Tonight the legendary Manic Street Preachers returned to their hometown of Blackwood, Wales to perform an intimate gig. Originally scheduled for December of last year, the gig had to be postponed due to James Dean Bradfield being ill after a long (and incredible) tour of the UK. But tonight the band stepped on to the stage to perform a stunningly powerful set of absolute classics from their back catalogue.
Radio 2 gave listeners the chance to win tickets to this exclusive show and after applying I sadly didn't win one of those tickets, but luckily the BBC pulled out all the stops to make sure everyone had a chance to witness an incredible night of music. Radio 2 broadcast the gig live and on the BBC website a video of the gig was streamed live onto the internet, which for me is great since my computer is viewed through a 32" HD TV and the sound is linked up to the stereo system.
The group kicked off with the classic 'Motorcycle Emptiness' followed by 'Your Love Alone....' and the most perfect performance of 'It's Not War....' that has been heard so far. But just when I thought this might be another one of the usual greatest hits shows, they surprise everyone with underrated 1998 album track 'My Little Empire' AND for the first time in many years they play the debut single 'Suicide Alley'. But what struck me tonight was how powerful and note perfect every song sounded, and how this performance demonstrated a band giving 100%, revelling in the absolute glory of their back catalogue. In particular, 'Slash And Burn' and 'You Love Us' sounded fierce and majorly enjoyable, while 'You Stole The Sun' seemed to have an extra power to it and even the next single 'Postcards From A Young Man' came across with an anthemic quality. Just under an hour into the set and many classics later the band launch into 'Motown Junk', a song which the band claim takes them all back to being 18 every time they play it, and judging by the energy and the incredible guitar solos it's treated with tonight, you can see why.
'A Design For Life' was the final number of the main set, and there was something great about lots of mostly Welsh voices singing the second verse as James turned the mic on the crowd. An encore of 'Suicide Is Painless' was followed by a rare airing of the sensational 'Enola/Alone' which sounds just as exquisite now as it did back in '96. And a final 'Masses Against The Classes' proves that as a singer, guitarist and a frontman, JDB has to be among the very finest.
One of the greatest gigs I've ever seen without actually physically being there, along with Blur at Glastonbury last year. Stunning.