IT’S strange to say, given the chaos and controversy of their early years, but Manic Street Preachers are quite the reliable draw these days, never less than a solid live proposition, though too often nothing more.
Hydro, Glasgow ***
Setlist is key. As bassist Nicky Wire has attested “there’s just so much there”. The classic albums, The Holy Bible and Everything Must Go, have been toured in their entirety for their anniversary re-issues; now was the time to persuade the fans in favour of their optimistically titled new album, Resistance Is Futile, slamming straight into International Blue, as beefy and catchy as anything in their arsenal.
No other new song had quite that impact though they kept the set breezing along blithely with some of their strongest, poppiest singles from Your Love Alone Is Not Enough to You Stole the Sun from My Heart.
The intrigue lay in the deeper recesses of their back catalogue – 4 Ever Delayed, performed for the first time in ten years, the easy listening instrumental Horses Under Starlight, sticking out like an excerpt from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a badge of their confidence and, less confidently, early album track Sleepflower, so rarely played that frontman James Dean Bradfield tackled it alone with a lyric crib sheet.
While such rarities pleased the hardcore of fans at the front, it took the enduring mightiness of Motorcycle Emptiness, dignified anger of If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, and the deathless Design For Life, accompanied by rather incongruous glitter showers, to galvanise the whole room.