Manic Street Preachers

Roundhouse, London on Mon 15th Dec 2014

Nostalgia is a weird concept, almost becoming an industry in itself in recent years. Whilst certain bands are brazen in their tired approach to revisiting former glories, tonight feels different. Riding a wave of adulation from critics and fans alike 20 years on from the release of the brutal, harrowing and compelling 'The Holy Bible', it feels only right to revisit their magnum opus and celebrate the brilliant mind of former bandmate Richey Edwards.

The story of Richey's disappearance is all too well documented, steeped in tragedy and unanswered questions, but it's important to focus on what he left behind, and fortunately the songs still stand as a glowing testament to his undoubted genius. There's a surreal hilarity to being thrown about a crowd bellowing back lines from opener 'Yes' such as "he's a boy, you want a girl so tear off his cock. Tie his hair in bunches, fuck him, call him Rita if you want."  Not exactly your typical arms-aloft anthem.

Whilst much of 'The Holy Bible' focuses on a dark introspection, there's a fire and political rage prevalent, which has remained throughout the band's career. Take for example 'ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit'sworldwouldfallapart', with its mantra of "there's not enough black in the union jack, there's too much white in the stars and stripes" remaining depressingly pertinent at the moment in the wake of white police brutality in Ferguson, America.

What follows from there is a curious mix of rage and energy – 'Revol' and 'Faster' both invoking frantic mosh pits as bassist Nicky Wire scissor-kicks and struts about the stage as though it's London Fashion Week, whilst '4st 7Ib' and 'The Intense Humming Of Evil' both demonstrate an uncomfortable darkness of mind. Grouped together, these songs combine to make one of the greatest albums ever put to tape – in a live setting there's still a fire and passion about them which continues to burn.

Following a 10-minute break (the band need a costume change), the crowd are treated to a curious mix of greatest hits, newer songs from this year's incredible 'Futurology' and rarities. Whilst the classics like 'Motorcycle Emptiness' and 'You Love Us' are rapturously received, perhaps the finest moment of the second set is 'Europa Geht Durch Mich' – an infectious krautrock stomp, with German actress Nina Hoss joining singer James Dean Bradfield on vocals.  It all bodes well for the future – how many other bands can focus a show around a classic album and have something new stand out as a highlight?

Of course it is left to a euphoric and inevitable finale of 'A Design For Life' to close proceedings. Halfway through, Nicky Wire bellows into the microphone "this isn't our Britpop anthem, this is our working class anthem dedicated for everyone trying to keep libraries open. Keep the fucking faith." That there is what makes the Manics still as important as they were when they released The Holy Bible in 1994. In 2000 they released a raucous single 'The Masses Against The Classes', in which they sang "we're the only thing left to believe in" – nothing has changed.

article by: Craig Jones

published: 16/12/2014 17:55



FUTURE GIGS


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