Monday, 27 July 2015

Gig Review - Manic Street Preachers play The Holy Bible in Edinburgh

So, my wife and I got tickets to see Welsh rock act Manic Street Preachers on the second leg of their UK tour to promote the 20th anniversary of their seminal album The Holy Bible. What a gig!

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
The gig, on 30th May in Edinburgh's plush Usher Hall, was something special indeed. The band had recreated some of the look of the original 1994 tour for the album, including military-type outfits and camouflage netting on stage. This is a confrontational album which attacks many political and societal targets. The atmosphere was intense and the Manics proved that despite mellowing somewhat in the years since the album (and the 1995 disappearance of troubled rhythm guitarist and principal lyricist for the Holy Bible, Richey Edwards), they can still launch a blistering live assault when the occasion demands. The hardcore faithful were singing along with every word and singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield was happy to let them take over on lead vocals when he had to take a breath.

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?

16 comments:

Blogoratti said...

It must have been a fun event, and great review. I'll be sure to check them out. Greetings!

JeffO said...

Alas, the video is not visible across the pond. I'm glad you had such a good time. I have seen The Who perform both Tommy and Quadrophenia--those are very memorable shows, quite a lot of impact.

Medeia Sharif said...

I love rock, but haven't listened to this band before. The video doesn't work for me, but I'll try searching on my own. I haven't been to a concert in ages.

betty said...

I have not heard of them before; will come back in a bit and listen to the video you featured here. Sounded like a very interesting concert; I can't imagine the crowd anywhere being that quiet during parts of the performance :)

betty

Caitlin Lane said...

Sounds like it was a blast! Unfortunately, had the same problem as JeffO. I'll have to do a YouTube search to see what I can find. Oh man, but the last concert I went to was Flogging Molly back when I still lived in Memphis...and was pregnant with my oldest kid, lol.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Always awesome when a band can really deliver.

Liz A. said...

Sounds like a great show.

J E Oneil said...

That sounds awesome. I wish I could have been there! The video was great. I'll have to remember them.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds very exciting. The video wouldn't play 'in my country.' I'll look for something on Youtube
Susan Says

TBM said...

I'm trying to remember the last concert I went to and can't. I think I need to get out more. Glad you enjoyed.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - so pleased you had such a good time ... sounds amazing. I'm not happy in crowds ... but what a great opportunity you took up ... happy memories .. cheers Hilary

Emily R. King said...

Glad you had a wonderful time with your wife! You have lots of great memories you'll have forever.

E. Arroyo said...

Concert? Like with a live band? Nope. Glad you had fun!

Melissa said...

With a name like that, I'm a little scared to research them. LOL

Glad you had a good time. :)

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Misha Gericke said...

Sounds like it was an experience to remember. :-)