bands never split up, they just take extended holidays. That's the way
it seems these days, with just about every band that ever existed coming
back for an encore - in some cases many years after the end of the main
performance, and notwithstanding assorted line-up changes or even deaths
that might have taken place in the meantime.
the Magazine catalogue has been assiduously re-released over the years
(counting the live album, there are now more Magazine compilations available
than the band's original studio albums) there seems to be no particular
reason for the band to stage a comeback at this particular moment.
And, of course, Magazine proved themselves to be one of the great bands of their era - a taut, dynamic, ever-shifting creative force that played a large part in defining the amorphous territory of post-punk. There might be no particular reason for the band to reform right now, but it's good to have 'em back.
So, if Magazine are the grandfathers of cool, it'll take a band with a certain winning way with effortless frostiness to match them in this department. And here is that very band: Ipso Facto, looking studiously unimpressed with the big stage and bigger auditorium of the Forum - you'd think they played gigs of this scale all the time. They're worthy foils for the headliners. Their economical, not-a-note-wasted pop seems to have been dragged backwards through the garage punk of the sixties, sundry new wave nights at CBGB in the seventies, and somehow emerged without a hair out of place in the twenty-first century. A neat trick if you can pull it off, and Ipso Facto manage it with style.
Magazine have emerged into the twenty-first century wearing the intervening years rather well. Howard Devoto is an incongrous figure, centre stage - in his plus-fours and pink jacket he's a cheery, if somewhat otherworldly, holiday camp helper, about to compere the Tintin lookalike competition. He's flanked by bassist Barry Adamson, exuding laid-back cool in a neat-o waistcoat and topper combo. Guitar is in the care of Noko, Devoto's former collaborator in the post-Magazine band Luxuria. Although Noko is the fourth guitarist Magazine have had over the years, I suspect most people will be comparing his efforts tonight with the band's original six-string mangler, the late and splendid John McGeoch. It was McGeoch who played a key role in the original Magazine sound, and not incidentally showed that there was more to being a guitar hero than conventional rock-geezer freaking. Daunting shoes to step into, but Noko, nonchalant and impassive throughout, even as he unleashes distinctly McGeoch-ish runs, takes it in his stride.
the show is, of course, quite magnificent. Naturally, Magazine could hardly
pull anything less than magnificence out of the hat, because allowing
the big comeback to become a big flop was never an option. But the band
delivers the goods with all the original cold fire sparking and crackling
as if the flame had never wavered.
set is mainly drawn from Magazine's earlier albums - the band's final
release, Magic, Murder And The Weather gets short shrift, with
only 'This Poison' making it into the set. In a way, that's a disappointment,
because although conventional wisdom always has it that Magazine's previous
albums were the real classics, I still carry a torch for that last one.
presides, schoolmasterish, behind a lectern for the odd - and, I always
think, rather inconclusive - spoken-word piece 'The Book', but for the
most part the Magazine machine just keeps on blasting. 'Twenty Years Ago'
segues intp 'Definitive Gaze', just like it does on the live album, Play;
'Rhythm Of Cruelty' is a ripped-up dash.
Well, that was a welcome experience. The band's twenty-six year holiday seems to have done them good. As post-punk continues to bring its influence to bear on the bands of today, Magazine saunter out of the past, and without even breaking sweat, show 'em exactly how to nail this stuff to the wall. The godfathers are still cool.