There are few bands still around to celebrate 20 years of their seminal album, let alone one on top form, but the Manics are and they are celebrating Everything Must Go, the album that propelled them into the mainstream, in style. ‘So nice of you to remember.’ quiped James Dean Bradfield to the Hydro.
James was first on stage and as he began Elvis Impresonator Blackpool Pier he was greated by the crowd singing ’20 foot high on Blackpool Prominade’ right back at him before the rest of the band joined him for the first of many big choruses of the night.
Second song on Everything Must Go, Design for Life, had the whole crowd singing and swaying along as the band proved they were still at the top of their game. This usually ends their live shows and it’s easy to see why. It’s a massive song that has a huge sing along chorus and a difficult act to follow.
‘This is from the last set of lyrics Richey ever physically handed us.’ said James, introducing an acoustic version of Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky which gave themselves and the crowd a second to catch their breath. Richy, who has been missing for over twenty years, was a presence in the lyrics he wrote and in some of the stage projections which took in arthouse, their music videos and touching home recorded footage.
Bassist Nicky Wire was scissor-kicking and high-jumping his way through the set with great energy but this was not without problems as his customary make up started running into his eyes ‘It’s a beautiful kind of pain.’ he told the assembled audience.
After No Surface All Feeling finished the first half the crowd were covered in green, white and red streamers which were caught by smiling fans. ‘we’ll be back in five minutes even stronger.’ promised James.
They took a short break and as Nicky Wire finished his costume change, James entertained the crowd with acoustic versions of Suicide is Painless and Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head with added trumpet.
The rest of the band returned and the second half was a whistle-stop tour of their career. Motorcycle emptiness, which was delivered with just about the same enthusiasm and energy as when it was first released nearly 25 years ago, and Walk me to The Bridge, from their most recent album Futurology, sat comfortably alongside each other.
Early gem, Natwest-Barclays- Midlands-Lloyds were a highlight for many who have followed the band since the early days and the band recalled playing King Tuts in the early 90s to about 10 people.
The final climax of You Love Us and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will be Next prompts a final huge burst of energy both on and off stage with the band encouraging and already very up for it crowd. ‘gigs like this is one reason we’re still in a band.’ said James and, judging by his now customery selfies, Nicky had also loved every second of the show.
Gigs like this prove that the Manic Street Preachers never disappoint and, above all, that there will always be a place for them. Their shows are never forgettable.
Now read a review of the Holy Bible show at the Barrowlands from 2014.