When you have the CD in your hands, you can hardly understand it , but it is twenty years ago that Manic Street Preachers released Everything Must Go. Life is just a flash, and you’re barely able to fully enjoy the beauty of it. Partly out of nostalgia , and probably also partly from financial gain , the glam rockers from Wales decided to perform their fourth album that made them stars in the British hit parade fully live.
During the heyday of Britpop, Oasis and Blur were bickering about who had the biggest mouth, but at the end of the day the Manics did in the UK what was rarely seen before. Nearly every teenager who felt uncomfortable, associated himself with the jet black guitar rock. They started out to get dressed like the stars and the sales of cheap eyeliner were rising, and not to speak of the fact that nearly every devoted fan started his own Manics fanzine with a copier. Perhaps Manic Street Preachers is the only band that sounds goth rock, but never ended up in that category. The group used slogans with a left character and the songs contained a very high degree of nihilism. Indeed, an act that was destined to become the preeminent cult band and was reinforced by the sad fact that guitarist Richey James Edwards disappeared on February 1, 1995. Until today, nobody knows what happened, but considering Richey’s psychological problems, it was probably suicide. The band was devasted, but decided to go ahead and reached what Richey never experienced: the Manics became the greatest band.
Still incredibly popular over the North Sea, but what about Belgium? Albums like Rewind The Film and Futurology are great (and even innovative), but today the band hasn’t the success of yesteryear over here. Yesterday we saw an almost sold-out AB, which of course has a lot to do with the fact that the band plays on safe: the most popular album, complemented with a set of biggest hits. Indeed, the wet dream of every indie fanatic who bought the NME or Melody Maker in his youth.
The fourth CD was played from the first to the last note (and in the same order). What can you say about a perfect record that is played by the perfect band? Nothing really, except that Nicky Wire was silent and that James Dean Bradfield had something nice to tell after each song. Highlights? All of them, and it was a unique opportunity to enjoy songs that you will probably never hear on stage again (The Girl Who Wanted To Be God, Removables, which is written by Richey, Interiors, Enola/Alone and No Surface All Feeling). And what about those hits? Well, try to come up with something as impressive as A Design For Life, Australia or Kevin Carter.
After playing the entire album, Bradfield chatted a bit with his fans and made some jokes about his failed solo career. The band came back with an anthology of the most beautiful songs of its career. They were all played: from the somewhat forgotten Roses In The Hospital to that wonderful super hit Motorcycline Emptiness. The front rows exploded during You Love Us: glam punk as only Bowie could have written, a song that makes you think: kiss my ass and let me alone with my Manics!
Nat West – Barclays – Midlands – Lloyds in which the Manics denounced the banking system, still has the same impact as 24 years ago as those wankers still rule. The gripping Suicide Is Painless from the MASH series or the relatively recent Walk Me To The Bridge: they all conjured a smile on the faces of Manic fans who were happy that the Welsh gods were still at their best.
The singalong You Stole The Sun From My Heart was a winner too, and then suddenly Nicky began to talk about football. Wales vs Belgium would be the dream final for him. Keep on dreaming dear;, the band started the ultimate moment of the evening: a cover of Fiction Factory’s (Feels Like) Heaven. Next to me a woman was weeping , I understood… when James sang: Twisting the bones until they snap, I scream but no one knows, it was also too much for me and I was in tears myself. A Manics fan is more than someone who sucks up the music, he lets it penetrate into his body, a liquid that slowly creeps into his brains and then explodes. Call it what you want, but it feels like heaven…
The impressive gig ended with If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next. Nearly two hours of ecstasy, don’t disappear Manic Street Preachers, we still need you after all these years!