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Manic Street Preachers + Wolf Alice @ Wolverhampton Civic, UK – 6 April 2014

Tonight we’re back in Wolverhampton to see a band who took on the world, and then refused to go away. From the Gig Junkies team on our musical journey of the UK,  we bring you the boys from the Welsh valleys; formed nearly 30 years ago, in Blackwood, Wales, these guys are here to show us their best – that this is their truth – and they’ll be preaching Manic Street Preachers style.

Manic Street Preachers, like I need to say, are James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore. Formed in ’86 – they started out full of punk and indie angst – with a mentality of short-term take on the world, with critical intellectual social lyrics and a view of we’re not going to be doing this beyond 30. Well life takes a curious course, if at times truly difficult course. The Manics rose out of indieness for their  ‘Everything Must Go’ ’96 album, using lyrics from recently disappeared Richie Edwards. Through their career had 11 top ten albums, 15 top ten singles and have been back recording recently, with so much stuff to say they’re issuing it in two parts. ‘Rewind the Film’ came out in 2013 to critical acclaim, ‘Futurology’ is due to be released shortly. Tonight’s gig we’re promised songs from ‘Rewind…’ , a selection of their old back catalogue and a preview of the future.

Tonight’s gig is sold out. 3,000 punters will be here tonight, and as the Hall fills, we expectantly wait as support Wolf Alice, take to the stage. Wolf Alice are a four-piece hailing from North London consisting of  Ellie Rowsell, Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis. Releasing a self titled EP and single ‘Leaving You’ they gained air play from BBC Radio 1 and plaudits from NME. In October they issued new EP ‘Blush’ and official single ‘She’, and in may they will release next EP ‘Creature Songs.’ With female lead Rowsell, they are indie at times, or full of angst, whilst others more heavy. Think Hole meets Cocteau Twins meets Naked and Famous. They get a good response from the crowd.

ManicsSo at 9.10, on the huge screen that fills the backdrop behind the set – a video of a soldier girl walking through hills and street – and words…‘Future is our only objective.’ We watch and wait – the expectant crowd clapping as the Manics take to the stage.

First up ‘La Tristessa’ as we sing and join in – Wire in shades and black suit – Bradfield singing in grey suit. Big cheer from the crowd as they enjoyed listening, followed by another which we all sing loudly, every single word: ‘You Stole the Sun from My Heart.’ “I love you all the same….” we sing.

So let’s make it a trio – as they deliver ‘Mototorcycle Emptiness.’ The Manics are cranking out the hits: the crowd sing ever louder as we watch the screen of old footage, video footage of the band from the time – including Richie. He’s still here in spirit.

“Hello there,” welcome Bradfield, “Thanks for coming out on a Sunday and making it feel like a Saturday – great to be back in such a rock and roll mega city…” as they roll into recent single ‘(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love’. We clap along.

And so to the preview of the future – from the forthcoming album “raging against the dying of rights and all that bollocks…” this track features German singer – who isn’t here tonight. As it’s in German and Bradfield tells us his German skills are bollocks  we should expect to hear her voice through the speakers and imagine that she was here. This is not the first time a guest vocalist who is on a track is not here – Bradfield tells us we’ll have to put up with him instead. But as usual he delivers a great performance regardless. And so to this German Track ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ – English translation adorn the screen over her German words.

‘Everything Must Go’ we’re in full voice agin – the packed crowd enjoying themselves. The screen shows 3D squares and houses and building and corridors.

“Give yourselves a break – and your heads a rest” as we’re into title track of their previous album ‘Rewind the Film’. As stated above Richard Hawley isn’t here – so Bradfield is on vocal duties, as we watch a film of a man opening a social club, the locals laying bingo and then closing up. The Manics still remain in reflective social observational mood.

Bradfield asks us if they played here on ‘The Holy Bible’ tour – “harding f***ing core” and dedicates the next track to the “… superb f***ing intellect of Richie Edwards” as they take us into ‘Die in Summertime’.  Bit of a f*** up as Bradfield gets the setlist order wrong – apparently by this time in a tour he’s usually done this five times by now – but this is the first. “Must be the suit..” quips Wire. And we’re back on track with the correct track ‘Your Love Alone is Not Enough.’ And so the track Bradfield announced previously – written in a big Chateaux in France – ‘Enola Alone.’

As the set turns red, we immediately recognise the next track – ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ – and we sing as the track rolls and rolls.

The band desert Bradfield he’s left alone, mid stage with acoustic guitar. He’s not taking requests. ‘This is Yesterday’ morphs into ‘From Despair to Where’ – we join his singing – before he delivers us ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ (which should actually feature Lucy Rose, who incredibly recorded it in just two takes, but as previously said is not here tonight). Bradfield vocals are the usual reliable sublime yet powerful.

Band back on and we’re delivered ‘Masses Against The Classes’ – before the Manics go back to their angry against the world youth with ‘You Love Us.’ ‘Tsumani’ washes over us, before ’30 year War’, ‘Motown Junk’ completed by ‘Design For Life.’

The Manics have had one hell of a journey since they started out in the mid 80’s as angry young Welshmen preaching of culture, alienation, boredom and despair. Edwards may be long gone – but he’s certainly not forgotten – he remains the core, the floating spirit of the band. So from anarchy to commerciality – they went on to have great success, critically acclaimed, but have never lost the need to say something. To use intellect in their lyric not mundanity. The Manics ‘live’ have never disappointed, solid, professional – a reliable performance to enjoy – from old to new and then the future.

There was no need to tolerate tonight’s gig – the Manics gave us an insight into who they are and what they stand for in their own unique way. Looks like the future is ‘Futurology’ indeed.

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Setlist:
La Tristessa
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 Summertime
Your Love Alone is Not Enough
Enola Alone
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
This is Yesterday
From Despair to Where
This Sullen Welsh Heart
Archives of Pain
Futurology
The Masses Against the Classes
You Love Us
Tsumani
30-Year War
Motown Junk
A Design for Life

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Review for Gig Junkies; Pictures by Ken Harrison.