On Saturday 28th April 2018, Manic Street Preachers returned to Manchester for the first time since their double whammy of gigs at the Albert Hall in 2014, in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of ‘The Holy Bible’ album. This time around, the band were (and currently are) in the midst of touring their new album ‘Resistance Is Futile’ and played at Manchester Arena for the first time in fourteen years.
The soaring guitar line of ‘International Blue’ got the night off to a great start, with the albums lead single claiming it’s place as a worthy opener, before the band dived into the crowd pleasing ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, followed by ‘Everything Must Go’ favourite ‘No Surface All Feeling’. The Manics are a band with a wealth of material behind them and sure enough, they know just how to balance them to create a strong set list.
Fairly early into the set, front man James Dean Bradfield introduced fellow Welsh singer The Anchoress (aka Catherine Anne Davies) to the stage, who sings on two ‘Resistance is Futile’ tracks; ‘Vivian’ and ‘Dylan and Caitlin’. Looking the part in a leopard print suit, The Anchoress flawlessly performed both ‘Dylan and Caitlin’ and ‘Generation Terrorists’ track ‘Little Baby Nothing’, leaving the stage to rapturous applause from the awestruck crowd. As witty as ever, bassist Nicky Wire complimented The Anchoress’ outfit, speaking in despair about the lack of stylish men’s clothes – however, this mustn’t hold him back too much as he was sporting a pair of shiny silver trousers!
Bradfield took things down a notch when the rest of the band departed the stage, leaving just him and an acoustic guitar. Often described by Wire as his (and everyone’s) guitar hero, it was mesmerising to watch his intricate guitar work as he played acoustic renditions of ‘Faster’ and ‘Everything Must Go’; confidently able to take the occasional step back from his microphone and let the crowd take over his vocals, that were stronger than ever.
There aren’t many bands who bring to the stage what the Manics do and whilst you never hear drummer Sean Moore speak throughout a gig, he’s the bands driving beat; demonstrating that in particular when the band took things back to the start with the raucous ‘Generation Terrorists’ tracks ‘You Love Us’ and ‘Slash ‘n’ Burn’. Though it’s not just the old tracks that got the crowd going, with ‘Resistance Is Futile’ tracks ‘People Give In’ and the anthemic ‘Hold Me Like A Heaven’ both sounding huge and right at home in a set list of treasures.
Thirteen albums down, the band sounded as extraordinary as ever and based on the combination of Wire’s legendary struts around the stage and Bradfield’s bounces and guitar spins alone, it’s evident that they’re feeling it and still enjoying every moment. The last few years in Manics World have been full of anniversary releases and tours, which have been great but it’s even greater to have the band back producing new music and airing their genius creations, both on their current tour and at various upcoming festivals over the Summer.