WestEndExtra

The independent London newspaper

Review: The Magic Numbers, at Islington Assembly Hall

13 December, 2018 — By Chris Roe

The Magic Numbers. Photo: Niamh Murray

IT’S more than 10 years since The Magic Numbers released their Mercury Prize-nominated debut album, and Forever Lost and Love Me Like You became part of the soundtrack to a summer.

Their show at Islington Assembly Hall, pretty much a hometown gig for a band born in the city, is a showcase of what they’ve been up to since.

The December 2018 line-up is unchanged from the 2005 original – the two brother-and-sister pairings of Romeo and Michele Stodart, and Angela and Sean Gannon.

Over the years they’ve added more big pop songs to their repertoire. The brash country of Shotgun Wedding, from new album Outsiders, and the driving Shot In The Dark from 2014’s Alias, are standouts, along with 2010’s Throwing My Heart Away, sung with raw power by Angela.

New song Wayward is inspired by Romeo’s young son (or stolen from him, as his father cheerfully admits) and his comment that leaves don’t make a sound when they hit the ground, while Sing Me A Rebel Song aches with wistful melancholy.

Romeo and Michele’s parents are at the show, and Romeo dedicates I See You, You See Me, from the band’s debut album, to them – a song he says was inspired by listening to his parents having a heated row one night and wishing for a big, complex love like theirs.

It’s a reminder that from the start, the upbeat radio-friendly harmonies of The Magic Numbers have hidden a lyrical and emotional weight that is often what gives the songs their strength.

Long may it continue.

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