live review

Manic Street Preachers

Manic Street Preachers

July 02 2013
The Vector Arena, Auckland

Reviewed by Thom Brown
4th July 2013

The fact that the Manic Street Preachers first ever New Zealand show just happened to conveniently coincide with a Lions tour was not lost on the small but faithful contingent that gathered at Vector Arena last night. The trio wore their leek loving hearts on their patchy red sleeves. The anthemic ballads rung loud and were as youthful and patriotic as a couple of red-faced lagered-up-lads bellowing from the bleachers of a Cardiff rugby club.

At times the patriotic songs and politics felt at odds with each other. Perhaps reflected in the collaged silhouette of Nicky Wire, pieced together with a glam-rock Bolan boa, glitter framed eyes and one of Castro’s castoffs. The Manics offering a strange dichotomy of pop and politics, Fidel meets NZ X-Factor.

There were moments of brilliance. Opening track ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ showed that James Dean Bradfield’s angelic choir chops have not aged a day and his frenetic fingers and helicopter spins were straight out of the Prince playbook. His stripped back rendition of ‘The Everlasting’ was gorgeous complete with paper-thin falsetto. His lungs were worth the admission fee alone.

In terms of sound, the kit was too loud for the smaller Vector setup. At times the guitars were muddy and I wonder if the sound guys overestimated the size of the space. Perhaps the Powerstation would have been more fitting, complementing the stripped back sing-a-long down-the-tavern vibe.

This contributed to the feeling of distance at the show. Wire and Bradfield consciously trying to awaken the salt and pepper zombies and dormant angst of old with habitual handclaps and the odd “shout out” which did very little stir the staleness in the room.

However, the anthemic closer ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next’ demonstrated why The Manics are still a band that demands respect, fulfilling their rock ‘n roll roles with ease. James cast as the passionate front man with a big voice, Wire’s beautiful bleeding heart, Moore’s constant graft keeping the cogs turning and Richey’s soul that still binds the band together.

Unfortunately this rock ‘n roll exuberance did not extend past the evening’s 10.30 curfew. Perhaps the boys needed a quiet night in with a few footy highlights and a hot cocoa.

Setlist

Motorcycle Emptiness
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (minus Swedish hottie Nina Persson)
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Ocean Spray
From Despair to Where
Suicide Is Painless (Theme from MASH) (Johnny Mandel cover)
(It's Not War) Just the End of Love
La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)
Revol
Everything Must Go
Send Away the Tigers (Sung as Send Away the Lions)
A Design for Life
Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky (Acoustic)
The Everlasting (Acoustic)
You Love Us
Little Baby Nothing
Tsunami
Motown Junk
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

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The Manic Street Preachers
The Manic Street Preachers

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