Words & Pictures (C) Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
The end of the year and a final, added well after the original tour dates had been announced, show from Blackwood’s finest at the SSE Arena in Wembley. Perfect timing thanks to an impressive No.1 chart topping position with ‘The Ultra Vivid Lament’ the band’s first album to hit the top spot since 1998’s ‘This Is My Truth, Tell Me Yours’. They did of course almost manage the position with the last release, ‘Resistance Is Futile’ but, like Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ they were just held off the top spot peaking at Number 2 thanks to the soundtrack to ‘The Greatest Showman’.
This time however, riding high on the back of tracks like ‘Orwellian’ and ‘The Secret He Had Missed’, the album flew straight in at No.1 and as expected, the tour sold extremely well and the final show gave the tour the perfect final blowout.
Before the Manics arrived on stage however, electronic act Public Service Broadcasting kick started proceedings.
Public Service Broadcasting
Taking samples from old public information films, archive footage and propaganda material PSB offer an interesting and unique take on electronic music. With added vocal layers and keys from Eera, the band put on a fascinating show that felt modern and bedded firmly in the early 1980s in equal measure.
After what felt like a slow run in with the first 3 songs, mid way through the set the musicians found their groove and mixed with the interesting visual mixed from messaging and old broadcasts, PSB started to get a solid reception from the crowd.
Highlights included ‘Spitfire’ and ‘Go!’ and as the band departed, the drinks flowed once more and a buzz around the pretty well attended arena started to increase.
Im Licht (with EERA)
Der Rhythmus Der Maschinen (with EERA)
Progress (with EERA)
All Out (with EERA)
People, Let’s Dance (with EERA)
Blue Heaven (with EERA)
Manic Street Preachers
Playing as a 5-piece to allow the sound to really fill the arena, Manic Street Preachers burst onto stage with the sort of enthusiasm that I remember them playing with when I first saw them back at the Kilburn National Ballroom in 1992. I always think you can tell how energised the band will be front the amount of pogos and star jumps Nicky Wire does early on. Thankfully the opening songs were peppered with both so we were clearly in for show! And for good reason as well as it transpires that we’d provided Nicky with a good reason to be there that evening.
“Good evening, Wembley. Thank you for giving me a reason to get out of my fucking tracksuit and slap on my make-up and white jeans. This is stuff I’m banned from at home!”
Well, we’re happy to help where we can especially when it guarantees a set packed with energy and classic tunes delivered with the sort of passion and drive that 30 years in the business can do for you. And after all… since when doesn’t Mr Wire look good in skinny jeans ?
Front-man James Dean Bradfield echoes his partner in crime’s enthusiasm offering up; “Thank you for being through all the shit you’ve been through and still coming out”.
The set list whilst chock full of classics seems to reflect their own sentiments as it focuses on the music that was designed to let us bounce along to it. The 1992 epic ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, the song that bought me into the fan club from an early age opened and as always, I could have gone home happy at that point.
During the first half of the show, ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’ and ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ sat perfectly alongside the two new singles from the latest album and proved once more that the band produce timeless music with ease. It all feels as fresh now as it did back in the early 1990s. It’s a thought reciprocated by Bradfield who pauses, mutters “Fuck it, let’s stay in the ‘90s,” and then proceeds to launch into ‘Enola/Alone’ from the album that redefined them after they became a three-piece, ‘Everything Must Go’.
When they switch to ‘Still Snowing In Sapporo’ the song is backed with footage of the greatly missed 4th Manic Richey Edwards. It’s a poignant moment, appreciated by band and fans in equal measure.
The Cult’s ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ would normally have been an usual inclusion in the set but when Bradfield explains the song is dedicated to late record producer Steve Brown, who also produced said Cult classic, it all slots perfectly into place. It also reminds us just how talented the band are and what they can turn their hands to given the opportunity.
There’s still a sense that the Manic Street Preachers will have some something to say for years to come. The edgy media publications may try and suggest that the elder statesmen of rock can’t possibly have anything to say now, “what do they know, they don’t understand the plight of youth anymore..” etc.. What rubbish. Experience accounts for everything and our trio have that in spades.
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
The Secret He Had Missed
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Still Snowing in Sapporo
Everything Must Go
Happy Bored Alone
Love’s Sweet Exile
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
La tristesse durera (Scream to a Sigh) – (Acoustic)
She Sells Sanctuary – (The Cult cover)
Slash ‘n’ Burn
You Love Us
A Design for Life