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Review: Manic Street Preachers, Newcastle Arena

Manic Street Preachers at Metro Radio Arena. Photos by Mick Burgess.
Manic Street Preachers at Metro Radio Arena. Photos by Mick Burgess.

First night nerves were nowhere to be seen as a confident Manic Street Preachers pulled off a stunning performance on the opening night of their latest tour, no doubt buoyed by the chart success of their current album Resistance Is Futile.

Their latest release sees them looking back but also looking forward, drawing on those earlier Punk influences while bringing in the expansive, cinematic sound from their later albums. Set opener International Blue has all of the hallmarks of classic Manics and already sounds as familiar as some of their more established songs. Distant Colours too, with its huge, uplifting chorus shows that they haven’t lost that knack of writing Arena bothering anthems

The Manics have a shed load of hits at their disposal and it’s surprising not only how many they include, but how many they can afford to leave behind. You Stole The Sun and Motorcycle Emptiness sounded magnificent with James Dean Bradfield’s voice soaring to the stars and their Number One hit, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next added a touch of genuine class.

A short acoustic section featuring a rare stripped-down outing for the vintage gem, Faster and Kevin Carter showed Bradfield’s voice in its full finery.

Back in the early days their Punk Rock ethic and smash and grab shows were short, sharp and very, very punchy. As The Manics steer into middle age they may have smoothed a few rough edges down here and there but their spirit and rebellious edge was still evident on Slash and Burn and You Love Us which sparked the crowd into life as bassist Nicky Wire jumped and pirouetted across the stage.

Not only do they pull the hits out of the bag but they dug deep into their catalogue too with No Surface All Feeling, Let Robeson Sing and a striding, majestic Walk Me To The Bridge with its technicolour melody showing the strength they have hidden beneath the big numbers.

Throwing in the 1970’s San Francisco elevator inspired B-Side Horses Under Starlight for a rare outing added to the eclectic mix of material and showed that the Manics are anything but predictable.

Wasting no time with a walk off stage/walk back on again encore, they made every second count closing with A Design For Life bringing the show to an uplifting end complete with glitter cannons.

Over a 23-song set nudging the two-hour mark there were hits, new songs, oldies, deep album cuts, rare B-sides and acoustic reworkings, simply something for everyone. What more could you ask for?