite well. The DJ on the radio played the song Forever Autumn from Jeff Wayne's The War of the Worlds, which Dad and Charlotte both love, but find kind of sad. Stiggy gets annoyed with it - she used to have a teacher who made her type to the WOTW music. But eventually we couldn't avoid our sleepiness. The car was wonderfully warm and comfortable as we travelled smoothly home, first dropping off Charlotte, then Stiggy.

We went to bed pretty much the minute we got in. I thanked Dad for picking us up - it should be the last time for a while! - and headed upstairs. I stuck my ticket up with all my others, right beside my signed Skindred one. I got my Pjs on, laid out my big t-shirt to wear the next day, and got into bed.Diary entry that night/early next morning:

'Magnum Sunday 25

There's nothing like a great trip to Newcastle to cure them blues, is there? Even when you can't buy anything, because it generally means you're going to a gig. We got the train and ate Magnum ice creams on the way there, then went to speak to the cool lady in the record shop. We looked in HMV and had tea in Burger King. It rained. We hid under shelter outside the Life centre. Then we went to the Academy to see Magnum! My God, I was absolutely amazed by how old Bob Catley looks. It's like he's a completely different person to how he used to be.'

So yeah - Bob got old. But people do. And when it comes to rock 'n' roll, age comes quicker, it seems. However, what really matters is their ability to keep pumping out great tunes. Therefore Magnum still rock - even though I would've loved to hear more classic stuff, the songs they did play they played flawlessly.

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