Last week I had the amazing fortune to see the Manic Street Preachers live, and not just live but ‘at home’ in Wales, in the centre of Cardiff!
I went along with friends Duncan (known for years), Luke (who I’d been to the Belgian Grand Prix with, and other things) and ‘Mr C’ who co-hosts the Sidepodcast F1 podcast and community many of us are addicted to.
We met in the TGI Friday’s opposite the venue (er, eventually.. Mr C was his trademark late arriving which had us a bit worried, with him having the tickets!) where we stuffed our faces with large servings of food. Cheesey double bacon cheeseburger, HUGE.
We got to the Arena in time for the support act, The Joy Formidible. I had an idea of what to expect after Lukeh sent me a link a few weeks ago but hadn’t really had the time to listen properly. Well now I will: they were very good live. We were generally agreed they need a single or catchy song to hang the rest of the songs around, but they could play live to a big crowd, no doubt about that. It sounded more like a complete album rather than a collection of potential singles, and there’s nothing particularly wrong with that – I’ll get the album and perhaps it’ll make more sense that way.
They sounded really familiar though and none of us could pinpoint why. Familiar.. but also different. A cross between Editors and Catatonia and Blondie and their own sound too. I liked it and shall buy the album.
If you were to ask me to describe the Manics live this paragraph would just be a string of superlatives.
They seemed a bit more polished than some bands I’ve seen, although I reckon they’ve probably toured a lot more too. Polished isn’t always a good thing live because you don’t want it to sound like an album is being played out over the speakers, needs to be an element of ‘live performance’ too. I think they struck a good balance, especially with the acoustic songs.
Never would I have expected an acoustic version of Everything Must Go, I’d only heard that in a live appearance in a radio studio to be honest had forgotten it, so when Bradfield started playing I didn’t think it would work with a huge live crowd – but it did!
There was a song from every album, something for everyone from the angrier more raucous earlier stuff to calmer quieter side. From the anthems which made them popular to the more ‘grown-up’ sounding songs they’ve released over the last few years. For those of us who like the whole back catalogue – and the four of us are in that category – we loved it all.
My highlights were Motorcycle Emptiness, Enola/Alone, Faster, Everything Must Go, Suicide Is Painless and the finale, A Design For Life – during which they launched confetti/tickertape over the crowd!
I was so pleased they played My Little Empire too, one of my favourite songs not just from that particular album but from their whole repertoire. There was something a bit lacking from it (a guitar sound) but I didn’t care.
Some King of Nothingness was pretty damn good as well, come to think of it.
All in all a fantastic gig. We were buzzing afterwards. I hadn’t even been drinking! (Apart from a half.)
Here’s some of Slash’n’Burn, and scroll underneath for the full set list.
- Stay Beautiful
- Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
- Motorcycle Emptiness
- (It’s Not War) – Just The End Of Love
- Life Becoming a Landslide
- My Little Empire
- Slash ‘n’ Burn
- Solitude Sometimes Is
- You Stole The Sun From My Heart
- Postcards From A Young Man
- Of Walking Abortion
- Motown Junk
- If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
- Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Acoustic)
- Everything Must Go (Acoustic)
- The Masses Against the Classes
- Let Robeson Sing
- Some Kind Of Nothingness
- Suicide is Painless (Theme from MASH)
- You Love Us
- A Design For Life
WHAT a set list! There was barely a break between each song as well, consumate professionals, outstanding.
Go to the Setlist.fm page which has links to the songs, some of them are live from a random gig and some are promo videos. Great idea for a site because you can listen to songs in the same order as the gig without having to make a playlist or buy the things you’re missing.
I’m so pleased to now have seen nearly all of my favourite bands I listened to as a teenager in the late 90s:
Blur (amazing comeback gig),
Oasis (not long before they split),
not to mention two fantastic R.E.M. gigs! (with Idlewild at one and Editors at another)
I may be ten years late, but that’s an ambition fulfilled! Thanks to all those who helped make it happen.