247 Magazine
No Comments


Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

You’ve got to love homecoming gigs (even when they do take place in an alcohol-free room in a leisure centre) and the Manic Street Preachers absolutely nailed this one. Whether it’s the desire to impress the old friends and family in the audience or the poignancy of playing a venue which you first played 17 years ago with a much loved and very missing guitarist (Richey James Edwards), the Manics gave it everything they had.

British Sea Power opened the show with some of their self indulgent soaring anthems, including their signature song Waving Flags (I’ve never seen so many flags on stage) and the popular No Lucifer, during which the guitarist donned an evil fox mask. Perhaps this is why the Manics felt they had to up their game when it came to stage deco. I’m sure when they first played the Newport Centre back in 1993 (though at the age of 10 I was too young to appreciate) the stage deco consisted of bassist Nicky Wire wearing a dodgy old ladies dress, feather boa and tiara. This time it comprised massive rich red drapes, disco ball mannequins and a million cuddly toys which had that mad lady who fills her car with stuffed toys vibe about it. It was truly immense and perfectly suited to their set.

They opened with the old favourite You Love Us for the first mass singalong of the night before lead singer James Dean Bradfield informed the excited crowd that they would be playing something off all of their albums except the very poorly received Lifeblood (cue sighs of relief) and they stuck to their word. From debut album Generation Terrorists it had to be the slow burning, heart-wrenching Motorcycle Emptiness, Gold Against The Soul added Roses to the Hospital to the set while the most popular album among ‘old skool’ fans, The Holy Bible, gave us the emotionally charged This Is Yesterday. Then we got Everything Must Go, the title track of their breakthrough album. Before a healthy dose of more recent songs (by more recent, I mean in the last decade) including If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next, Ocean Spray and Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, among others.

Unsurprisingly, it was the offerings of their penultimate album Journal For Plague lovers which captured the imagination of the glitter covered, leopard print loving fans (of which I am one) – Peeled Apples and Jackie Collins Existential Question Time where Bradfield and co muse ‘Oh Mummy, what’s a Sex Pistol?’. There’s no escaping it, Richey’s lyrics are always going to have more clout than Wire’s recent offerings. Saying that, their latest album Postcards From A Young Man didn’t completely fall flat on its face with the first three tracks dotted throughout the set, It’s Not War Just The End Of Love, Postcards From A Young Man and Some Kind Of Nothingness – which I have to admit, actually sounded better without Ian McCulloch’s vocals (sorry Echo and the Bunnymen fans).

The Manics may be 40-odd now and may look a lot more knackered than they did a few years ago but they’ve still got it and with a back catalogue like theirs, create the most compelling two hour set. Other highlights included their M*A*S*H cover, Suicide Is Painless, their millennium single, Masses Against The Classes and fan favourite Motown Junk.

Words and video: Laura Williams
Photos: James Assinder