Manic Street Preachers @ Wembley Arena, London

Fredag 3.desember 2021

Welsh rockband Manic Street Preachers played their final gig of the year at Wembley Arena on Friday night. 2021 has been a good year for the Manics, who reached no 1 in the charts with their recent album “The Ultra Vivid Lament” – their first no 1 album in 23 years.

The band kicked off proceedings with their iconic track “Motorcycle Emptiness”, and frontman and guitarist James Dean Bradfield danced around the stage, making his way over to the edge several times to greet the excited audience. The setlist featured a mix of crowd pleasing favourites from several eras of their career, along with a significant amount of songs from their 2021 album – six in total – “Afterending”, “Complicated Illusions”, “Happy Bored Alone” (played for only the second time live), “Orwellian”, “Still Snowing in Sapporo” and “The Secret He Had Missed”. “Orwellian” was majestic, and “Snowing in Sapparo” could become a regular on a Manics setlist with its chorus hook.  It was a highlight of the concert and drummer Sean Moore didn’t miss a beat. Bassist Nicky Wire addressed the crowd with characteristic joviality – “Thank you for giving me an excuse to get out of my fucking tracksuit, put slaps of make-up on and tight jeans – stuff that I’m banned from doing around my house!

Other highlights included Bradfield’s brilliant guitar play during «Love’s Sweet Exile». He is an underrated guitarist. There was a beautiful acoustic interlude which saw Bradfield on the stage alone, singing “La tristesse durera (Scream to a Sigh)”. He asked the audience for help with the higher notes, but he clearly didn’t need it. His voice remains as powerful as it has ever been. Following that, the band dedicated an exhilarating cover of The Cult’s classic “She Sells Sanctuary” to highly regarded record producer Steve Brown, who died in January. He produced “Generation Terrorists”, the band’s 1992 debut album: “This next song is dedicated to a man who produced Wham!, he produced The Boomtown Rats, he produced ‘Motorcycle Empti-fucking-ness’ … a dear, dear friend of ours and an amazing producer, Mr Steve Brown. He also produced this fucking song!

After steaming their way through more tracks such as “Motown Junk”, “Slash ‘n’ Burn”, “Tsunami” and “You Love Us”, without leaving the stage beforehand, the band performed the finale, a rousing performance of “A Design for Life”, which somehow seemed even more poignant in the middle of a pandemic. “And we are not allowed to spend, As we are told that this is the end” – after a concert featuring highlights both old and new and a warm crowd reception, it was clear that Manic Street Preachers are far from «the end» of their career. 5/6 (You can read our recent interview with James Dean Bradfield here!)

Tekst og foto: Anne-Marie Forker