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Review: Manic Street Preachers, Barrowland, Glasgow

Jonathan Geddes's verdict: Five Stars

Familiarity does not breed contempt for the Manic Street Preachers. This was their second stop at the Barrowland in a seven-month span, but if their visit last year was to promote last year's Rewind The Film record, then this gig was the group in career retrospective mode, from sloganeering glam punks to Britpop anthems and more reflective material.

Yet if certain elements were expected, like James Dean Bradfield pogoing around and an opening that included a thumping Motorcycle Emptiness, then the gig came most alive with more surprising moments.

Archives of Pain, with some superb guitar histrionics from Bradfield, and a crunchy Die In The Summertime were wheeled out, giving the evening some unexpected twists.

The Barrowland sound left some of Bradfield's between song chatter inaudible, save a song dedication to Ian Rankin and John Burnside, but thankfully it didn't affect the tunes.

The familiar hits also seemed to have had some fresh vitality breathed into them, from a snarling Masses Against The Classes to a gigantic version of If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next that appeared more appropriate then ever.

However, the set was positioned cleverly, never lingering too long on one style or era, with an acoustic segment offering respite on the sweet melody of This Sullen Welsh Heart, while there was room to look to the future on upcoming tracks Futurology, a straight-ahead rocker, and the Motown bouncy bassline of Europa Geht Durch Mich.

Those tracks suggested a band still with much to offer, as did a storming, snappy version of You Love Us. It was the sound of snot-nosed youthful punk, and although the onstage figures are now more mature, the fire within them rages on.

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