written by Chris Familton
Dead Actors Club had the opening honours and they seemed like somewhat of an odd fit with the headliners. They played a set that was high on looks and with all the right moves but the songs just didn’t cut it. It was a weird mix of 80s pop in the vein of INXS or even Pseudo Echo, filtered through more contemporary influences like Bloc Party. You couldn’t fault their enthusiasm and dedication to the cause but they seemed like just another band making a play for the charts.
From behind the opening curtains the core trio of Manic Street Preachers strode on stage. An almost comical looking threesome with the 10ft tall Nicky Wire against the diminutive drummer Sean Moore – and in the middle of the two – James Dean Bradfield who from the back of the Metro looked like a mutant hybrid of Joe Strummer and Ricky Gervais.
The Manics have been in the game long enough to know that if you give your audience what they want then they will respond accordingly. They played one of their aces – if not their ace of spades – by giving us Motorcycle Emptiness near the start of the set. Faces lit up, middle aged arms were thrown aloft and terrace sing-a-longs ensued. It is one of those great songs where the vocal melody is matched by the excellence of the central guitar riff and they nailed it.
From there on it was a healthy dose of the hits – Suicide is Painless, Tsunami, Everything Must Go – and a sprinkling of tracks from their 2 most recent albums Postcards From a Young Man and Journal For Plague Lovers. The newer ones felt less balanced on a knife edge and more comfortable in their own skin – as if they have found a happy medium between the glam bluster and their more grandiose flourishes.
Nicky Wire is still as ridiculous as ever with his white jeans, feather boas, captains hat and sunglasses but you can’t fault his bass playing and the degree of synchronicity he has with Moore. Bradfield in particular seemed to be having a ball, skipping and pirouetting when he wasn’t at the mic delivering that unique falsetto of his.
The undeniable highlights of the evening were the uplifting You Stole the Sun, the dark punk of Faster and the set closer Design For Life – the biggest song the possess. There was no encore, indeed how could they have followed the peak they reached with that last song. With a cheery ‘merry christmas’ they left the stage and left a sold out audience bathing in the afterglow of a great band still playing like their lives depend on it.
this review first appeared on FasterLouder