Magenta Live Spring 2005

Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, Rotherham 16 April 2005
Rites of Spring Festival, Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville, PA 30 April 2005
DVD Shoot, The Pop Factory, Porth, South Wales 14 May 2005

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Reviews © Stephen Lambe and Russ Elliot 2005
Images © Stephen Lambe 2005
Last updated: 10 July 2005

In Spring 2005, Magenta truly came of age as a live act. Five concerts over a six week period may not seem much to some hard-touring bands, but for Magenta, whose live career has been notoriously stop-start over the last two and a half years, it represents quite an achievement.

With the intention of developing a full two hour plus set, the band warmed up with a two hour concert at the Pop Factory in Porth, South Wales. This was followed by a triumphant appearance supporting The Flower Kings a few days later at The Borderline in Central London, where they played an hour set, winning many new admirers in the process.

This meant that by the time that they made their third appearance at Herringthorpe Leisure Centre in Rotherham on 16th April, they were pretty well rehearsed and ready to play a full set to a decent sized Saturday night audience. And an excellent performance it indeed was with the band clearly enjoying themselves hugely.

Of particular musical note was the revival of the full-length version of "Children of the Sun" alongside the full "White Witch," with Chris Fry at his most showman-like, wandering into the audience during his solo. The band are now, wisely, opening with the relatively breezy "King of the Sky," before launching into the live favourite "Gluttony," which suffered slightly in 2004 by being the set opener, and played before the band had fully got into its stride.

Also in the set were two excellent new pieces form the forthcoming Home album. The Genesis-influenced "Demons" was played early in the set, with the more aggressive "Overture" played later. The band also encored with an entertaining version of Renaissance's (website) "Northern Lights," intended as a run through for a performance at ROSfest, which, as it turned out, wasn't played during the band's set. The band did, however perform the song at the after-show party, for those that were lucky enough to witness it.

The band's triumphant performance of their two hour-plus performance at ROSfest on April 30th was introduced by the legendary Annie Haslam. The band were late replacements for Mostly Autumn as festival headliners. Magenta clearly brought down the house in their first American performance outside Philadelphia, the long-standing mecca of the northeast for this style of progressive music. Philadelphia music enthusiasts have long been avid supporters of Renaissance and Annie Haslam. It is no wonder that Magenta and especially Christina were so well received by the packed house. It is a shame that the previouisly rumored duet on "Northern Lights" in the main set was cancelled at the 11th hour.

The band came full circle on May 14th with another concert at The Pop Factory, Porth. This time, however, it was to record the band's first DVD. Arriving late afternoon, we made our way to the TV studio area of the complex, where the band were shooting additional footage and close ups to drop into the main concert video to be recorded in front of a live audience later that evening. It became immediately apparent that this was to be something special. The sound was loud yet simply superb--crystal clear with each instrument beautifully balanced. The lights were stunning, as was the video backdrop, with simple, yet effective ambient footage adding plenty of atmosphere.

This atmosphere was further enhanced by the arrival of the audience, seated at candlelit tables, who greeted the band to a huge reception. Playing the set in two halves, so that the camera crew could reload, it became quite clear that this was the pinnacle--better, even, than their stunning ROSfest performance--of their live performances. Here, the emphasis was on accuracy rather than extravagance--no wanderings from Chris Fry this time--but the band were tight and confident. Backing vocals were delivered with enthusiasm and precision, Christina connected with the audience, as she always does, and brought plenty of real passion to her singing. The final song of the evening was "Pride" now establishing itself as the perfect, exuberant encore.

So, the current phase of Magenta’s existence has come to a close. With Home planned for released later in the year, and talk of other songs from Seven returning to the live set, who knows what pleasures Magentas live concerts will reveal in the future. However, for sheer emotion, not to mention the pleasure of witnessing a band really fulfilling its promise as a live act, these concerts have been events that will linger long in the memory. .

Spring 2005 Tour Repertoire: "Children of the Sun", "The White Witch", "Children of the Sun", "Man and Machine", "Genetesis", "Gluttony", "Pride," "Anger" (arranged for classical guitar and voice), "Demons," "Overture," "I'm Alive," "King of the Sky," "Broken," "Call Me," "Northern Lights."

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