Monday 3 November 2014

Magnus Shines As Five Piece

After seeing Tom Barman with Magnus on Vlieland in September I was wondering how the band would sound when they were complete. At the ITGWO festival the band was missing a few members because they had other obligations. Now on their short tour they are in their normal five piece line-up with a drummer and keyboard player added to it. So I headed to the new venue in northern Amsterdam to find out.

Magnus at Paradiso Tolhuistuin, October 30 2014

Soldier's Heart will be supporting tonight. This band doesn't ring a bell and a search on Google leads to some roots band from the US that doesn't really fit the program. When I arrive at the venue I discover it's actually a band from Belgium making danceable electro pop. It turns out their song 'African Fire' even sounds familiar and I'm pleasantly surprised with the young band.

Right from the start it is immediately clear that the full line up definitely makes a difference. The songs sound more organic and have more body. The drummer is sometimes playing the groove of the song, with a nice warm full bass sound, at other times he's filling in around the beat from CJ Bolland by adding subtle percussion, both electronic and acoustic. The keyboard parts are now more complex since Barman doesn't have to play them himself while singing, adding more depth to the songs.

Another advantage is that Barman can now move freely around the stage, so he and guitar player Tim van Hamel are competing each other who can come up with the most silly dance moves (won by van Hamel). It turns the show into a lively performance and the band is clearly having a good time. Needless to say that everyone else is as well and soon most people are dancing and temperatures are rising, turning the venue into a sultry place.

The old and new songs mix well together even though there is ten years between some of them. Van Hamel uses an eighties kind of guitar sound, that reminds of Duran Duran and early Simple Minds. Together with new wave elements it gives the songs an eighties kind of feel, without sounding outdated. Some songs get more punch than on the record and get even better. 'Puppy' is more powerful and although it's hard to replace Tom Smith's vocals on 'Singing Man', tonight's version sounds just as good. With this full line up the songs sound more like rock songs than just plain electronic dance songs and in 'Catlike' it's impossible not to hear a bit of dEUS. In the end this was a fun show for both band and audience. Let's hope we don't have to wait another ten years for new material.

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