Manic Street Preachers
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- Apollo, Manchester »
- Manic Street Preachers »
I know it's late, but hey, I've only just got my PC fixed... anyway, Manics Mancehster way back in MArch. This is what I wrote at the time. Here's a quick review. Set list was
FOUND THAT SOUL MOTORCYCLE EMPTINESS MASSES AGAINST THE CLASSES SO WHY SO SAD KEVIN CARTER OCEAN SPRAY YOU STOLE THE SUN LA TRISTESSE DURERA F A S T E R LET ROBESON SING SWEET CHILD OF MINE - MOTOWN JUNK FREEDOM OF SPEECH BABY ELIAN THIS IS YESTERDAY MISS EUROPA WATTSVILLE BLUES NO SURFACE ALL FEELING AUSTRALIA IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOU LOVE US A DESIGN FOR LIFE
Of course the last time most of us saw The Manics, they were playing to 60,000 people. To some, the idea of an intimate, sold-out in an hour tour, playing to about 3,500 people a night is an absurd idea.But then again, when your ambitions stretch as far as the magical 16,000,000 albums, then this is small fry. Tiny. And on with a show of little ceremony and surprisingly little pomp. There are no video screens. No co-ordinated backdrops. No strange choregraphed scissor kicks. Just some glitter balls and some lights.
From the furious (but a strangely muted audience reaction) FOUND THAT SOUL, the agenda setting statement of intent that screams nothing more, and nothing less than, 'we were shit for a while, but we're good again', the set - bar two songs is a greatest hits'n'newest stuff grab bag. MOTORCYCLE EMPTINESS is dispatched early, and MASSES AGAINST THE CLASSES goes down a storm, bearing in mind this is the first time most people have heard it since it was released. SO WHY SO SAD comatoses the venue, being as it is, a substandard Motown-Xerox, and even then, at best is still far better than the Christmas Sleigh Bells crap of the recorded version. OCEAN SPRAY, meanwhile, despite looking trite and simplistic on paper, comes across live as a sweet, heartfelt, sincere lullaby to a lost friend. The simple rhyming structure of lines such as "its easy to feel, its not enough, even though its real" stands in direct contrast to "all I wanna do is live, no matter how miserable it is" from EVERYTHING MUST GO. It's as if there has been a cultural shift to not being satisied anymore. Reality, just the fact that we are alive, does not and can not atisfy anymore. Even without a trumpet solo played on guitar.
Next is the wholly vaccous YOU STOLE THE SUN. Worst single ever in the Manics history that, excepting the crap that was UK CHANNEL BOREDOM. However, then comes the glorious, spiteful proto-baggy (is that a word?) of LA TRISTESSE DURERA and the incendary, can't-believe-they're-playing-it-can't-believe-they-wouldn't of FASTER. Best song ever.
LET ROBESON SING is already established as a landmark anthem. Nicky plods his bass, James does all that eyes closed wide spread legs guitar wankery, and it sounds fabulous. A snippet of the GNR classic SWEET CHILD OF MINE leads into the best single of the 90's - FACT - of MOTOWN JUNK that still spits bile and acid into the face of comfortable Mondeo owners. Nicky comes out with some choice comments about the safe, boring mortgaged audience that clings to the Manics as a token shred of anarchy.
"This Next One Is For All The Journalist Who Think I've Been Trying To Hard To Write Lyrics. I Don't Need To Try - I'm Naturally Fucking Intelligent." - cheers Nicky. And so to FREEDOM OF SPEECH WON'T FEED MY CHILDREN. It's great, but there are far better songs on the album. The oft overlooked DEAD MARTYRS for example.
BABY ELIAN is a gentle acoustic version, as is the lump in the throat, tears in your eyes, windswept beauty of my favourite song ever THIS IS YESTERDAY. Oh Hang on, I change my mind what my favourite song is everytime I hear the Manics.
And so to the final straight. Nicky picks up a guitar for MISS EUROPA as James plays Bass and the band go through a surprisingly Abba-meets-the-Mondays rendition of the song, Nicky wearing a godawful silver jumpsuit and concentrating very very hard to play the song. he looks like bad Richey impersonator, the way he plays guitar. Next up, WATTSVILLE BLUES which sees James playing -
a double necked guitar, one neck of a guitar, one neck a bass.
- I mean. What the Hell? "Call Me Jimmy Page" he jokes, and the band go through WATTSVILLE. Near the end, Nicky abandons his guitar and wanders around the stage singing and yelling incoherently. Chaos.
"So does anyone know the second verse to No Surface? I've forgotten."
Cheers James. No poncey autocues for this man. They play the song, he forgets the second verse, and the crowd sing along. A bouncy AUSTRAILIA, a ploddy If YOU TOLERATE THIS, and a final punky YOU LOVE US, and a muted DESIGN FOR LIFE end the set. As per normal, Nicky tries to trash the stage but these days when he does it just looks a bit sad. The Clash only destroyed their instruments twice, the Manics do it every night. Every single night. Before T in The Park, they'd only done it once. Now it's every single night. Give it up, Nicky its a bit sad.
And that's it. They're much better than they used to be, but still not as good as they could have been, or as good as they once were. Some people say it can only get better when they realise you can't get any lower, but I don't buy into that. They're still one of the best there is. It's a shame the competition is so poor.
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