Manic Street Preachers - Newport Centre
Rock ‘n’ Roll is a young man’s game, right? Someone clearly forgot to tell Blackwood’s most revered sons, Manic Street Preachers, who return with their eleventh studio album, Rewind the Film, this autumn. The Manics’ consistency amongst their fellow British contemporaries is unrivalled – almost all have split or faded away and resurfaced as a hollow shell of their former selves.
Granted, the Manics’ chart muscle has lost a little flex in recent years, but their live credentials remain epic. This homecoming gig of sorts was a ninety minute trawl through the back catalogue – a neat greatest hits package sprinkled with new material. It opens with No Surface All Feeling and already James Dean Bradfield is hopping across the stage on one leg and slashing huge riffs from his signature white Gibson guitar.
The Manics’ trump card is they’ve always managed to make the melancholic sound anthemic and the choruses that bellow from both Motorcycle Emptiness and Tsunami are a case in point. Some new material allows the crowd to catch a second wind with recent single Show Me the Wonder a real u-turn in the set – a cheery acoustic strum with lots of soulful brass.
Richard Hawley makes a brief appearance for Rewind the Film, and his low timbre gives the track some wide-eyed spectre. Nicky Wire has been surprisingly low-key until he pipes up about the band’s recent tour of Australia. Thereafter it’s an amusing, detailed narrative of the British and Irish Lions’ successful tour Down Under.
Bradfield is then left solo for two tracks – the first is another new number, This Sullen Welsh Heart, and the second a stunning sing-a-long for The Everlasting – Bradfield looks genuinely moved by the crowd’s choral outpouring.
The band return to stage for one final trawl through the classics – Revol keeps the Holy Bible enthusiasts satisfied and Motown Junk leaves Wire strutting and scissor kicking throughout. The set ends, inevitably, with the timeless A Design for Life – one last collective roar for Wales’ unofficial national anthem. Next year will see the release of the band’s twelfth studio album, Futurology. We’ve been promised a much spikier affair than Rewind the Film, but 2014 also marks twenty years since the release of the seminal Holy Bible – here’s hoping an anniversary tour is on the cards.