Manic Street Preachers

SSE Hydro, Glasgow

Graeme Thomson

five stars

BACK in the day, when Manic Street Preachers were idealistic young fire-brands, they promised to split up after their debut album. Well, here they are, older and if not wiser then at least more pragmatic, marking the twentieth anniversary of their classic fourth album, Everything Must Go, by performing the whole thing in its entirety.

Backed by screens projecting images which range from abstract arthouse to moving home movie footage of their younger selves, they play the album in order, a rendering as faithful as it is explosive. A Design For Life, Kevin Carter, Australia, Interiors and No Surface All Feeling are rich, emotive rock music. They're young men’s songs, wordy and worthy, but these middle aged millionaires perform them with absolute commitment. Bradfield might dress these days like an accountant on a post-work pub crawl, but he still sings like a pugilist, swinging at each note with unfiltered despair. Bassist Nicky Wire is his laconic foil, a parody rock star in shades and leather.

After a short break they return for a swing through old favourites and eccentric covers. Bradfield takes a tender solo tilt at Suicide Is Painless and Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, joined on the latter by trumpeter Gavin Fitzjohn; later the band play a lovely version of Fiction Factory’s glossy 80s hit, Feels Like Heaven. In between come crushing versions of Motorcycle Emptiness, Roses In The Hospital and You Love Us, before a mighty If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next caps an unforgettable two hours. “Is there a better place to be than Glasgow on a Saturday night?” asks Bradfield. Not with his band on this kind of form, there isn’t.