Barrowland Ballroom 



23rd May 1996

Support came from fellow Welsh indie outfit, Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. I was impressed with their originality and quirkiness, never having seen them before; but a sizable proportion of the crowd were just here to see the headline act, so they didn't go down quite as well as they could've. Having said that, they did get a pretty good response, particularly for the faster more energetic numbers with the lead singer and keyboard player screaming away in a falsetto voice for all he was worth. Additions to the band of a trombone and violin also made other songs memorable. A more than adequate support.

To the Manics then: Barrowlands was sold out and hot as hell...but as soon as the familiar backing for "A Design For Life" started, the crowd seemed to increase and the heat intensify. The trio then took the stage as the backing to "Design" continued with the audience singing along - then the band burst into a storming version of "Australia" from the new LP - Nicky Wire's reported shoulder injury obviously not troubling him as he leapt about the stage and wind milled his arms about. The live noise they made was particularly impressive: James' vocals being especially clear, and Sean's drumming as impressive as ever - this guy can hold a rhythm.

The rest of the set was roughly balanced between new songs ("Kevin Carter" and "No Surface All Feeling" shone very brightly) and old favourites (set closer "You Love Us" all punk energy and glory; "Motorcycle Emptiness" reminding everyone in the hall of the band's checkered past).

Instead of the whole band leaving before an encore, Nicky and Sean trooped off for a well-earned break, but seemingly inexhaustible guitarist and vocalist James stayed on. Armed with acoustic guitar, he sang a moving rendition of "Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky", then a cheerful and glorious "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" (the song the band covered for the "Help" CD). Then, the other two band members returned and treated us to more classic songs: both old and new.

When they finally finished, the Manic Street Preachers proved themselves masters of their old repertoire; but also encouragingly showed they have great plans for the future, certainly if the songs from "Everything Must Go" are anything to go by. What could easily have been a gig by a broken band going through the motions turned into an affirming and triumphant revelation by a massively important group. They'll be preaching at us for a long time yet.


This Review was Originally featured  on the Alternative Music Magazine


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