The Manic Street Preachers Review by cuiliqing

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									                              The Manic Street Preachers

                          The O2 Arena - 17 December 2011




And so the Manic Street Preachers bid farewell to music-making, "for at least two years" so they claim.
But then, anyone who knows how sound bite-savvy bassist/pop provocateur and rent- a quote Nicky
Wire can be, one knows not to believe a word that comes out of his mouth. The band’s early mission
statement to make one great album and split is now as distant a memory as their wonderfully camp
explosion into indie rock; a refreshing alternative to baggy and grunge, all inflammatory slogans,
spouting literature and politics in skin-tight jeans, eyeliner and Coke-sculpted hair (they couldn’t
afford hairspray). As the Welsh act celebrates 25 years together, they find themselves a decidedly un-
Manics proposition. They've somehow outlasted acid house, shoegazing, Madchester, grunge and
Britpop. They've survived five Prime Ministers. They’re still going for a start, and seething apocalyptic
punk rock and sneering diatribes now sit rather awkwardly alongside mainstream acceptance,
stadium sing-alongs and sedate attire.

But such ups and downs are exactly what makes Manic Street Preachers tick. As the ultimate
rock‘n’roll survivors, they have battled through more than most – the majority of their peers having
either given up long ago or are currently to be found embarking on cringe-worthy comebacks. So to
celebrate their silver anniversary the Welsh band decided to play all 38 of their singles at a special
Christmas gig, at the 02 Arena, which was split into two halves with an interval. This is based on the
recent release of National Treasures - a collection of all 38 said tracks spanning an impressive 10
albums. Critics may view the title as a little arrogant but the band certainly has got the songs to back
up the claim.

So onto the show folks! As Nicky Wire promised earlier in the week, the Manics chose not to run
through all the hits in album order. Instead they mixed many new and old songs together throughout
their mammoth show. Arriving onstage, 20 minutes later than their scheduled time of 7.30pm (crowd
had been encouraged to take seats on time!!) sailor-suited James Dean Bradfield joked: "Howdy
doody O2. Better late than never ever eh?", before launching into 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart'.
During their set they also took time out to recall lost member Richey Edwards (long story- went
missing in 1995, presumed/declared dead in 2008) with Wire describing the band's favourite single -
'Faster' as his "f......g masterpiece". He hovers behind them in old video footage, providing a poignant
backdrop, and there's an eerie moment during “Roses in the Hospital” when the video cuts to Edwards
singing the same words as Bradfield. Imagine Richey's shock, should he ever return to find that their
core audience of androgynous indie waifs is now greatly outnumbered by beefy men who hoist their
pints while singing “Everything Must Go”.

That the Manics can sell out an arena gig at which they perform all those singles proves they were
right about one thing all along: they really are a stadium band. Even presented in a non-chronological
jumble as already mentioned – 1992's “Motorcycle Emptiness” (one of the cornerstones!!) is followed
by last year's “Just the End of Love”; 1994's “Faster” bumps up against 2001's “Let Robeson Sing” –
the songs cohere into a dynamic whole. Preceded by wry anecdotes ranging from the touching and the
political to the positively comedic from Bradfield and Nicky Wire – whose red bob and kohl-blackened
lids give him an unmistakable resemblance to Mary Portas – each song is a tremendous affirmation of
their stature in British rock. As Bradfield reaches each song's soaring apex, he's drowned out by a
backing choir of 16,000 voices. Although in a three-hour show, it's inevitable that some numbers will
signal an exodus to the beer queue. The decision to do absolutely everything meant that there were a
few misses, but only a few.

The Cardigans' frontwoman Nina Persson and former Super Furry Animal frontman Gruff Rhys guest
on, respectively, the anthemic “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough” and “Let Robeson Sing”, but create
little stir. This was not a night for star cameos, it was about the original members of the band,
childhood chums who came out of South Wales with a sub-Clash manifesto and far exceeded
expectations, at least in musical terms. It's the Manics the fans want, and as confetti rains down
during the finale “A Design for Life”, the love between band and crowd nearly takes the roof off and
the group bow out in grand symphonic style. The show was their last for at least two years as
mentioned before which Bradfield acknowledged when he signed off , saying: "Thank you for coming
out tonight, you're the lifeblood of old taffs likes us so Merry f...g Christmas. We’ll see you back in
Britain in two years time hopefully” True to form, the hoodie and pencil- skirt wearing Wire ended the
show by smashing his bass onstage and pushing a prop over. Yawn!!!

This certainly was a mammoth show and an interesting experience for me (and Mrs Wrinkly the
Silver!!) The acoustics were in surprisingly fine fettle, and the audience was in good humour.The first
half was slightly lacklustre I felt with the group clearly pacing themselves and playing it safe but the
second half was barnstorming with a great climax. There is clearly life in the old Welsh dragons yet.
Everything must go, perhaps, but this was no closing down sale. Maybe pop and politics can mix, after
all.

Setlist:-

'You Stole The Sun From My Heart'
'Love's Sweet Exile'
'Motorcycle Emptiness'
'(Its Not War) Just The End Of Love'
'Everything Must Go'
'She Is Suffering'
'From Despair To Where'
'Autumn song'
'Empty Souls'
'Let Robeson Sing'(with Gruff Rhys)
'Faster'
'Life Becoming A Landslide'
'Kevin Carter'
'Little Baby Nothing'
'This Is The Day'
'The Everlasting'
'Indian Summer'
'Stay Beautiful'
'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next'
'Australia'
'La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)'
'Found That Soul'
'There By The Grace Of God'
'Some Kind Of Nothingness'
'You Love Us'
'Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)'
'Revol'
'The Love Of Richard Nixon'
'Ocean Spray'
'The Masses Against The Classes'
'Roses In The Hospital'
'So Why So Sad'
'Postcards From A Young Man'
'Your Love Alone Is Not Enough'(with Nina Persson)
'Slash N Burn'
'Tsunami'
'Motown Junk'
'A Design For Life'


Dave Lock (Wrinkly the Silver)

								
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