Friday, 1 October 2010

manic street preachers @ O2 Academy, 29th September

A boa wrapped around a mic stand, a white Gibson being tuned by a roadie, and an empty space to the left of the stage: the Manics don’t have to be performing for their presence to be felt. When the curtain drops it heralds twenty-three songs incorporating every stage of their double-decade career in ways both traditional (the defiant A Design For Life) and more infrequent (a dazzling Sleepflower).

While Nicky Wire skulks and jumps with trademark gangly poise, James Dean Bradfield proves himself once again an impeccable frontman: whether soloing through Motorcycle Emptiness or bringing his range to bear on impassioned cuts from their polarising tenth album -- roughing them up sufficiently to earn their place amongst prestigious back-catalogue peers -- he leads the trio through the ages and confirms they’ve stayed beautiful. Anyone still wishing they’d split-up after Generation Terrorists is an overly-ideological fool, and tonight delivers twenty-three reasons why.

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