This Magic Numbers article was written by Niall Webster. Edited by Hazel Webster. Photographs by Niall Webster.
Since it was announced earlier this year that The Magic Numbers were embarking on a five date tour of intimate venues to celebrate the ten years since their eponymous debut album, it was hard not to get excited. The tour spans England and Ireland and the 9th December marked Manchester’s turn to experience this pre-Christmas musical treat.
The band consists of two brother and sister pairings, Romeo and Michele Stodart and Sean and Angela Gannon. Sean and Romeo had played together for ten years in various bands before letting their sisters join them, because, as stated by Romeo himself, they knew all the songs after all. Within twelve months they hit the big time and the rest is history.
Their supporting artist was the very talented Ren Harvieu, a local lass from just down the road in Salford. Ren recently toured with Romeo as a duo, performing songs they wrote together as well as songs from their individual repertoires. Her voice is versatile and filled with soul, which lends itself to many different genre’s of music, something which was apparent as she breezed through her set. Finishing off with a very festive rendition of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ she left the stage to cheers of appreciation from the crowd.
So how do you commemorate ten years since your debut album was released? You perform it in it’s entirety and in the order the tracks appear to a room full of people who know the songs as well as you do, that’s what!
Starting with ‘Morning’s Eleven’, the band’s rendition has not changed, sounding like both the album track and live performances of nearly a decade ago. This is honourable especially in a time where demand is high within the music industry to constantly reinvent yourselves and your sound in order to remain on-trend. It’s refreshing to have a group of artists who buck that trend and instead remain true to themselves and their roots in music.
The evening continued at a brisk pace as they played their way through several more tracks with great gusto whilst the audience sang along word for word. When it came to ‘This Love’, a song written by Romeo and Michele following their Grandmother’s passing. They don’t often perform it live as it’s very softly sung, Romeo switched to an acoustic guitar and began to perform the song, he then stopped and adjusted something before starting again. Stopping a second time he exclaimed “this just sounds shit” and announced jokily that he can be a bit of a diva. For a song with such a personal, sentimental connection, he can be completely forgiven for that. Swapping back to the electric guitar, he played on.
They were about to perform the much anticipated ‘Wheel’s on Fire’ when Romeo invited several members of the audience onto the stage to perform it with them. They all eagerly clambered up, forming somewhat of a reunion as one person admitted that he and his partner had been on stage with them before.
Continuing with ‘Love’s a Game’, Romeo encouraged the audience to join in with the girls before seamlessly leading into ‘People Get Ready’ by The Impressions. They then performed two tracks from their 2014 album ‘Alias’. The first of which, ‘Shot in the Dark’ was quite a rocky track, showcasing both Romeo’s lead guitar and Michele’s bass playing to a tee. And let’s not forget Sean, who was sat behind his kit, drumming away with an assured precision that only comes from practising your craft for many a year. The second track from ‘Alias’, ‘I Thought I Wasn’t Ready’ is beautifully sung by Angela at the main microphone and it was lovely to see her up there as the focus of attention.
The Magic Numbers recorded a Christmas song entitled ‘I Don’t Care if it’s Christmas’. According to Romeo this is non-autobiographical but judging by Michele’s face, he lies. They performed the song nonetheless and if it were ranked within the Christmas song hierarchy, it would be closer to ‘A Fairytale of New York’ than ‘Mistletoe and Wine’…mercifully.
They finished the night off with the secret track from their debut album, ‘Hymn For Her’. This was a fitting finale to the show and for one act to perform non-stop for more than 90 minutes is a testament to the band. To quote Romeo from a short time earlier, “Thank you Manchester, it’s been a really beautiful night”, a sentiment which was no doubt shared by all who attended.