Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair -
Never one to turn down a free Manic Street Preachers show, on Tuesday night I didn't turn down a free Manic Street Preachers show.
I admit it was close. It was cold, I was knackered and there really was a part of me that couldn't be arsed with the whole shebang. But dutifully I got on the train and made my way to Rough Trade East for an in-store consisting of a screening of the Manics documentary 'Culture, Alienation, Boredom, and Despair' and an acoustic set from my own personal favourite super-hero James Dean Bradfield.
A signed copy of the newly super-duper-re-mastered-mega-bonus-extra-tracks edition of the now 20-year-old Generation Terrorists by all three surviving Manics rounded things off nicely.
In typical Manics fashion the whole event was an absolute clusterfuck of disorganisation but thankfully the lovely boys and girls at Rough Trade managed to get everyone in and on time come the night. I even managed to get a seat. Which is good, as I have reached an age where I feel comfortable with a bit of a nice seat.
An introduction from one of the films makers explains how the idea for the film (which runs to just over 75 minutes) originated from wanting an extra feature for a DVD accompanying the re-release of Generation Terrorists. When they realised the wealth of archive and home footage available, along with new interviews from the Manics themselves, long time manager Martin Hall and producer Steve Brown, the idea evolved from a short 'extra' feature to a full-length movie.
The film focuses solely on the era leading up to and covering Generation Terrorists. Sean even makes a few rare utterances (summed up by his T-shirt which reads 'a still tongue makes a happy life'). The band openly discusses their earliest gigs and admits freely that they pretty much had no idea whatsoever what they were doing. There is some brilliant archive footage of early shows that shows that they really were kids when they first started.
Following a long cliché ridden rant from Richey ('youth is the ultimate product we just want to mix politics and sex and look brilliant onstage no other band aspires to what we aspire to), Wire, deadly serious and passionate declares 'we will NEVER write a love song, ever, full stop'. Ah the folly of youth. But remember this is from a band that claimed at the time that they were going to sell 16 million copies of Generation Terrorists and then split up. We, of course, now with hindsight all know that anything that Nicky Wire says is likely to be utter bollocks.
I could go on about the film for ages but for anyone who is a fan of this era in particular it's a fascinating look at those early days. The performance of Motown Junk from 1991 at the BBC is worth the watching the film for on its own.
So onto the main event. James takes to the stage seeming slightly nervous to be on his own. Seeing some of the songs from Generation Terrorists done in an acoustic setting almost re-invents some of them. Methadone Pretty in particular sounds very, er, pretty done in this way. Any signs of nerves from the beginning quickly disappear and James provides great banter with the crowd. For Motorcycle Emptiness James gets the crowd to sing the guitar riff through the song but it's possibly a full run through of Condemned To Rock N' Roll towards the end which really gets the crowd involved. Mainly because James point blank refuses to sing the words unless the crowd do it. So it's all a big Manic Street Sing-along. If you have ever tried to remember the words to Condemned To Rock N' Roll you will see why James took the wise decision of not attempting it on his own. Other rare outings include Spectators Of Suicide and a quick fun blast through Damn Dog.
In short it was a lovely little acoustic evening with one of the greatest front men of the last 20 years. Oh and he also revealed that they've already got over 20 songs in the bag for the next Manics album which should be ready by early 2014. So stay tuned.
Now if Wire had said that, I wouldn't believe a word of it.
Full set here from Dan Thomas Music: