There was a mixture trepidation and anticipation at the Barrowlands. The Manic street preachers would be playing the holy bible in its entirety tonight but would three middle aged guys be able to pull off an album that they and Richey Edwards wrote as twenty somethings full of passion, frustration and angst? Less than an hour later the resounding answer from the Barrowland crowd would be yes, they can.
The Manics rip through the holy bible with barely a word except bass player Nicky Wire saying Merry fucking Christmas just before this is yesterday and James Dean Bradfield saying “It goes without saying this is for Richey James Edwards,” Edwards’ contribution to the album was immense and there is a telling gap stage right where once he stood.
They are playing the preamble to the songs as well and when Lady Thatcher is mentioned before ifwhiteamericatodthetruthforonedayitswordwouldfallapart there are loud boos from the crowd who are loving every moment. They’re singing along like pros especially with lines like ‘who’s responsible? You fucking are.’ from Of Walking Abortion.
Throughout Sean Moore does what he does best. He works hard at the back and quietly gets on with the job. If you watch him for a minute you will find his beats hypnotic particularly during the intense humming of evil.
Once they’ve got through the holy bible they leave the stage promising to be back to ‘fuck things up’.
There is a costume change. Wire changes from camouflage to White jacket and Dean Bradfield exchanges a sailor suit for a dapper suit of which the tie is quickly tucked in the shirt.
For the second half the band seems more themselves. Both band and audience were out of their comfort zone in the first half. They are joined by guitarist Wayne Murray.
They begin with motorcycle emptiness and things just keep getting more and more mental. There had already been young guys, barely born when the holy bible came out, crowd surfing and swiftly given a talking to by security and older guys, about the age of the band themselves nearer the back nodding in appreciation.
To bring us up to date songs from their most recent album futurology are played with the title track and Europa Ghet Durch Mich.
To the delight of the crowd they return to more familiar tunes for the finish. If you tolerate this then Your children will be next and Design For Life are played leaving the crowd are utterly euphoric.
To remain relevant for over twenty years needs skill, talent and an incredible catalogue of songs. Playing the holy bible could have gone so wrong for Wales, favourite sons but tonight they proved they still have it and certainly show no signs of stopping.