MANIC STREET PREACHERS // USHER HALL, EDINBURGH
Intellectual punks turned elder statesman deliver exquisite set at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh
Back in the early 90s, The Manic Street Preachers were a web of contradictions and firebrand statements (they promised to sell 1 million copies of their debut album and disband, of course thankfully they didn’t). Now 26 years after their first album, Generation Terrorists, in many ways they are still as contradictory as ever. The Manics remain trying to push forward with new music (2014’s acclaimed Futurology and last years less successful Resistance Is Futile) while throughout also performing nostalgic anniversary tours of each of their vital 90s albums The Holy Bible, Everything Must Go and This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
The last of these tours is the 20th anniversary of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. Tonight, the group are supported by Gwenno. Gwenno plays dreamy indie pop sung in Welsh. She is an arresting singer and delivers a very good but brief set. The highlight of this being the breezy and engaging Tir Ha Mor.
After this the Manics take to the stage, playing a slightly rearranged This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours in full. The album is a curious mix of depressed downbeat introspection and sometimes upbeat social-political anthems. The album was also the apex of a trend for the Manics to concentrate on writing huge choruses with without the punk edge that of their earlier music. The opening four songs; The Everlasting, You Stole the Sun from My Heart, Ready for Drowning and Tsunami illustrate this effectively.
The quiet intro of Everlasting is greeted enthusiastically before they launch into the desperate sign of the refrain, then the crowd are up and bouncing with the rush of slightly tongue in cheek anti touring statement You Stole the Sun with its excellent chorus baiting everyone to sing along. While, Tsunami’s keyboard still sounds immensely devasting, as each chime sounds like a desperate attempt to cleanse away a terrible regret. Ready for Drowning weaves deft verses about the plight of immigrants with an upbeat defiant keyboard line and sounds positively inspiring.
After these songs the band are firmly into the midsection of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, playing the more subdued songs. The maudlin My Little Empire is ran through rather beautifully with it’s nihilistic lyrics standing out. Though some in the audience may want to hear the hits, it is apparent long-time fans are enjoying the opportunity to hear rarities. I’m Not Working and You’re Tender and You’re Tired encapsulate a perfect musical depiction of frustration and depression. Though, Born A Girl suffers from the keyboards being too loud robbing the song of haunting misfit beauty.
Ultimately, the show does lose some momentum with the plodding pace of Be Natural and Black Dog on my Shoulder leaving the audience a bit flat. However with the roaring punk of Prologue to History (a b-side played instead of Nobody Loved You), there is real bile to way James spits out the tirade of fury in the lyrics giving the show back some vital intensity. This is followed by stirring and climatic If You Tolerate This your Children Will Be Next, wisely kept to the end of the main set.
After this the Manics then play some classic from there wide ranging back catalogue. This portion of the set is opened with the awe-inspiring Motorcycle Emptiness which beautifully portrays the isolation of the modern world. Rarities like the riff heavy Sleepflower and a stunning version of Solitude Sometimes Is continue to satisfy the fans looking for rarities.
After taking a moment to pay tribute to the many great musical acts from Scotland that shaped them, and to the surprise of everyone the band then cover Sweet Child O’ Mine. Though the word certainly does not need another Gun’s n Roses cover it suits them. As James nails the guitar solo providing further evidence of his virtuoso abilities and a fitting tribute to a group that have influenced them.
The band then performed the touching yet dynamic No Surface But All Feeling, whose lyrics seem to comment on the close relationship between the sadly missing presumed deceased former guitarist/lyrist Richey Edwards and the bass player/lyricist Nicky Wire. As is customary they close with the timeless working class anthem A Design for Life. A perfect end to an excellent show. Though the Manics, may not be the punk upstarts of their youth their desire to continue putting on thrilling live shows showcasing all the back catalogue makes them a different but equally absorbing proposition.
SETLIST: | MANIC STREET PREACHERS : USHER HALL, EDINBURGH - 26.05.2019
IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE NEXT - (David Holmes remix) - INTRO
This is My Truth Tell Me Yours:
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Ready for Drowning
My Little Empire
I’m Not Working
You’re Tender and You’re Tired
Born a Girl
Black Dog on My Shoulder
Prologue to History
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Hits & Others:
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
Solitude Sometimes Is
Sweet Child O’ Mine - (Guns N’ Roses cover) - Live Debut by the Manics
La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
You Love Us
No Surface All Feeling
A Design for Life