“WHAT a lovely bunch,” said Nicky Wire, still the politest revolutionary out there. “You make three 50-year-olds feel very energetic.” More than 30 years since Manic Street Preachers unleashed their first single, this nostalgic anniversary show was for an album which arrived a decade into their existence, their fifth and most successful record: This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours.
Manic Street Preachers, Usher Hall, Edinburgh ****
The first half of the show was an almost in-order reading of the album, offering the familiar pop hooks of The Everlasting, You Stole the Sun from My Heart and Tsunami alongside fan-pleasing readings of little-played songs like Black Dog on My Shoulder and the Bond-like S.Y.M.M. The running order was changed to allow If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next to go last, a song which might as well soundtrack the nightly news.
After this false finale, a selection of hits and other bits demonstrated with a swagger not only the group’s unfailing ability for great pop music and effective sloganeering, but also their sheer power as a live band. Amid the exquisite melancholy of Your Love Alone is Not Enough and A Design for Life, and the raw power of Motorcycle Emptiness and La Tristesse Durera, Wire paid emotional tribute as ever to the band’s fallen fourth member, Richey Edwards, before the serrated You Love Us.
James Dean Bradfield’s roaring vocal, meanwhile, was deployed on a ferocious, unexpected cover of Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine. “You think we’re miserable f***ers,” smiled Wire, “but we can have fun.” They can dish it out too.