Two years ago I moved to Finland and the Manic Street Preachers became good again. There is no use dwelling on either point as the former would be of no interest and the latter has been explored by a variety of scribes and publications. However, it is worth noting that while being extremely chuffed for his favourite band, this writer was a mite disappointed that Messrs Bradfield, Moore and Wire couldn’t have rediscovered their mojo a little earlier and spared him from the lacklustre performances and seeming band disinterest of the last couple of Manics shows he attended. The announcement that the band were to play the rock festival in his adopted hometown of Oulu came as a huge shock. He dusted off his feather boa and decided to give them another chance…

Finland is a very “metal” country. No less a personage than Iron Maiden tosser Bruce Dickenson has described it as “the home of metal.” Even your
chavs and Sharons will have the odd Slayer or Metallica album in their record collections. Over an hour before the show is due to start, the front
few rows are crammed with eyelinered and glittered up devotees but beyond that is a sea of 80s metal band t-shirts TUCKED IN to jeans. Could such an
unashamedly populist band as the Manic Street Preachers thrive in such an environment or would they be chased out of town by the faded denim clad

The answer is a firm yes to the thrivage. The Manics were fabulous tonight and right from the moment they launched into Motorcycle Emptiness the fun they are having just simply being the Manic Street Preachers was there for all to see. It’s in James forgetting almost all the words to You Stole The Sun To My Heart but not giving a shit, it’s in the way they fizzed through Umbrella and Pennyroyal Tea (which rocked by the way), it’s in Nicky Wire’s frankly appalling pink trousers.

That the old songs are great is a given but the relief that the band finally have new material that stands alongside anything they’ve ever recorded is tangible. Everyone knows the words to Your Love Alone Is Not Enough and a Send Away The Tigers dedicated by Bradfield to “a ten foot tall man in leopard print who wanted to change the world” prompts every bit as much pogoing as From Despair To Where. The party atmosphere is complete when Wire informs the crowd that “this is what happens when you listen to too much of the great Hanoi Rocks” before crashing into You Love Us.

The real surprise of the evening comes during James’s acoustic segment. We’re treated to a bit of “Oulu, you make my heart sing” and before we can all start laughing at his hilarious mispronunciation of Finland’s biggest northern city he strikes up the opening chords to The Everlasting. Now speaking personally this has never been one of my favourite tunes but I’m
clearly in the minority as pretty soon I’m feeling like I’ve accidentally walked into that Robbie Williams Glastonbury performance they always show on the telly. Damn moving it is too.

Moore, Wire and The Others (don’t know their names but isn’t the guitarist handsome?) troop back on for the final few songs of which Autumnsong and the ever wonderful Motown Junk are undoubted highlights. The warmth and joy coming from the stage seals the wee disappointments-no Nina, no Holy Bible stuff-firmly in the box labelled “Irrelevant.” I’m a believer again and trying really hard not to cry. The Manics on this sort of form could play anything and it’d work. Actually, maybe not SYMM. SYMM sucks. As the final
notes of If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next ring out, Wire takes the mic and screams “Merry fucking Christmas.” Right back at you
chaps. Thank you.

By Rakennus Ash,

Pix by Steve Bateman, lots more Manics pix here

Set List

Motorcycle Emptiness
You Stole The Sun From My Heart
The Masses Against The Classes
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
Kevin Carter
Little Baby Nothing
Send Away The Tigers
From Despair To Where
Ocean Spray
Pennyroyal Tea
You Love Us
A Design For Life
Wild Thing/Oulu You Make My Heart Sing (acoustic)
The Everlasting (acoustic)
Everything Must Go
Motown Junk
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next