O2 Guildhall, Southampton

Manic Street Preachers

In 1998 the Manic Street Preachers released their 5th studio album “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours”. The album entered the UK charts at number one and the album went on to sell over 5 million copies worldwide. The album was the follow up to the 1996 record “Everything Must Go” and showed a distinctive change of direction for the band. To mark the 20 year Anniversary of this historic record the band are revisiting the whole record in full and tonight it’s Southampton’s turn to revel in the nostalgia of this record, which marked quite a turning point in this Welsh bands career.

Tonight’s opening act is Gwenno, a multi-lingual singer/songwriter who performs her own original music written in the minority languages of Welsh and Cornish. A feat that more than gives her a few challenges, but something she believes is worthwhile to keep these dialects going. Gwenno arrives dressed in a white bridal-style gown and with her band, they launch into their first number “Sisial Y Mur”. Her sound mixes traditional styles with modern electronics to create something quite unique. The first recognizable tune of the evening is the Cornish “Tir Ha Mor” which was performed live on Jools Holland’s “Later” last year, featuring its distinctive basslines and dreamy synths coupled with Gwenno’s delightfully delicate vocals. The tune was part of an all Cornish album and it is believed that it has helped increase this 15th Century old language to increase its speakers by 15%.

Gwenno 1

Listening to this music live reminds me a little of the “Cocteau Twins”, despite not understanding the dialect you can still really absorb its depth and the passion it is delivered with. Switching to Welsh with a song called “Chwyldro” which translated to English means “Revolution”, the audience are treated to ambient melodies coupled with constant hypnotic rhythms. The final number of the set is another Cornish one, this time a tune about Cheese “Eus Keus” and she does her best to try and teach the audience some of the lyrics. Gwenna is definitely, despite their shared record label of Heavenly; someone I would not have thought would be a suitable opener for the Manics. I am pleased to be proven wrong, as her music has shown that it can easily cope with the language barriers. They create intriguing parcels of knowledge that most will take away and look in to further.

Tonight’s Manic Street Preachers gig is quite a different proposition from many of their previous performances, playing an album in full for most is quite a daunting task as you are revisiting tunes you may never have or only played a few times in the past. This album differs from other popular albums like “Generation Terrorists” and “Everything Must Go” as they have more of a distinct momentum throughout. The gig, like a football game is going to be a game of two halves. Opening with “The Everlasting” the six-piece band ease into their task before pushing the envelope with “You Stole the Sun From My Heart” which gets thoroughly well received by the audience and sung very loudly right back at the band. Putting the epic “Tsunami” to one side the rest of the album sees a patient audience listen intently to the band’s live versions of less well-known tracks. Standout highlights are the dark “Ready For Drowning” and the heart wrenching “Born a Girl” which sees just James on guitar, accompanied by Nick Nasmyth on keys. A delightful inclusion is a great track called “Prologue To History”, a tune that never made it on to the original album but deservedly getting a place on it tonight; with its great piano intro and powerful lyrics, it is clearly an audience favourite. With a change from the album’s original track-listing the band end with the iconic “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” which gets them masses of applause at its conclusion.

Manic Street Preachers
Manic Street Preachers 12345678

After the album it’s time for everyone to let their hair down and see a more relaxed band go through a selection of hand-picked numbers. The previously patient crowd know each number as they are delivered and show their support with word-perfect sing-alongs to huge tunes like “Motorcycle Emptiness” and “From Despair To Where”. A glimpse of the bandís rebellious past is shown with the inclusion of “You Love Us”, one of the only surviving tunes from when the band first played Southampton at the legendary Joiners in 1991. On that momentous night the band got signed and to this day are still with the same label. I was one of the few here tonight who was at that show and it was an experience I will never forget. The evening ends euphorically with the exceptional “Design For Life”; one of the best tunes to ever come out of the UK and this was clearly confirmed by the enjoyment that was gained by the whole audience, who leave the auditorium with it still buzzing through their minds. You cannot fail to be moved by what the Manics have achieved in their long illustrious career and Anniversaries like this are certainly ones to savour.

Set List
Manic Street Preachers
The Everlasting
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Ready for Drowning
My Little Empire
I’m Not Working
You’re Tender and You’re Tired
Born a Girl
Be Natural
Black Dog on My Shoulder
Prologue to History
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next

Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
International Blue
Motorcycle Emptiness
Solitude Sometimes Is
From Despair to Where
La tristesse durera (Scream to a Sigh)
You Love Us
No Surface All Feeling
A Design for Life

Sisial Y MÙr
Hi A Skoellyas Liv A Dhagrow
Tir Ha Mor
Den Heb Taves
Calon Peiriant
Fratolish Hiang Perpeshki
Eus Keus?





Words & Videos by David Chinery (Chinners)
Pictures by Jon “I’ve lost my beard trimmer” Musselwhite

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