Thursday, 25 November 2010

Manic Street Preachers gig [20th November 2010 @ The Forum]

James Dean Bradfield in the heat of the moment

I last saw Welsh alternative rockers Manic Street Preachers back in 1999 at the Prince of Wales in St. Kilda, for their This is my truth tell me yours tour. At the time I only had two of their albums -- the highly underrated This is my truth (1998) and anthemic post-Richey classic Everything must go (1996). This made that a gig of two halves for me; the recent songs that I knew and loved, and the older songs which the die-hard fans were screaming over, but I hadn't heard.

This time I had all of their albums bar their latest, Postcards from a young man, which I have listened to but have yet to purchase. It was also at The Forum in Flinders Street, my favourite gig venue as I have stated many times on this blog.

I met up with my mate Pete, his brothers and work-mate at the venue after leaving early from a bucks night which I was attending. I had consumed a few ales at the bucks night, so this was the first gig in what seemed like a long time that I attended in a less-than-sober state.

We missed the support act, and shortly after 9pm the Manics took to the stage. Opening with one of their Richey-era anthems, You love us, they covered a very diverse section of songs from most of their 10 albums released over a 19-year span. There were old-skool fan favourites like Motorcycle emptiness, Faster and Motown junk, some now mid-career classics like If you tolerate this and The everlasting and a few surprises like Suicide is painless (a.k.a. the theme song from MASH, albeit with lyrics).

Vocalist/guitarist James Dean Bradfield chatted a little with the audience between songs, but it was the flamboyant bassist Nicky Wire who stole the show, returning to the stage part-way through the gig wearing what appeared to be a pink skirt, sailor hat and a shite-load of make-up. He clearly deserves the title of the most camp heterosexual musician in the world.

The biggest disappointment for me was that they didn't play a single song from their superb 2009 album Journal for plague lovers. Easily their most impressive album of the 2000s, it would have been great to hear a bit of Jackie Collins existential question time or Virginia state epileptic colony, but alas it was not to be. They didn't play any songs from their more synth-heavy 2004 album Lifeblood, but that didn't bother me so much.

Closing the set with their sing-along 1996 anthem A design for life, Bradfield and co. farewelled the Melbourne audience. Like fellow Welsh statesmen Super Furry Animals, and legendary English metalheads Spinal Tap, the Manics don't believe in encores. Which suited me quite well; my prior over-consumption of beer wasn't sitting very well, and the fresh air outside the Forum was just was the doctor ordered.

Bootleg media

Nicky Wire before his costume change

All aboard...Nicky Wire after his costume change

Performance of one of their early 90s classics, "Motorcycle emptiness"

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