Manic Street Preachers put in a performance at Southampton’s Guildhall on 19th October to ensure nobody left disappointed. Their hour and half set was full of energy, passion and commitment. The stage was well decorated with materials well accustomed to the band, such as Welsh flags and feather boas in order to give the venue a bit of their own identity. The band also used the unique idea of disco ball designed male mannequins with instruments, which brilliantly helped to reflect the dazzling lighting.
The setlist was brilliantly put together as there was a mixture tracks taken for their new album Postcards from a Young Man as well as a good smattering of their previous hits. This may seem an obvious way of performing, but it amazes me how many bands can just overload a setlist with new material, and ignore the tracks which made their fans listen to them in the first place. Moreover, each song succeeded the previous one very well. The set started with crowd arousing tracks, which had high tempos, such as ‘Your Love is Not Enough’ and the new single ‘(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love’. These were followed by a few more relaxed anthems, including ‘Samurai’, ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ and ‘Suicide is Painless’. Lead vocalist, James Dean (or JD to his friends) Bradfield, also gave two acoustic renditions to savour. These were ‘You Stole the Sun From My Heart’ and a cover of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ and both had the audience singing along. As the performance ended, the band reverted back to more generally well known and punchier songs to give the evening a big finish. The setlist had been clearly well planned, and allowed the performance to unfold at a perfect pace.
On a more general note, as 2010 has unfolded, there has not been many rock bands making headlines, not have there been many sensational rock anthems. Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ has been the best-selling rock track of the year, and we all know that is thanks to Glee. Subsequently, I am pleased to write that the tracks that Manics played from their new album were very good indeed. Do try to read Will Hayes’ album review of Postcards from A Young Man to get some more perspective on this, but I also implore you to hear it for yourself. Moreover, the quality in the band’s tenth album indicates that they are nowhere near extinction.
All in all, Manic Street Preachers provided everything that fans expect, and the band paid great respect to them throughout their performance too. They showed great admiration for Southampton and delightfully made sure the audience felt appreciated. On a personal note, I was very impressed, as a band which has been going for over twenty years now could have become complacent on a night of yet another tour. Also there is an inevitable worry that a band won’t sound as good live as they do recorded. However, Manic Street Preachers did not allow either eventuality to happen. If anything, they sounded better than I could ever have hoped for. They seem to have set very high standards for themselves, and met them impeccably. This was simply a fantastic live performance from a band that, to paraphrase NME, Britain really needs at the moment.
By James Ash