Manic Street Preachers: SSE Hydro, Glasgow 25/04/2017

❉ Resistance is useless as the Manics bring the bravado to the stage, playing with every ounce of their beings; writes Eoghan Lyng.

Photo: © Alex Lake

And they’re off, James Dean Bradfield straddles into the colossal International Blue riff, a fiery flair of feedback fires him into the microphone, ably supported by Sean Moore’s pummelling drums and Nicky Wire’s hard hitting bass playing. It’s a testament to the band’s energy that Blue generates as much excitement as the reliably crowd-pleasing Slash N’ Burn and Motorcycle Emptiness do. Axl, Duff and Slash had better bring their A-game to the European tour; these Welsh rockers are playing with every ounce of their beings.

As a studio collective, the Manics may have peaked with The Holy Bible/Everything Must Go combo (however traumatic those albums undoubtedly proved for the band to record), but as songwriters they’ve continued to challenge themselves over the last twenty years, switching from genre to genre, idea to idea, ideology to ideology. And boy can they play! The seismic funk Walk Me To The Bridge is as exciting as No Surface All Feeling is decidedly downbeat and distorted. People Give In and Sleepflower are triumphant in their intimacies just as You Stole The Sun From My Heart and Your Love Alone Is Not Enough revel in chorus led adrenaline. Bradfield turns to an acoustic guitar for sparse renditions of Faster and Kevin Carter, paying close tribute to the poetic gift Richey Edwards left both his band and the world. It’s a particularly potent performance; despite the twenty something years since he’s left the band, Edwards’ shadow covers the stage musicians just as Syd Barrett and Ian Curtis did theirs.

Photo: © Alex Lake

Liverpool indie openers The Coral deliver a Beatly psychedelic set, Dreaming Of You a jiving dance number, the pleasantly laconic In the Morning  a nice settler for the grandiosity the walls and ceilings The Hydro will hear. Jacqueline, Dylanesque in lyric and arrangement, is strengthened by James Skelly’s earnest vocals and certainly the most satisfying song in their set.

But it’s the Manics that bring the bravado to the stage, Marx rocker The Masses Against The Classes is warmly received in the city that voted for Scottish Independence. Nimble and balletic, Wire is nicely clad in feminine attire, while touring guitarist Wayne Murray complements the stage with a fitting David Bowie t-shirt (Murray fills the second vocal spot on Dylan and Caitlin with decided flair too). Introducing You Love Us, Wire invites the audience back to 1992 in the famed King Tuts venue- and the crowd go wild in response! Even the risible Tsunami and Hold Me Like A Heaven are given new leases of life through the niftiness of Bradfield’s finger-plucking, throwing lines and riffs through reverbed motions both practiced and improvised. The psychotropic intro to If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next is enough to generate a colossal cheer and Bradfield is confident enough in the song’s power to let the mass wave of people sing the chorus by themselves.

The band play A Design For Life, Bradfield and Wire thrusting their instruments heroically as Moore closes the song with a brief drum solo, closing the set with a bang. Resistance really is futile when the Manic Street Preachers play as well as they do!

Visit the official MSP website for remaining tour dates.

❉ Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life

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