On the road to promote their much-acclaimed 13th album, which was a place shy of topping the UK charts, Manic Street Preachers showed they are far from becoming a heritage act. Their diary sees them soon take to Europe for prestigious support slots with Guns 'n' Roses, before they embark on the festival circuit.
A combo of 'International Blue' and the classic 'Motorcycle Emptiness' is about as impressive an opening as you can get, also acting as a reminder of the dexterous guitar abilities of James Dean Bradfield. From there the Welsh titans take a decent stab of a potted history, while also avoiding a safe 'hits only' set to reward their hardcore fans - album tracks and B-sides feature in the shape of 'No Surface All Feeling', '4 Ever Delayed' and 'Horses Under Starlight'. While these may not be familiar to all in attendance, few British acts have artillery of the standard of 'The Masses Against The Classes', 'If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next' and 'You Stole The Sun From My Heart' to stir the senses.
The destructive anthems are momentarily parked for a short acoustic set in which 'Faster' works surprisingly well and a burst of 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You' is dedicated to the local and Welsh icon Gary Speed. New cuts sound splendid on stage, highlights of which are the huge 'Hold Me Like A Heaven' and 'Distant Colours'. Perhaps the nicest aspect of the show is the tangible friendship between Bradfield and Nicky Wire, channelled through an on-going narrative in-between performing which covers recent news about Gibson guitars and harks back to school football teams over 40 years ago. It is this connection and the one forged with their fans through a superb catalogue which keeps the Manics a force to be reckoned with.
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