In the Beginning
I’ve been a fan of the Manic Street Preachers for just over a decade and their Christmas party gig on 17th December 2011 was the first time I’ve ever seen them live. And let’s face it, probably last. By the time they get around to putting out a second batch of greatest hits and accompanying concert I’ll be too old for gig-gallivanting (sciatica was already preventing me from pogo-ing as much as I’d’ve liked) and they should be old enough to know better themselves. Bassist Nicky Wire already frequently complains about his back, pulled his shoulder during Revol and was wearing knee supports (from my position I could only see the tops of them, and assumed he was wearing knee-high socks. Another girlish dream crushed.
When We Were Winning
My MSP-worship has known varying degrees of intensity, taking a nosedive after Lifeblood, and being recently reignited with club night Stay Beautiful being resurrected by Manics biographer Simon Price in the city I currently call home.
“Be punctual!” the emails leading up to the event shrieked. “The Manic Street Preachers have 38 songs to get through and will be on stage at 19.30 on the dot so be on time if you want to hear everything!” Our reward for our good timekeeping was an extra twenty minutes of twee Christmas tunes, much to the dismay of the Russell Brand lookalike to my left in the crowd, who shook his mane and bellowed “NOOOO!” To be fair, James Dean Bradfield apologised. And I got to look at a Russell Brand lookalike.
As usual I amused myself with crowd-watching as much as band-watching. What I found most astonishing was the ratio of Nu-Manics fans to Old-Manics fans. I was expecting a sea of glitter and feathers and leopardprint; however, the hue of the night was predominantly beige. “We don’t talk about love/We only want to get drunk” – you’re not supposed to take it literally, you oaves! For fuck’s sake, it’s the Manics! And it’s a motherfucking Christmas party! There’s a disco ball the size of Pluto dangling from the rafters! DIY destruction on channel chic! Tart up a bit, you tossers! Harumph. Seeing a group of burly beer-swillers moshing to Tsunami (of all songs) and crushing a fey, waifish eyelinered boy left a particularly bad taste in the mouth. Honestly though, some of them must’ve just been there on the basis of hearing ‘There By the Grace of God’ or something, and it makes you wonder, who exactly buys a £35 ticket off the back of that?
Our Royalties, They Exist
Grizzly, congested Super Furry Animal frontman Gruff Rhys joined MSP for ‘Let Robeson Sing’; to some people’s horror taking REEETCHEEE’s spot on the stage, usually left poignantly vacant. Not as horrifying, however, as JDB's announcement following his thanks to Gruff.
“And now! From one Welsh hero to another! Richey Edwards!”
*collective intake of breath, puzzled looks from the crowd frantically scanning the stage and each other’s faces*
“Who wrote this next song, ‘Faster’!”
James, you utter, utter bastard.
The guest of the second set was of course dainty Swedish Cardigan Nina Persson, who joined them for ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’. We were encouraged to thank her for travelling all the way from America, which begs the question of why she didn’t join them on stage for the Traci Lords bit of ‘Little Baby Nothing’ if that was indeed the case.
Black Dog on My Shoulder...Again
I stuffed some of the Christmassy/Welsh flag coloured confetti from the ‘Design for Life’ finale into my pockets as a keepsake seeing as my ticket wasn’t returned to me after presentation. Yeah, I’m a sentimental cow. This marks an end of an era both for them and for me. Post-gig comedown was immense. I doubt any gig of my life is going to top that one, ever.