Manic Street Preachers
RazorlightEdit this event
It really shouldn't have worked.
I mean, three overweight Welsh blokes a good five years past their sell-by date and the biggest gobshite to crawl out of London's trendier quarters since time began, maybe, all under the same roof.
Ticket sales haven't exactly been soaring - the fact that touts outside were selling their wares for less than half price probably tells its own story - while the Manic Street Preachers' most recent offering 'Life Blood' continues to gather dust on the shelves of every HMV and Virgin Megastore up and down the land.
The last time they played this venue, two years ago to promote their greatest hits package, they seemed laboured, almost going through the motions to fulfil contractual obligations and the like before seemingly being put out to grass forever more.
I certainly didn't come here tonight expecting to see the most exciting show I've witnessed all year.
How wrong could I have been...
The fact that the Manics chose Razorlight to support them probably owes as much to a sense of deja vu - certainly on Nicky Wire's part anyway - as it does to a mutual admiration of each other's musical talents. If there's one thing about Johnny Borrell, he can certainly wind people up the wrong way, not unlike Wire in his younger days, and whether or not you find his C-O-N-T-R-O-V-E-R-S-I-A-L appropriations preposterous and irksome, you've got to admire his belligerance.
This time last year Razorlight were opening for no-hopers like The Bell Rays in shitty little toilets. Their meteoric rise probably owes as much to their uber-confident frontman as it does their tunes, but then when you've got such infectious stompers as 'Rip It Up', 'In The City' and 'Dalston', only a brave man could cast any aspersions of failure.
Future headliners of Glastonbury? Don't laugh - stranger things have happened.
And none more strange than the new lease of life that seems to have gripped the tired old carthorse that was the Manic Street Preachers, circa 2002.
The zest of yesteryear is back and tonight you get the impression that James Dean Bradfield and company are actually enjoying every minute of it. Despite the fact that Nicky Wire still looks a forlorn figure marooned to the far right of the stage, the addition of second guitarist Guy Massey has obviously had an impact not witnessed this side of 'The Holy Bible', as even the newer songs such as 'I Live To Fall Asleep' and '1985' sound as meaty as a 16oz sirloin cut from Dewhursts.
Even the actions of an overexcited member of the audience pouring a bottle of water into the mixing desk that causes the band to leave the stage halfway through 'Australia' and spend the next ten minutes waiting around while their roadcrew scurry around like headless chickens can't dampen their spirits, or the fact that JDB's favourite football team got stuffed earlier that day.
It's probably fair to say that the majority of hardcore Manic Street Preachers fans' ideal setlist would comprise largely of material lifted from the first three albums, with as little as possible from the '...Truth' and 'Know Your Enemy' eras, so the fact that no less than FIVE songs - count 'em if you don't believe me - in tonight's set are lifted from 'The Holy Bible' ('Yes', 'Faster' - played with a blistering fire in its belly as opposed to the half-arsed semi-acoustic meandering we were "treated" to on the greatest hits tour - 'This Is Yesterday', 'Die In The Summertime' and 'Archives Of Pain') made it feel like a few old demons were being exercised. Either that or they've a new box set to promote, but we'll let the cynics deliberate over that one...
As a rapturous 'Motorcycle Emptiness' and 'Design For Life' close the show, a new chapter in the Manics saga may be just beginning, ultimately proving how embarrassingly foolish it would be to write off Blackwood's most famous sons just yet.
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