The Holy Bible is a raw, bruising, nihilistic, yet somehow completely life-affirming work and to see it played live was an incredible experience. You can find out more details about the album on its Wikipedia page or if you're pushed for time, I also wrote a short piece about it for the 2012 A-Z Challenge.
|The Manics in 1994 (l-r): Sean Moore, Nicky Wire, |
James Dean Bradfield, Richey Edwards
When I heard about this tour, I wasn't sure if the band could pull off such a feat as performing this album with the energy it demanded but I needn't have worried. The crowd were in the palm of the band's hand - we had a great view of both from our position up in the gallery - and despite the frenetic pace of most of the hour's set, with crowdsurfers aplenty, there were a couple of occasions when the audience stood completely still and you could have heard a pin drop. These were during the gut wrenching outro to "4st 7lb", a song told from the perspective of a teenage anorexic hovering on the verge of death, when the song completely slows down and a repeating chord structure accompanies lines of awful acceptance such as "Such beautiful dignity in self-abuse"; and again during the entire harrowing six minutes of "The Intense Humming of Evil", which tackles the horrors of the Holocaust - and those who would deny it - head on. This song had not been played since 1994, and on record it has a uniquely unsettling power which was only amplified live. In one of the greatest sequencing tricks, we were then plucked from the lowest point and thrown back into the triumphant melee of "PCP", a fiery punk anthem which closes the album by questioning political correctness and the control of our lives by governments.
After a ten-minute break, the band came back on to run through a spirited hits set featuring some of their most popular songs such as "Motorcycle Emptiness", "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next", "You Stole the Sun From My Heart", and "You Love Us". This was where they got to loosen up after the exertion of playing the Holy Bible and they pulled off some of their trademark stage moves including James's spins and bassist Nicky's scissor kicks. Despite the fairly predictable nature of the set, they still pulled out a couple of surprises, including the first ever live showing of the rifftastic "Condemned to Rock 'n' Roll", which closed their 1992 debut album Generation Terrorists. The night finished on a stirring rendition of "A Design For Life", the working-class anthem which relaunched them following the loss of their childhood friend, Richey.
I didn't get any pictures or video from the night, so here's a photo of the band in their 1994 uniforms, and below, the video for "Faster", the blistering lead single from The Holy Bible.
Have you been to any good concerts recently?