Manic Street Preachers, Dublin Olympia, 13th December 2014.
The Manic Street Preachers last played Dublin’s Olympia on 24th September, 2013, selling out the full 1600 capacity. Forward 15 months to 9th December, 2014 and they have again sold out the same venue, this time tickets selling in a record ten minutes.
Having enjoyed huge critical acclaim for what was undoubtedly their best album in years, #Futurology, the Manic Street Preachers decided to end 2014 on a high and marking the 20th anniversary of The Holy Bible by performing the album in its entirety for the first time.
As part of #THB20 anniversary tour, they scheduled a small series of dates in the UK&I, kicking off with Glasgow, wrapping up with a three night stint in London’s Roundhouse, with gigs in both Manchester and Dublin in between. Further dates for 2015 have since been announced, culminating in the now sold out Cardiff Castle gig, which will see the Manics take the helm here for the first time. Like the other #THB20 gigs before it, Cardiff sold out within minutes, a testament to the love and respect their long standing fan-base have for the now seasoned agit-rockers.
The Holy Bible is the defining album of the Manics discography; the last album on which Richey Edwards performed before he disappeared, and the one to which he contributed the bulk of the lyrics. For hard-core Manics’ fans, #THB is the apex, the never to be repeated iconic album, harrowing in its starkness, vociferous in its defiant youthful rage. They talked about their nervousness during rehearsals, their fear of not doing #THB justice, of keeping up the pace, but whatever nerves were there beforehand, quickly dissipated on the night.
The Manics had outlined the set before the gig and boy were they on cue:
8.50pm – The Holy Bible
10 minute break
9.50pm – Hits, Curios and Futurology
To ear-splitting roars, they tore the gig open with #Yes: of all of the Manics’ gigs I’ve been to, (nine), never have I seen as ebullient a crowd, or heard as deafening a roar. James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Sean Moore, took to the stage in army/navy surplus gear, similar to the uniform they’d played in back in 1994, melding with the “camouflage” stage backdrop. After a few technical glitches and a near trip by the main man (“don’t even think about it”), the band swept through the opening tracks of The Holy Bible in efficient, brutal fashion.
The crowd ramped it up a notch for the anthemic #OfWalkingAbortion, and then exhaled a little during the quieter, simplistic #SheisSuffering. However, the stand out tracks of the night, were the raging #Faster, #DieintheSummertime – which had it’d Dublin premiere, and, naturally, the roof raising #P.C.P. It wasn’t perfect, but for a group of guys now 20 years older than the first time around, it was a well-honed and amazingly athletic performance. In fact, if music could leave skid marks, these would be scorching!
The band left the stage for a well-deserved break but not before Nicky acknowledged the missing member, Richey Edwards, “…the greatest lyricist of all time”.
James returned to the stage alone, and as an entrée into the more genial and upbeat second half, played solo acoustic #ThisSullenWelshHeart. Playing with their full touring line up, including Galwayman Wayne Murray, a cocky polished rendition of #MotorcycleEmptiness cranked it up a gear and then some, finally rendering Bradfield powerless to do little else but leave the audience to command the vocals. Some choice picks from the Euro-influenced Hansa production, #Futurology, were interspersed with a selection of their biggest hits.
It was testament to their musical maturity and their ability to take their fans with them on the journey of curios, greatest hits and untried miscellanies, that they felt confident enough to include the guttural instrumental #DreamingACity. Whilst the chart hits brought out the biggest fan vocal interaction, it was the #RosesintheHospital b-side #Donkeys which was one of the most well received songs of the night.
The Manics finished off the set with the biggest crowd pleasers #YouLoveUs and #ADesignForLife and amidst raucous applause, and in an emotionally charged Olympia, took just a little longer than usual to leave the stage, especially, the clearly touched Bradfield. #Youloveus, #weloveyou.
Critics said it couldn’t be done, the Manics proved them wrong. The #THB20 tour was a resounding success, but the final trumpet blast will come on 5th June this summer, when the Manics take the helm in Cardiff Castle for one last wonderful full rendition of what was undoubtedly their and Richey Edwards’, finest hour.