Manic Street Preachers
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Another year, another Manics album too many to taint the band's legacy as icons for several generations.
Then of course, there's the Manic Street Preachers live experience, and all of a sudden things start to make sense. If only to illustrate the fact it seems no-one is more uncomfortable with their recent history than the band themselves, particularly if a brief trawl through tonight's setlist is anything to go by.
Admittedly the band play five songs from their current record Send Away The Tigers - and let's face it, they are after all here to promote said album anyhow - but with only three songs culled from the total output of their previous three long players (and nothing at all from 2005's Lifeblood), it's clear to see where the Manic Street Preachers hearts lie at this present moment in time.
You may be able to take the boy away from rebellion, particularly when the royalty cheques from several million record sales start rolling in, but you can't take the spirit of rebellion from the boy, even when middle-age spread has set in.
On at least one occasion, songs are dedicated to "those who saw our first show at Trent Poly back in '89", and the likes of 'Born To End' and 'Sleepflower' are wheeled out to reclaim the band's youthful exuberance once more, even if a good percentage of those present need at least two verses and a chorus to recognise either.
In fact, it's not just the crowd who seem to be going through a memory lapse, as a rare run through of 'PCP' finds itself aborted just three lines in as James Dean Bradfield can't remember the rest of the words.
Nevertheless, the Manics always seem to be at their best when their backs are up against the wall, and despite several lukewarm reviews for Send Away The Tigers, tonight is a triumph against adversity, even the title track and admittedly corny (on record at least) 'Autumn Song' sitting pretty with the likes of 'Faster', 'La Tristesse Durera' and 'Motown Junk'.
Whether this tour, the first time the Manics have left the arena circuit in over a decade, is a sign of the times or a band returning to their roots remains to be seen, but even nostalgia hasn't sounded so healthy and vibrant in a long time.
Whether there'll be any new Manics record in the future is of little consequence, as their place in the history books as one of the most exciting British bands of the last two decades is already secured.
Invigorating, even if it was a mere case of business as usual...
Photo courtesy of Mark Moore
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