Manic Street Preachers
Cardiff holds many special Manics memories for me, firstly, there was the Manic Millennium, followed later by an amazing gig at Cardiff Arena, in August 2001 (as part of the Know Your Enemy Tour) – which was by the band’s own admission, one of their “Best gig’s in years”.
More recently, two of my dreams came true, as I was very fortunate to meet + shake the hands of my idols: James, Nicky and Sean, at their Virgin Megastore signing in October. And on November 18, was 1 of the 800 privileged fans, to witness the historic / intimate Carling Homecoming Gig at St. David’s Hall, for which tickets could only be won through carlinglive.com.
Indeed, 2002 has been another momentous year for the Manics, including a Top 10 single: There By The Grace Of God (which also marked a change in their musical direction). 1 of 2 new songs, to feature on the Top 5, 20 track Greatest Hits Compilation: Forever Delayed – which spans the last 13 years of the band’s career.
“If we had aimed any lower in the beginning, I
don’t think anyone would’ve paid as much attention to us”.
The Manics have obviously taken great care and pride, in the planning / celebration of this release: A 25-date tour of Europe, Ireland and the UK (which continues in Japan, on January 22, 2003 with 4 more dates). A DVD containing all 30 Promo Videos, and a Book + Exhibition of previously unseen photographs, captured by long-time creative collaborator: Mitch Ikeda.
Nicky has commented, that he sees this tour: “As a chance to wallow in some nostalgia”. Therefore, rarely performed songs, including: PCP, Revol, She Is Suffering, Life Becoming A Landslide and Slash ‘n’ Burn, have all been unearthed at different shows, and deservedly so. Selected retro T-shirt designs, from the Generation Terrorists and Holy Bible eras, have even been re-printed too!
Having attended numerous dates on the tour, the Manics have been performing with a fire in their heart. Their impassioned songs, sound as great as ever, and prove that they will always matter – that they will always be vital / inspirational. The band’s live performances are superb: James’ voice is incredible, and they never fail to match the high quality of their recordings. Along with Nick Nasmyth (on keyboards) and Greg Haver (on percussion), they are indeed “Louder Than War”.
The gig opens perfectly, the arena lights darken and the huge video screens on stage, show highlights / iconic imagery from the Manics videos – eliciting cheers of adoration from their fervent fans (every time a band member appears). But of course, the loudest cheers are reserved for when Nicky, James and Sean, walk on stage – looking as ‘cool as fuck’!
James informs us that: “This is the last night of the tour”, which in their homeland, is the most fitting place of all. He is an excellent guitarist, whose playing is often described as the ‘heart’ of the Manics sound. So there’s probably no better way of opening the set, than with the classic Motorcycle Emptiness, such a beautiful and epic song, which gave the band mainstream exposure in 1992.
Australia, You Stole The Sun From My Heart, and The Masses Against The Classes ensue, with The Wire flashing his smile, scissor-jumping across the stage with his bass + holding his microphone stand aloft (wrapped with a glamorous feather-boa). And James spinning around on one leg / playing his guitar in front of Sean’s drums… all the energetic moves we know and love them for!
A sombre She Is Suffering, is dedicated to the “Sick puppies at the front” – us hardcore fans, who are also thanked by James: “We really appreciate you coming to every night of the tour”, whilst Nicky dedicates Tsunami to: “The power of silence”.
Next up is a real highlight, James confesses: “I
wasn’t born with the right height, the right hair, or the right
skin colour, but as it’s the last night of the tour, we might
as well give this a go”.
Before Suicide Is Painless and Stay Beautiful, Nicky
addresses the crowd: “Tonight, we’re being broadcast live
on Radio 1, so the louder you tell us to fuck off, the better it is”.
This results in huge applause from the fans, and yes, a very loud “Why
don’t you just fuck off” chorus, for the defiant Stay Beautiful.
The Manics exit this interlude, with 2 of my favourites: From Despair To Where and Roses In The Hospital, followed by new single Forever Delayed, with the haunting lyric: “Trapped in this eternity, stranded helpless, endlessly”. James then introduces the band: “The man with pins to die for – Mr. Nicholas Wire, and he keeps the beat alive – Mr. Sean Moore”.
Last Christmas turns into The Everlasting, and Everything Must Go + If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, display the more commercial sound of the band’s singles.
The penultimate song of the set is You Love Us, and although originally intended as a sarcastic two fingers up, to all of the band’s doubters, it eventually blossomed into a self-fulfilling prophecy, and is now one of the Manics most beloved anthems. However, tonight it is also extremely touching, for when James moves his microphone over to where Richey used to stand, he proclaims: “This tour has been about the 4 of us, and this song is for Richey only”. Every true fan, voices their mutual respect!
Finally, James wishes the crowd “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”, and says a heartfelt thanks, to all of the fans for their support. Nicky and James then climb atop the speaker stacks, which just leaves James to wrap up the night: “We came from the valleys, we’ve been the Manic Street Preachers and this is called, A Design For Life”. This modern-day classic, evokes a communal roar from the crowd, which rocks Cardiff Arena.
The band leave the stage, with the Forever Delayed portraits, filling the video screens behind them, but not before we’re treated to the sight of The Wire skipping – a fantastic time was had by all!
In celebrating their past glories with the Greatest Hits Tour, the Manics have also shown, that they are not ready to call it a day just yet, and that their future is certainly very bright. Throughout their career, such self-belief has not only made them stronger, but continues to silence their critics as well.
“We had success without compromising. We were
always outsiders, always deeply unfashionable. That hasn’t really
The Manics are Truly Exceptional, and have had such an impact on my life – every record, every gig, is essential! They are my all-time favourite band, and mean so very much to me and to their loyal fan-base. I can never say enough positive things about them, but as we all know: “Words are never enough, just cheap tarnished glitter”.
A very special thanks to Sarah Aspinall @ Hall or Nothing, and to Rosey for all of their help, and to the Manics + their management / security.