RELEASED 20 years ago, The Holy Bible was the album where the Manic Street Preachers got serious and were taken seriously – a caustic, candid and claustrophobic classic which took on greater resonance when guitarist and chief lyricist Richey Edwards went missing a few months after its release.
Manic Street Preachers
Over the years, its cathartic depiction of self-harm and suicide might just have saved a few lives but it remains a dense proposition and it’s probably with good reason that the band have not played some of the material live since it was released.
For this anniversary tour, the remaining three-piece have chosen to recreate the confrontational look of the time, with the stage draped in camouflage netting and stocky frontman James Dean Bradfield unsettling in a sailor suit, and they stuck close to the sound if not quite the spirit of the music.
The original track listing was dispensed in order, complete with the album’s plethora of evocative vocal samples, but their performance never quite achieved lift-off despite some meaty, knotted post-punk guitar work from Bradfield.
Although The Holy Bible is not exactly endowed with anthems, the crowd seized on the more singalongable refrains from Of Walking Abortion and Die In The Summertime. Join in if you know the lyrics... “Happy f***ing Christmas,” noted bassist Nicky Wire wryly, before (relatively) light relief arrived in a second half bookended by the mighty Motorcycle Emptiness and Design For Life.
Seen on 08.12.14