Saturday, 22nd March 2008
The Pop Factory, Porth, South Wales
Article By John Morley
Live photos by Chris Walkden
The launch party for Magentaís latest CD Metamorphosis was on Saturday night at the Pop Factory in Porth, Wales.
Before we get to the gig, I just wanted to say I was lucky enough to be at a get together with the band the night before (Thanks again, Tina!), which gave me the opportunity to meet the two new members of the band, Colin Edwards (formerly of Ezra) on second guitar, and young Kieran Bailey. Great to meet the guys and chat before seeing them perform.
Even better, at the venue on Sat the new CD was on sale, along with the new style t shirts (two of 'em), and key rings.
Before the main gig on Saturday there was an acoustic performance by Tina, Rob, Chris and Dan, playing a few of Tina's solo songs (from a forthcoming solo album), a cover of Hounds Of Love, the single Speechless and eventually...a snippet of Man The Machine from Revolutions. I say eventually because Tina dried completely after the first line, and tried two more attempts before giving up and someone handing a copy of the CD cover with the lyrics on to give her a refresher - but it was very entertaining and she was endearingly sheepish about it all ("Bollocks" indeed, Tina!), and she did manage to perform it in the end. And to be fair, this song has not been played live for a very long time, and considering Tina had the whole of the new albums lyrics to memorise ready for this evening as well, somewhat understandable.
A bit of a breather, a bit of dry ice to set the mood and the stage was set for the premiere of the new album its entirety. And a pretty interesting looking stage at that, bathed in red and with hooks and chains hanging up, echoing the album cover.
And boy did they hit the stage with a bang...it was loud! Drums were a little overpowering, and Tina's vocals could have been a bit louder for me, but otherwise absolutely no complaints - Tina looked...different, even a little scary with darker-than-usual makeup and a new outfit. I like this theatrical side of the band, and Tina as always 'inhabits' the characters of the songs she is singing.
The new stuff is quite powerful, intense, intricate but very appealing material. New drummer Kieran is a force of nature, a different style of playing to previous drummers, much more aggressive. Colin at this point is primarily just providing rhythm guitar with the occasional solo, though I am sure when the proper gigs start his role will be expanded. But he proved himself no slouch; he knows his way around a guitar, that's for sure.
But the new material really kicked butt, knocking you right to the back wall of the venue. It was quite an onslaught! Lots of hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck moments, particularly during the opener Ballad of Samuel Layne, the epic title track, and the crunching guitars of closing track Blind Faith.
Rob Reed seemed to have just the right keyboard patches to effectively cover the orchestral arrangements of the album, and guitarist Chris Fry is now over to the right of the stage, giving bass man Dan Fry free rein to jump all over the stage without knocking into his brother. The bass lines on the new material are fairly intricate but Dan seemed to cover them effortlessly.
As well the new album, we also got the stunning Gluttony, with Kieran really helping to bring the song to life with some excellent fills, and a passionate, powerful reading of I'm Alive as encores.
Effectively, this was just a small showcase gig for the fans at a relatively small venue - but when the band get out and start doing the full-on concert experience with bigger stages, better sound, room to expand on the theatrical element then this is truly going to be a new era for the band.
Hounds Of Love
Man The Machine (excerpt)
The Ballad Of Samuel Layne