Magazine - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
Magazine front man Howard Devoto was a founding member of Buzzcocks, leaving the band before the release of their second single in 1977, forming Magazine a few months later. The band were one of the most high profile post-punk bands of their time with Top of The Pops and Old Grey Whistle Test appearances under their belts and released four critically acclaimed albums before they went their separate ways in 1981.
Magazine reformed in 2008, a reunion that saw Devoto joined by Dave Formula on keyboards, Barry Adamson on bass, drummer John Doyle and guitarist Noko replacing original member John McGeoch as he sadly passed away in 2004. The group took to the road for the first time in decades the following year, producing a successful tour, leading to more dates under the banner The Soap Show where the band performed their album The Correct Use Of Soap in full to captivated crowds.
Magazine released a completely new studio album No Thyself in October, arranging an extensive tour of the UK to promote it, including a show at London's Shepherds Bush Empire.
I've been a fan of the band since around the time of the release of their debut single, with The Correct Use Of Soap one of my favourite albums of all time and a collection that still gets aired on a regular basis, so I was extremely happy to get the opportunity to photograph their SBE gig, especially as I'd missed their previous shows in the capital due to other commitments.
The majority of the group took to the stage around nine, striking up the intro to first album opener "Definitive Gaze", including new member Jon "Stan" White replacing Adamson on bass, with Devoto appearing just in time to snarl out the first verse's lyrics, delivering a powerful performance, making me wish I'd caught the reunion a lot sooner.
The current tour mixes old faves with a handful of tracks from the band's current release, songs that don't seem to have gravitated too far from the original Magazine blueprint and could have come from the same era as the first four albums but still managing to sound current like "Happening in English" and "The Worst of Progress", which featured early in the set.
Devoto was fairly vocal throughout the show, addressing the audience on most occasions between songs, letting us know the current line up of Magazine was version 6.0, service pack 1 just before a blistering take on single "Give Me Everything" and joking about how hard it was to make the new album.
One thing that did confuse me was his intro to new track "Hello Mr. Curtis (with apologies)". Howard introduced the song with ""Rest In Peace Elvis Presley. Rest In Peace Ian Curtis. Rest In Peace Kurt Cobain and a personal dedication to the writer Terry Pratchett. This had me scratching my head a bit as I wasn't sure if the author had died that day or not?! The annoying thing was I couldn't check out the news on my phone as I was trying to avoid the result of the Thursday night Big Brother eviction so it niggled me for a hour or so but I did eventually find out that he was still with us. Phew!
Although I yearned for the missing "Because You're Frightened" my Magazine masterpiece Soap... got a decent look in, with a trio of songs appearing, with Howard quizzing the audience mid set after "A Song From Under The Floorboards", stating it was the last track on side two of the album and asking us what the last track on side one was? Well "Philadelphia" was the correct answer, leading to a tremendous take on the song (and not cheesy in the slightest!)
One of the surprises of the night for me was looking down from the balcony and seeing middle aged moshers dancing to the fairly slow and sombre "Permafrost". At first I thought it might have been the only pace their bodies could keep up with but they made a further brave attempt to throw their all into a pounding version of "The Light Pours Out of Me", the song that followed, closed the set and was one of the evening's best moments, with the song's pulsing bass and Glitter Band style riff really winning over the SBE crowd.
The band returned for an encore featuring new song "Final Analysis Waltz" and after a brief band introduction launched into a track featuring possibly the best guitar riff to come out of the Punk/New Wave era - "Shot By Both Sides". The song features a riff so good it's shared with the Buzzcocks "Lipstick". It was a real privilege to hear a live rendition of the band's debut single, especially as it was something I couldn't have contemplated viewing live a few years earlier.
Magazine completed the evening with a 'Pogo-a-go-go' run through of the Captain Beefheart track "I Love You Big Dummy", the original b-side of "Give Me Everything" and a song that had even a large chunk of the upstairs audience dancing in the aisles.