Manic Street Preachers at Newport Centre

5 stars (out of 5)

3

It’s difficult to believe that it’s been 20 years and it’s an understatement to say that it’s been a roller-coaster.  This is the closest thing to a hometown gig on the tour and there’s a lot of love and mutual respect here.  The audience looks a lot older than at the last London show I saw and the reason is that most of these people are the fans that were there at the beginning.  This is an audience primed and waiting for the fuse to be lit.  The flamethrower that ignites it is “You Love Us” and Newport Centre erupts; the Manics are back in town.

James is trying not to swear too much because his dad’s here and Nicky manages a whole gig with only 1 costume change.  It would be easy to be complacent on a night like this but the Manics just don’t work that way; they’re incendiary from start to finish.  Songs from “Postcards from a Young Man” feature throughout the set and are well received by the partisan crowd, particularly the title song.  The strength of the performance, however is in the Manics back catalogue and their ability to deliver them with just as much venom as when they were originally recorded, although between songs the love and respect within the band and between the band and the audience is obvious.  There are a lot of references to Richey tonight and the tone is one of fond remembrance, which suggests that maybe the band are beginning to come to terms with that particular tragedy.

While they’re on the fond memories, James takes the opportunity to mention Newport’s finest, the legendary 60 Ft Dolls and give a mention to Rockfield studio as well as reminiscing about TJ’s in Newport. Apart from the new material, the set is a greatest hits package delivered with all the fire of a band on their first tour.  There’s at least 1 song from every album here (except “Lifeblood” as James helpfully points out) and all of the classics get the treatment, including storming versions of “Motorcycle Emptiness”, “La Tristessa Durera” and “Everything Must Go”.  With so many great songs to choose from, it’s inevitable that some favourites will be left out, but the quality of what they do play is so high that it just doesn’t matter.

Manic Newport Evening

Manics on stage - via Watt_Dabney on Flickr

James does his usual acoustic set before being rejoined by the rest of the band for the last onslaught of the night, ending with the inevitable assault on “Motown Junk” when even the seated section of the venue is brought to its feet.  It’s great to see that Musos’ Corner, as James calls the additional musicians added for the tour are namechecked along with the rest of the band instead of being hidden in the shadows. And that’s it, out into the Newport night.

After a performance like this, it’s easy to see why the Manics inspire such fanatical devotion; they don’t let up for a minute and they’re totally committed to what they do.  With great songs, great playing and singing, what more could you ask for?