Just before the Manics took to the stage at Manchester’s Arena last Saturday night large neon words were lit up: “The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul” which led to an air of excitement and expectancy. With a mixture of new songs from their 13th album Resistance is Futile and old favourites they stormed the Arena and put on quite a show.
First song International Blue, from the new album, announced the entrance of the three guys from Blackwood, Caerphilly and the Arena was set alight with a backlog of colour (blue of course) as the video to the song showed a young woman in various locations all blue-related as the band got straight into it. Whilst being new, this felt like classic Manics, at their best. Next came the wonderfully iconic Motorcycle Emptiness, from the Generation Terrorists album. And there we were shown visuals of the band circa the same year with Richey Edwards.
Highlights included Welsh singer The Anchoress joining them onstage for a duet for Little Baby Nothing and Dylan and Caitlin. A treat was also hearing You Stole The Sun From My Heart and If You Tolerate This…where a sea of blue streamers exploded into the audience creating a party atmosphere. Nicky Wire looked ever confident jumping across the stage all glam and glitter whilst Sean Moore beat his drums with zeal.
Then a more reflective moment as James Dean Bradfield treated us to an acoustic version of Everything Must Go and Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You where he playfully showed his love of Manchester singing “Manchester….be my baby….”
Then we had a Manics montage of songs including You Love Us (with more backdrops of the band in the Richey days, all eyeliner and punk attitude). That still remains but perhaps a little more mellowed out, fair dues, they’ve been around 30 years.
New songs Hold Me Like Heaven and People Give In, were given rightful exposure as people were dancing and foots a-tapping. And then to end the evening on a high note their immortal classic Design for Life was sung and the air vibrated as more streamers were released, this time gold ones that, reminded me of the golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was a real party atmosphere to end on.