Thirty-three years together as a band, thirteen studio albums released and a whole host of unbelievable career highs and inexplicable personal lows which would have ended the careers of many groups down the years The Manic Street Preachers have become, dare I say it, national treasures. Tonight sees them celebrate the twentieth anniversary of their classic album ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ – a record that cemented their place in the British mainstream music scene and is still their largest selling record to date.
Starting with album opener ‘The Everlasting’ it’s refreshing to hear the full band version of a song usually played live by James Dean-Bradfield as a solo acoustic number. As the set more or less follows the album’s track listing we get the big singles like ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ and ‘Tsunami’ early doors with both songs offering expansive sing-along choruses. After this initial rush however things get a little subdued as the middle section of the album with it’s more reflective tone is aired. Despite it’s huge sales, ‘This Is My Truth…’ certainly is an album loved and loathed in equal measure. A reason for the more muted critical response to it is perhaps the melancholic nature of tracks like ‘My Little Empire’ or the slow burning structure of ‘You’re Tender and You’re Tired’ which on record sit right in the middle of the song order. Arguably perfectly placed when listening alone but when played live and in a row create a slight lull. In fact, Nicky Wire details to the crowd how the album was written ‘on a haze of painkillers’, almost verging on self-deprecation when he reminds us that they ‘do quicken the pace later on’ when introducing ‘I’m Not Working’. Things do pick up with the ethereal ‘Be Natural’ which fills the venue whilst the intricacies of tracklisting an album vs a set list is made clear with the inclusion of ‘Prologue To History’ – a previous B-side recorded at the time of the album which gives the set an injection of pace. Finally, they hit us with the album’s second track and the band’s biggest single ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’. It’s anti-fascist sentiment feels highly apt in today’s climate and the crowd lap it up.
Like their celebratory tours of seminal LPs ‘The Holy Bible’ and ‘Everything Must Go’, the set list is split into a full rundown of the album track by track followed by a slightly shorter collection of their greatest hits and crowd favourites. ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’ is greeted warmly, Wire bouncing around the stage still looking like the coolest person here. Classics such as ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ‘La Tristesse Durera’ are huge moments before the muscular big riffs of fan favourite ‘No Surface All Feeling’; a personal highlight of tonight’s set. At the set’s conclusion the inevitable, celebratory ‘Design for Life’ is played and as always when it comes to the Manics this is reflected by the inevitable, celebratory crowd response that fills the venue.
So, yes, over thirty years together with everything that has gone on throughout, these three dragons still have fire in their bellies. A truly relevant band who continue to put on shows full of vigour and emotion; celebrating an album that still resonates deeply today.
Photos by Rich Emblen