Manic Street Preachers,
Cardiff University, 12 May 2007

MANIC Street Preachers arrived at Cardiff University for a two-night residency riding high on their return to form and promising a truly special weekend.

Despite playing two sold-out nights at the much smaller Great Hall rather than one at CIA, the platoon of touts outside in the lashing rain were left clutching fistfuls of unsold tickets, but inside the venue you wouldn’t have known it as the bars heaved and the hot air was moist.

You Love Us opened a massive greatest hits-style set culled from their first five albums and garnished with surprisingly few from their eighth and latest, Send Away The Tigers.

But regardless of how many classics the Blackwood three kicked out, how well they played them or how pregnant with shared history they kept the banter, the crowd didn’t quite pick up the gauntlet until the very end, with new-era Manics fans seemingly in the majority.

As much as I hate to say it, The Manics are probably a band on the way down from their magnificently creative summit – but the plateau on which they’ve re-settled is still agonisingly high.

The closing four tracks were sustained excellence, starting with a soul-stirring You Stole The Sun From My Heart and followed by Little Baby Nothing, which had Nicky Wire so wound-up he wielded his bass above his head in triumph, roaring the vocals off-mic.

Design For Life was always going to be a roof-lifting climax and, while it was exceptional, it was the volume of peaks that impressed.

James Dean Bradfield’s acoustic version of Yes was introduced with a touching expression of wonder at the quality of Richie’s lyrics while Nicky Wire dedicated I’m Just A Patsy to the band’s lost-but-ever-present guitarist.

Die In The Summertime provided a moment of raw emotional contact and Motorcycle Emptiness has rarely sounded so vast, while Autumnsong proved an anthem to stand among the best.

The set was designed to please and the relationship between the band and fans was summed up with clinical perfection as they sang at each other, “All we want from you are the kicks you’ve given us.”

They were exactly as you’d want them; James, in a Socialist-red T-shirt, slashing at his guitar, Nicky lurched in front of his feather boa’d mic stand while Sean Moore did what Sean Moore does.

When they signed off, promising to return at Christmas, the crowd stayed put, demanding an encore that never came, and the lights had to be switched on – to a chorus of boos – before the fans dispersed.

At the front barrier, a Thirtysomething male fan bartered for a setlist that was promptly pocketed by a member of the typically generous, kind and understanding security staff, leaving the punter devastated.

This band still means everything to us.

Gavin Allen, South Wales Echo

Pix by Steve Bateman, more here

Set List

You Love Us
Send Away The Tigers
Motorcycle Emptiness
Indian Summer
La Tristesse Durera
Born To End
From Despair To Where
The Second Great Depression
Ocean Spray
Die In The Summertime
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Yes (Acoustic)
No Surface All Feeling (Acoustic)
Autumn Song
You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Little Baby Nothing
Condemned To Rock 'n' Roll / Motown Junk
A Design For Life