Oyster Stage, Friday

It’s been some time since the Manic Street Preachers musical message in support of communism seemed relevant.

But in these dangerous days when the world waits for battle lines to be redrawn between East and West and men wear “Manscara” and “Guyliner” the Welsh dragons suddenly seem as relevant as ever. Taking to a rammed Oyster Stage at Connect an understatedly attired Nicky Wire arrives ready to prove that there’s still plenty of life in the middle-aged trio as they rip through a greatest hits set. Drawing almost entirely on their seminal albums Generation Terrorist and Everything Must Go, songs that had been committed to memory for posterity’s sake feel like a long-lost family member returning to the fold.

But with songs such as 'La Tristesse Durera', 'You Love Us' and 'Motorcycle Emptiness' there’s no sign of that first awkward embrace or difficult question about where they have been in the intervening years since they sounded so fresh and dynamic. Hydro Connect welcomed the Manics back like it was 1988 or 1996 all over again when headline appearances at Glastonbury and tea with Fidel Castro were just the norm in Manic world. But whatever the Manics have embodied, whether it was their political rants, outrageous stage attire or the tragic disappearance of Richey Edwards that turned people on to their music it seems the years have eroded some of their posturing.

Fortunately, it’s not their ability to rip out a riff or catchy chorus about the Spanish Civil War that’s diminished. Instead it seems the days of accusations of selling out or taking themselves too seriously (Glastonbury bogs anyone?) are gone! The more mature version of the Manics rather like James Dean Bradfield’s waistline is slipping into uncharted territory. The stern faces and political roars are still intact but as the opening chords of Rihanna’s Umbrella are riffed out by Bradfield it feels like a Communist uprising never sounded so good!
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