Cardiff is bathed in sunshine and the temperature is rising around The Motorpoint Arena. Why? The Manic Street Preachers are playing tonight as part of their Resistance Is Futile tour. The queues were long. The excitement high. There were definitely less leopard skin coats and feather boas than previous years. Tonight in their home city was the last night of the tour and a party atmosphere was in town.
The evening opened with special Guests The Coral. With seven albums and many hits there were a number of fans who knew the words to all the songs including the current album The Curse Of Love. The music filled the rapidly filling auditorium with its mix of styles that have a connection to the ear via poppy rhythms and melodies. The set list included Oh Jacqueline, which demonstrated what sets this band apart. Opening they needed to bring all their magic to Cardiff to get the crowd’s attention, they had one thing on their minds Manic Street Preachers. The band from the Wirral didn’t quite set the place alight with their brand of popular music that didn’t quite shout out loud enough. The lack of interaction with the crowd didn’t help. Opening acts/special guests are there to warm the audience while waiting for the main event. Into the mix was Holy Revolution, the new single from their latest album. They played Pass It On, with strong lyrics and undeniably catchy. They obviously played live Dreaming Of You which received a cheer and enthusiastic applause. In reality everyone was dreaming of the moment the Manics stepped on the stage and start to play.
The wait was over, the queue outside had gone, the Motorpoint was now full. From high above the crowds it was an ocean of heads all staring expectantly at the stage as the entrance music began. With a short visual display relating to the new album Resistance Is Futile with Geisha, Samurai and Sword, The drama of the night began with illuminated words “LIFE IS ALL MEMORY EXCEPT FOR THE ONE PRESENT MOMENT THAT GOES BY SO QUICKLY YOU HARDLY CATCH IT GOING… Then the Manic Street Preachers walked onto the stage.
Opening with International Blue hearing numbers from Resistance Is Futile live, the music becomes classic Manic Street Preachers. Hearing the band playing the tracks selected from the album tonight gives them shape, the context in which they come alive. The thirteenth album recorded at their new studio, which has transformed a Caerleon cottage into Door to the River Studio. Wales is never far from the Blackwood rock stars, as the Welsh flags draped over Nick Wire’s, bass cab, tonight it was a homecoming, the welcome was rapturous before a note was played. The Manics then went back in time, this was no hard sell of the latest album tonight was a celebration of the guitar-led rock we love. With Motorcycle Emptiness the second number in, we were back to 1992 and their debut album Generation Terrorists. We were young again. The album was re-visited with You Love Us and almost the last song the wonderful Slash ‘n’ Burn.
The rarely played Horses Under Starlight, was a gentler vibe laid back giving us a moment to reflect and soak in the music as the Arena became a jazz club. The mood changed with Motown Junk followed by stage effects; as canons at the side of the stage propelled tickertape high into the area at the end of If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next.
Throughout the mega show, every song was accompanied by a stunning video, with thought-provoking quotes and visuals that gave the songs a fourth dimension. The whole set was nuanced given the latest album its place as a great Manics album. Every track played shone out, this set demonstrated the depth and range of style the Manics have always played. Resistance is Futile is a progression the band is still growing a developing their musical discography. They are not set in a logjam created by past glories. The solo acoustic set from James Dean Bradfield was mesmerising, he stood on a huge stage and held the excited and noisy audience in the palm of his had. We were all captives of his vocals and guitar as he played Faster and Stay Beautiful with the powerful backdrop including ‘ I paint the thing I want to see’. The clapping cascaded throughout the auditorium reaching a crescendo of pure joy. Frankie Valli got an airing with Can’t Take My Eyes Off You. It was true as five-thousand eyes bore down on a lone man on the stage delivering pure entertainment.
We cannot escape our history and never far from peoples minds was Richey Edwards. Richey will never be forgotten by the band with songs dedicated to him, and his absence still felt. Blackwood got a mention, as they reminisced about playing in the Red lion, now shut down like everything else!
Tonight was more than what numbers were played, what album they were from it was capturing memories in a time capsule the night where Cardiff celebrated Welsh Rock once again. The banter between James Dean Bradfield and the audience was warm, he was amongst friends. Fans, who had travelled with the Manics through the highs and the lows.
With the band returned and Nicky had time for a costume change they hit the arena with You Love Us quickly followed by Walk Me To The Bridge. We were rocking out again.
Thirty years on and the band still are skillfully weaving the new material into old favourites. With anthems and choruses, we all sung with national pride and enthusiasm. Closing with A Design For Life from Everything Must Go. The singing and clapping rose to new heights, surprisingly the Motorpoint still had a roof as the last note faded away.
Tonight, with twenty-four Manic anthems whirling in our heads, the fans talked to each other in a loud voice that was ‘bloody marvellous’ that was my gig of a lifetime’ that was awesome’ and chants we love the Manics. Musc and especially Manic Street Preachers fans were happy tonight in Cardiff and a Bank Holiday weekend beckoned.
No Surface All Feeling
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
4 Ever Delayed
Dylan & Caitlin
You Stole The Sun from My Heart
Everything Must Go
The Masses Against the Classes
Horses Under Starlight
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Frankie Valli cover)
Stay Beautiful (James Dean Bradfield solo acoustic)
You Love Us
Walk Me to the Bridge
Hold Me Like a Heaven
No Feelings (Sex Pistol cover)
People Give In
Slash ‘n’ Burn
A Design For Life
James Dean Bradfield – lead vocals, Guitar
Nicky Wire – Bass Guitar
Sean Moore – Drums
Wayne Murray Backing Vocals Rhythm Guitar
Nick Nasmyth Keyboards