Magazine,The Forum, London

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The Independent Culture

They may not spend 2009 selling out stadiums or headlining Glastonbury, but to their small but fanatical band of supporters, the return of Magazine is undoubtedly the comeback of the year – already.

The pioneering post-punk band, started by Buzzcocks founder Howard Devoto, were only around for four years and barely achieved any mainstream success. But they are always called "influential" – understandably so, given that the long list of bands that owe them a debt include Radiohead, Franz Ferdinand and The Smiths. The fact that this show sold out in hours shows that their devoted fan base has waited a long time for this moment, and the grandiose Forum is packed out with grizzled punks bristling in anticipation.

Finally, together on stage for the first time in nearly 30 years, they appear and launch into "The Light Pours Out of Me", with its relentless, menacing build-up, while Devoto – wearing a pink jacket and cropped trousers – struts around. Tonight's line-up is what is generally regarded as the classic incarnation of the band, with John Doyle on drums, Barry Adamson on bass and Dave Formula (credited with getting the reunion together) on keyboards.

Their innovative guitarist John McGeoch, who died in 2004, is remembered during the show. He's ably replaced by Devoto's collaborator Noko, smartly dressed in a red velvet suit and matching shoes. It is a fitting tribute to the genius of McGeoch that it is his guitar parts which dominate.

With their disconcerting lyrics, the appeal of Magazine was their willingness to experiment. Their theatrical side still exists; at one point Devoto – who spends a lot of the time hopping around and gesturing wildly rather than dancing – recites "The Book" while standing behind a large wooden lectern.

The audience seems happy to stand back and soak it all up, but when they play "Shot By Both Sides" – also played at Magazine's first gig in Manchester in 1977 – the energy levels lift and the pogoing begins in earnest.

After one encore, which included their cover of Sly & The Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)", the stomping feet of the crowd, eager not to let the band get away from them again, brings them back. Once done, Devoto and Magazine take their long-overdue ovation, leaving the old punks spilling out on to the Highgate Road with happy glints in their eyes.

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