Manic Street Preachers - Manchester O2 Apollo
"The metropolis, the powerhouse, the light of the north!" James Dean Bradfield greets the crowd at Tuesday night's show, and the Apollo crowd are already eating out his hand. It may have been April Fool's Day, but there was no tricksterism at play, just two hours of spine-tingling tunes spanning the entirety of this great band's career. They may no longer be the Generation Terrorists of old, yet Manic Street Preachers have lost none of their power or vigour in the 25 or so years they've been together. James Dean Bradfield's guitar screamed and raged as he pirouetted across the stage like Chuck Berry on happy pills, with Nicky Wire still scissor-kicking right beside him.
Starting with the luscious 'Show Me The Wonder' from their fine Rewind the Film album, they then segued into the old favourites. As the songs roll by you get a sense of the journey this band have taken. From the punk brats of 'Motown Junk' to the grown men staring middle age in the face. In 'Sullen Welsh Heart' you feel the long, difficult, and at times painful road they have travelled together. The raw angry power that emanated from those early songs; 'The Masses Against the Classes', 'You Love Us' and the brilliant 'Stay Beautiful' ("Don't want to see your face, don't want to hear your voice, why don't you just fuck off!") has been tempered somewhat after the disappearance of their bandmate and friend Richey Edwards, whose ghost still haunts their music, and indeed their live shows. Whether it is Nicky Wire reminiscing when he and Richey wrote 'Motown Junk', or the old black and white band videos which fill the giant screen, his presence is still keenly felt.
The band previewed two new songs from their forthcoming Futurology album (due out in June); the title track and the excellent, pro-Europe rocker 'Europa Geht Durch Mich'. But mostly it was a slightly drunken romp through memory lane. In these sometimes desperate and dark times bands like the Manics matter more than ever - and we are very fortunate indeed to be still graced with their presence.
Set list: Show Me the Wonder, You Stole the Sun From My Heart, Motorcycle Emptiness, (It's Not War) Just the End of Love, Europa Geht Durch Mich, Stay Beautiful, Everything Must Go, Rewind the Film, Die in the Summertime, Your Love Alone Is Not Enough, Enola/Alone, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, This Is Yesterday (acoustic), From Despair to Where (acoustic), This Sullen Welsh Heart (acoustic), Archives of Pain, Futurology, The Masses Against the Classes // You Love Us, Tsunami, 30-Year War, Motown Junk, A Design for Life