The first day at Sweden Rock is always special. You’re excited to be there and your expectations for the whole thing is just mountain high. It also gets a little bit better when you’re about to watch something that you’re really looking forward to. Last year it was Threshold, but they were a disappointment as their sound was really, really bad. This year it was Magnum. And Queensrÿche, of course, but their gig rained away from me. Magnum has always been a highly esteemed band for me and I haven’t caught the band live since 1990 on their Goodnight L.A. tour, as I missed their gig at SRF in 2010. That album wasn’t as great as its predecessors, but the gig was a real killer. Now, Magnum’s four latest albums has been really, really good, so this gig was something I didn’t want to miss. I was really impressed by Bob Catley’s vocals when he sang with Avantasia last year so there were some great expectations on that as well. Those expectations wasn’t fulfilled, I’m afraid. The biggest problem was their set list. I know that Magnum is a band that moves forward and doesn’t want to live on old merits, but when you play a festival, it is not like it is your own gig and like it or not, people expects the classics. They opened up with “Live ‘Til You Die” from their new album Escape From The Shadow Garden and it is a really great song, but it didn’t exactly cause an explosion among the fans, probably because not many people knew the song. The thing is, lots of the attenders at festivals are people who really don’t check out band’s newer stuff and are there to hear the classics. As an artist, that might not be what you want, but it’s the fact and if you want to create a great atmosphere, you just have to accept that. “Dark Skies” from The Visitation is also a really great number, but failed to make any impact at all. This continued until song number seven when they finally played “How Far Jerusalem” and “Les Morts Dansant” from On A Storyteller’s Night and it was only too clear that those were the songs people wanted hear. The set ended with “All England’s Eyes”, “Vigilante” and “Kingdom Of Madness” and that was what the crowd had been waiting for, but unfortunately, it was a tad too late. Not even the brilliant encore of “The Spirit” and “Sacred Hour” could save what the beginning of the gig had destroyed. Magnum played 14 songs out of which half of them were newer stuff. Too many at a festival, I’m afraid. Two newies, three tops would have been enough here. Other than that, I have no complaints on their musical abilities – Magnum are all top-notch as players, but just as on their new album, Bob Catley’s voice sounds strained. But there was no off-key singing so a little strained is something that you have to expect from a 66-year-old. But it is a little sad to state that once again, the first band I get to see at SRF is a small disappointment.
Magnum’s new album is reviewed here:
There has been some talk about the bands that I should have seen, but for different reasons missed. Now, here’s one gig that I had decided on not to watch, but ended up watching anyway. Sometimes those gigs really happily surprises you, like Danko Jones did a couple of years ago. However, this didn’t surprise me the least. At least not in a good way. When it comes to Blaze Bayley, I have never been even close to a fan. I never liked Wolfsbane and the fact that he got the job as Bruce Dickinson’s replacement in Iron Maiden was a big shock. The guy doesn’t even come close to Bruce vocally. His solo work with his own band Blaze isn’t necessarily bad, but I find those records extremely uninteresting and dull. Also, the two albums he made with Iron Maiden, The X Factor and Virtual XI are both crap, both musically and production wise. To Blaze’s defense I might add that it wasn’t his fault that they sucked – those songs couldn’t have been saved by any Bruce Dickinson in the world and to be honest, neither of Bruce’s last albums with Maiden, No Prayer For The Dying and Fear Of The Dark were that much to write home about. Needless to say, it didn’t come as a shock that I found Blaze’s performance, which consisted of only five Maiden songs “Lord Of The Flies”, “Futureal”, “Sign Of The Cross”, “The Clansman” and “Man On The Edge”, really, really boring. Blaze Bayley is a limited singer and as a frontman a lot is left to be desired. He clearly misses that little something to put him up there in the big league.
But all this was nothing compared to what we were about to witness from Iron Maiden’s original singer Paul Di’Anno. I have always found Di’Anno extremely overrated as a singer, but the songs on Maiden’s two first albums are really great, especially on the debut and from the clips I have seen, Di’Anno was alway a brilliant frontman who knows how to work an audience. This evening, however, was a complete disaster. His performance was so useless that he made Blaze’s almost brilliant in comparison. I’m not sure he even deserves the 1/10 rating I gave his gig. This could actually be the worst gig I have seen in my life, tied with Lita Ford’s comeback gig at SRF a few years back. First of all, Di’Anno is in real bad shape. He had to use his mike stand as a cane to even be able to walk on stage and finally there he didn’t, of course, move an inch during his whole set. As a singer Di’Anno is even more limited than Blaze, but this night he couldn’t sing at all. He missed lines, couldn’t reach even the lowest notes and he got lost in the vocal melodies. Look at the songs he played – “Sanctuary”, “Wrathchild”, “Remember Tomorrow”, “Killers”, “Phantom Of The Opera”, “Transylvania”, “Running Free” and “Iron Maiden”, the last two together with Blaze. Now ask yourself how bad you have to get to fail with a treasure of songs like that. It has been said that this gig was Di’Anno’s last and after witnessing this, I think that that is a very good idea. This is the end of the line for Paul Di’Anno, I’m afraid!