As Manic Street Preachers walked onto the stage at the 9:30 Club Monday night, launching their current U.S. tour (their first since 2009) which celebrates the 20th Anniversary of their album The Holy Bible, lead singer James Dean Bradfield unassumingly announced “We’ve never played here before. We’re Manic Street Preachers. This is The Holy Bible.” That humble intro gave no hint as to what was to follow as the band tore into the opening track “Yes” causing fans of the Welsh band to pogo like maniacs. Or, in this case, manics.
With camouflage netting draping the stage, the Manics continued the military images used when the album was first released with drummer Sean Moore wearing camouflage, bassist Nicky Wire sporting a military jacket while lead singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield wore what looked like a Royal Navy windbreaker. That was the only sign of order as Wire threw shapes, Bradfield sang from somewhere between his toes and his gut and the crowd frenetically sang along giving Bradfield plenty of time to drop out and let them have a go. “You all sound f@ck!ng brilliant” Bradfield admired as he and the band seemed to be astonished at the crowd’s reaction. With the warm welcome loosening up the band, Bradfield was able to joke “I still can’t remember what f@ck!ng order these songs are in” after a false start on a song.
“Faster,” the biggest and best song on The Holy Bible, lived up to its name and the band ripped through the song, travelling at rock’s version of warp speed. The only lull in the show came during “The Intense Humming of Evil” (to give you an idea of how dark this song is, it samples dialogue from the Nuremberg Trials), causing Wire to note “We sometimes forget how f@ck!ng grim that song is.” Before wrapping up the set with “P.C.P.,” Wire couldn’t help but discuss the elephant in the room; while this is the 20th anniversary of The Holy Bible, it’s also the 20th anniversary of the disappearance of Manics’ rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards. The Holy Bible was the last album recorded with Edwards (with Edwards writing a good portion of the lyrics), so it was only appropriate that the Manics dedicate the last song to Edwards, noting his contribution to the band and stating “This one’s for you.”
Once the catharsis of The Holy Bible was over (and after a quick change from Wire who changed into a jacket sporting varied iconic logos including those of the Sex Pistols and Star Wars), the Manics were able to really open up and stretch their musical legs, breaking into crowd favorites including “Motorcycle Emptiness” and “You Stole the Sun From My Heart.” With the latter, Bradfield seemed to have renewed energy as he ordered the crowd to “Jump!” and in turn, followed his own command.
Closing with “A Design For Life” (which, let’s face it, had the Manics not played, the audience would have tarred and feathered them), a song that showed the Manics there could possibly be life after the loss of Richey Edwards, Bradfield joined the audience in belting out the lyrics, bringing the first night of their new tour to a fiery and triumphant end.
Of Walking Abortion
She Is Suffering
Archives of Pain
This Is Yesterday
Die in the Summertime
The Intense Humming of Evil
Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky (Acoustic)
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Walk Me to the Bridge
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
You Love Us
A Design for Life
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