Barrowland Ballroom Reviews
The Manics are no longer ours. No,
instead the Manics are owned by people that think their first LP was
"Everything Must Go" and that it's cool to hold lighters aloft during
Motorcycle Emptiness (which they obviously think is a new number.) Now whilst
I'm no huge indie elitist snob ("The Manics are rubbish now - I saw them
before they formed, you know..."), I find it hard to get excited about
a band whose live show has transformed into a mainstream-pleasing stadium
spectacle. And on the basis of tonight's spectacle, the Manics are the new
Queen. The merchandise stall is even selling Manics' mugs, for crying out loud
(so that you can console your alienation and despair with a nice cup of
Not only mainstream, but predictable. Perhaps I overdosed on them during the
Everything Must Go tour last year, but little imagination and true passion seems
to have gone into proceedings. So James spins around, video screens display
poetic sound bites, the crowd sings along to "Design For Life" like
it's a terrace anthem: we've seen it all before, and seen it all done better and
with more feeling (no surface). This - even taking into account James' cold - is
Manics-by-numbers; lackluster, uninspiring and something I thought they could
never be: boring.
The band and the music I still love: James' raw talent, Nicky's glam-bam-thank
ya mam wardrobe, little wickle Sean, the punch-drunk power of "Kevin
Carter", the heartbreaking vivaciousness of "Roses In The
Hospital", the crashing intensity of "Tsunami" - the passion and
articulate beauty of the songs is not an issue, nor is the band's integrity and
sincerity in question. What is, however, is the packaging. You too can be a
doomed romantic suicide case for one evening only - let the Manics suffer for
you by proxy as you clap along to "You Love Us". Perhaps I understand
a little about why Richey left now. Mainstream adulation and its unavoidable
dilution of everything that the band once stood for would indeed be hard to bear
for someone so intensely and utterly involved as he apparently was.
But what the hell, I'm only a fan. So as I trudged out the hall three-quarters
of the way through the set, leaving the band steadfastly trying to breakwater
against the double irony of a crowd full of beered-up people singing "we
only want to get drunk", I find myself mourning the passing of one of pop's
most intense and visceral live spectacles, leaving it instead for those that now
perhaps appreciate it more. Those people for whom the music is no more than a
lifestyle accessory, and not a way of life.
You loved them, but they are not yours to cherish any more.
Review was Originally featured on the Alternative Music Magazine
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