32. KINGDOM OF MADNESS - The Band, Not The Song!
After his leaving MAGNUM Mark Stanway made up his mind what to do now. He started to auction off a lot of rare MAGNUM stuff for charity and participated in the Sweden Rock Orchestra Project. He also contacted Richard Bailey and the two of them came up with the idea of reviving the classic MAGNUM music from 1978 to 1994, as the back catalogue was not really performed by the current MAGNUM line-up anymore except a few songs.
After staging a series of “An Evening with…Mark Stanway”, in which Richard also participated, Mark announced in June 2018 that a new band had been founded, interestingly called “KINGDOM OF MADNESS”. The new band would consist of himself (keyboards), Richard Bailey (keyboards and flute), former MAGNUM-drummer Mickey Barker, short-time MAGNUM guitarist Laurence Archer (also with a past in GRAND SLAM) , Mo Birch (Mark’s wife) on backing vocals and Neil Murray (ex-WHITESNAKE) on bass. For the crucial position of the vocalist Stefan Berggren was considered, but, with the singer living in Stockholm, it would have been a logistic nightmare. So Chris Ousey, the SNAKECHARMER vocalist was asked to join and he did. So the line-up for the first gigs in December was complete, which Mark stated in an interview on Hard Rock Hell radio with Roger Fauske in late June. He also mentioned a live-album which the new band would like to record.
Having rehearsed in November 2018, Mark, Richard and their band took their band out on the road for the first time in December. The very first KOM gig was played at the Corporation, Sheffield on 15 December 2018. The setlist was a best-of classic MAGNUM songs: “Changes”/ “Back To Earth”/ “Just Like An Arrow”/ “Love’s A Stranger”/ “Start Talking Love”/ “Wild Swan”/ “The Lights Burned Out”/ “Need A Lot Of Love”/ “Rockin’ Chair”/ “The Tall Ships”/ “Only In America”/ “Midnight (You Won’t Be Sleeping)”/ “Days Of No Trust”/ “Kingdom Of Madness” and as encores “The Last Dance” and “Sacred Hour” Some of the gigs were even sold out. Obviously, MAGNUM-fans were most interested in the fact how the new band would sound, especially Richard’s comeback, Laurence’s guitar play and, of course, Chris Ousey’s vocals. The double keyboard sound of Mark and Richard made it possible to play the entire synth parts live. Moreover, Richard played the original “Kingdom Of Madness” song-intro on his flute, just like on the original album. Laurence’s guitar style was a little harsher, more actively involved than Tony’s. Chris fortunately never tried to copy Bob. He had his own style, his own voice, his own gestures. That was the only way to do it, as copying the original would have failed anyway. All critics and fans conceded that these new interpretations did Tony’s songs justice. However, the fan’s opinions on the new band were controversial. Some, who liked the older MAGNUM era best, hailed the new band as exactly what they had been waiting for. Some despised KOM as a “cover band” that could never reach the original. Most fans remained neutral and simply enjoyed the opportunity to see both bands and both setlists, old and new. The original MAGNUM members reacted reluctantly about the new band. Admitting that they were all great musicians, Tony and Bob weren’t too happy with KOM, criticizing that they didn’t have one single song they had written themselves in their set, but only played MAGNUM stuff. However, Mark stated in interviews that there was a possibility of recording original material in future.
Another set of gigs was announced for March and October 2019, some festival appearances for July and August.
On 28.6. Mark announced that Neil Murray had left the band to pursue other projects and that Brian Badhams would replace him. Brian had already worked with Mark in RAINMAKER and with Richard Bailey in ALASKA. Due to the change Brian already performed with KOM at the Rock And Bike-festival in summer and some of the autumn shows had to be rescheduled. On 8.8. Laurence Archer left as well to concentrate his activities on the recently reformed GRAND SLAM. He was replaced by Rik Sandford. However on the next gig in November in Wolverhampton he couldn’t make it, so Alan Bell and Rob Hayes stood in for him. Another set of UK shows was announced for September/October 2020, but the Coronavirus has put all activities on hold until now.