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Jessie J - Sheffield, Plug, 25/10/2011

  by Denzil Watson

published: 27 / 10 / 2011

Jessie J - Sheffield, Plug, 25/10/2011


Denzil Watson finds Magazine to be as relevant now as they were in their late 70's/early 80's heyday at show to promote their first album in twenty eight years, 'No Thyself', at the Plug in Sheffield

"Welcome to Magazine version 6.0. Thank you for up-grading to the new platform," drolls Magazine front man Howard Devoto. The latest change in line-up, forced by the absence of original bassist Barry Adamson, now leaves the number of original members at three; Devoto, drummer John Doyle and keyboardist Dave Formula. No matter, the Magazine dynamic and aesthetic, on this showing, is most definitely intact. Replacement bassist John "Stan" White copes well trying to fill Adamson's not inconsiderable shoes and guitarist Noko balances paying respect to the old songs with adding his own twist on the new material. At times his guitar is so high in the mix it threatens to drown out Devoto's vocals. At the drum kit Doyle doesn't put a stick wrong all night and Dave Formula, so critical to the distinctive sound the band honed for themselves, moves wizard-like behind a bank of vintage keyboards. And now there's new material too. A year or so ago Magazine bit the bullet and started to work on songs. The resulting album, the recently released 'No Thyself', preserves the band's legacy nicely. Tonight the set-list is peppered with new tunes ('Happening in English', 'Holy Dotage' and 'The Worst of Progress') that while being noticeably slower than their predecessors, slot into the set seamlessly and receive a warm welcome from the very respectable crowd gathered inside the large room at Sheffield's Plug venue. From set opener 'Definitive Gaze'through to a raucous 'The Light Pours Out of Me' where Noko's guitar threatens to sheer the roof of the room, the old material sounds edgy, vital and ground-breaking as it always did. The predictably mature crowd watches with keen eye as Manchester's avant garde new wavers take us through their impressive back catalogue. All three of their classic albums, 'Real Life', 'Secondhand Daylight' and 'The Correct Use of Soap' get an equal look in with only their fourth, 'Magic, Murder And The Weather', left in the cold. And Devoto is in playful form. "Have we had enough songs about the wrong type of sex yet?" he asks the crowd before launching into a chillingly engrossing version of 'Permafrost' ("I will drug you and fuck you on the permafrost"). 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)' turns up the p-funk dial, 'Motorcade' lurches thrillingly along and the second of three encores, 'Shot By Both Sides', predictably gets the biggest cheer of the night. The final song, the band's excellent interpretation of Captain Beefheart's 'I Love You, You Big Dummy', rounds things off on a high. Often it's touch and go when bands decide to reform, but Magazine are still as relevant now as they were in their prime back in the late 70's/early 80's. And who would deny Howard Devoto his last chance to be 'venerable'?

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