Manic Street Preachers
Cambridge Corn Exchange, 12.4.05

"Good evening, we are the Manic Street Preachers, this is called "Found That Soul"". And so it begins…

The first time I've seen the Manics since the Greatest Hit's tour and they open with "Found That fucking Soul". Bugger. But we go through the motions. We sing Nicky's crap lyrics, we repeat chorus after title after chorus after title and we all cheer rapturously at the end. After all, it's the Manics. And that ladies and gentlemen is reason enough.

But fuck no, they then dispatch "A Design For Life" as the second song and we fall in love with them again. This is the song that has always spelled the end of the gig and here they are throwing it away as if it were a mere "Tsunami". The cheeky young scamps.

James tells us that the next song has been compared to amongst other things David Bowie (I think he may be referring to "Sound And Vision" maybe) before letting rip with "Roses In The Hospital" complete with all the bits and bobs at the end about being forever delayed and Rudi.

"This is a song from "The Holy Bible", it's called "Revol"". And we all go absolutely apeshit.

Two completely pointless songs next ("Empty Souls" and "Everything Must Go"). I use this time to go to the bar. Really, does ANYBODY want to hear them play "Everything Must Go" ever again? At every fucking gig?

Nice to hear "My little Empire" again. True it's not the best song they've ever done but it's good to have a bit of variety in the set.

This is followed with a fantastic (yet strangely text book by their standards) "You Love Us". It's around this point that the second guitarist becomes apparent. I hadn't really noticed him up until now.

"Let Robeson Sing" is a song that seems to divide people. Personally I can't stand the fucking song but it seems to go down well with the rest of the crowd.

"I knew that some day I was going to die and I knew that before I died two things would happen to me…". And they then play a fucking incredible version of "Of Walking Abortion".

"The Girl Who Wanted To Be God" follows and is introduced by James as the one on which Nicky plays "Abba bass". I was really pleased that they played this one as I noticed it had been missing from the set's after the first two gigs.

"Solitude Sometimes Is" makes them loose any momentum that they had built up throughout the gig so far. Which means that when they follow it with another trawl through "If You Tolerate This…" we're all almost falling asleep. But then...

"The Masses Against The Classes" goes down a storm. We all do the "aaaaah's" and whatnot. Reminded me of Cardiff at the Millennium gig. Fuck was it five years ago? God I'm getting old.

James' acoustic slot begins with "The Everlasting". Dammit. No "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" tonight? Time to go to the bar again methinks. But hurry because I know what's coming next already… And I can assure you, it's no "Small Black Fucking Flowers..." for once.

"I wonder who you think you are, you damn well think you're god or something…". James begins plucking out the bass line to "Archives Of Pain". Some people looked absolutely dumbstruck. "Is he really playing "Archives Of Pain?"" they whisper with their boa's clutched tightly. And then just after the first chorus the spotlight goes to Nicky with a new outfit on standing aloft the speaker stack and indeed, they play the rest of the song as a full live band. It really was incredible.

And then damn them. They do it again. An entirely pointless re-run through "You Stole The Sun…". Give it up. What is the fucking point. Yeah it's catchy and bouncy and we all like to scream the "I love you all the same" bit back to James but come on. Where's "Patrick Bateman"? Where's "The Intense Humming Of Evil"? Fuck, I'd even settle for another go through "La Tristesse Durera" but no. Stop it. Don't play that fucking song anymore. Okay?

"Stay Beautiful" is dedicated to Charlotte Church. Perhap's it's just a Cambridge thing but for some reason the usual crowd participation for the chorus was somewhat muted. After all, we're all professors here aren't we. Nicky told a story actually about him and Richey going to a guitar shop when they played Cambridge years ago to buy a shitty guitar to smash onstage. Apparently the shop owner was somewhat disturbed about the fact that they were going to destroy a musical instrument on stage. Having lived here for the vast majority of my life, i find this story uncannily believable. What what chaps… toodle pip.

"Cardiff Afterlife" goes down surprisingly well. People, well the few who actually bought "Lifeblood" seem to have taken to this song.

"Ifwhiteamerica" probably hasn't been played since the "Holy Bible" tour (well, apart from the dates preceding this one on this tour) but it sounded amazing live. Of course, I'm biased. Really anything from "The Holy Bible" I'm bound to say it was great live. Nicky could come on stage and fart the bass line to "Archives Of Pain" and I'd probably still love it.

"Firefight" goes down very well seeing as it's the new song. Or to be precise, the new new song. Having only heard it before as a quite bad quality mp3 it certainly works well live. I can't help but think if this had been on the album and they had put this song out instead of "...Richard Nixon", then "Lifeblood" wouldn't have flopped so badly. But then again, if that had happened, they probably wouldn't be playing Cambridge. So i mustn't grumble.
"Motorcycle Emptiness" wind things up just nicely before they launch into a full band version of "Paradise City" complete with guitar solo's and everything. And then it segues into a venomous spite filled rally call through "Motown Junk".

And just like that, within the last three minutes of the gig you are allowed to forgive the Manics for everything they've ever done wrong. For every disappointing album, every poorly chosen single, every time Nicky grows a beard. All of that is forgiveable because, at the end of the day, they are the Manic Street Preachers.

Just forget all that shit they did with Fidel Castro.

13th April 2005 - a story on the radio x

Richard Bull

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