Live review: Manic Street Preachers at Newcastle City Hall

It’s just given them their first No 1 album for almost a quarter of a century, so it’s understandable that Manic Street Preachers would want to show off their latest LP as they hit the road to promote it.

By Darin Hutson
Monday, 27th September 2021, 6:49 pm
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 6:52 pm
Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield on stage (Photo by Tim P Whitby/Getty Images)

Five songs from The Ultra Vivid Lament, the Welsh alternative rock act’s 14th long-player, featured in their set at Newcastle City Hall last night, September 26, one of them, Still Snowing in Sapporo, making its live debut, and all being welcomed as warmly as if they’d been around for years rather than just a couple of weeks.

The other four new tunes played at the Northumberland Road venue were the singles Orwellian and The Secret He Had Missed, along with Complicated Illusions and Don’t Let the Night Divide Us.

As sizeable a chunk of their newest LP’s 11 tracks as that might have been, though, it didn’t outdo the exposure given to their oldest, 1992’s Generation Terrorists, as that too accounted for five of the 20 songs they played last night, kicking off with Motorcycle Emptiness, sounding, like Little Baby Nothing later on, as timeless as ever despite just short of 30 years having passed since they came out

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Slash ’n’ Burn, You Love Us and Stay Beautiful might not have aged as gracefully, as frontman James Dean Bradfield conceded while introducing an acoustic version of the last, but not many among the two-thirds-capacity crowd seemed to mind.

Other highlights of a set lasting just over an hour and a half included 2018’s International Blue, 2007’s Your Love Alone is Not Enough and three tracks from their only previous chart-topping album, 1998’s This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours – namely Tsunami, You Stole the Sun From My Heart and If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next.

The cover of the 1988 Guns n’ Roses single Sweet Child o’ Mine they’ve been including in sets since 2019 also made a welcome reappearance, offering a reminder of Bradfield’s oft-overlooked guitar hero status.

The Manics’ tour continues to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall tomorrow, September 28; Glasgow’s Barrowland on Tuesday, October 5; and the O2 Academy in Leeds on Thursday, October 7.