We were not worthy! When the kings of Welsh rock Manic Street Preachers descended upon Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall, to be part of their very cool mate Robert Smith’s Meltdown festival, fans couldn’t help but run to the front tof the hall as soon as the band stepped on-stage. I’m not kidding when I say that before the band had even played a single note, people leapt out of their seats and ran towards them, it was quite incredible. In hindsight, that was probably the biggest indication of the amazing night that was to come.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the Manics were playing a sold-out show at Wembley Arena with the amount of energy, audience participation and sheer bloody good time that was had by everyone who attended. I doubt anyone left without screaming their lungs out to at least one song.
After a career spanning just over 32 years, the Manic Street Preachers still have it and their talent only seems to be going from strength to strength. With the release of their latest album Resistance Is Futile, their Meltdown Festival set-list was bound to be full of songs from the new record, but there were classic titles thrown in there too, for good measure. We partied like it was nineteen ninety-two and lead singer James Bradfield gave us permission to misbehave like it was a Saturday night, because as he put it ‘that’s exactly what the band were going to do.’
The Manics opened with a thundering rendition of ‘International Blue’ the lead single from the new album and from there, we were taken back and forth throughout their discography. ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ felt bolder with the sold-out venue signing along to every word. Just before the band played ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’, frontman James Bradfield was not only geeing up the audience to get up and dance, but he was also slapping his own face to show us that he meant it. The energy levels from every member of the band was infectious. At one-point James Bradfield, Nicky Wire and Wayne Murray formed a holy triangle in front of Sean Moore’s drums and just jammed and jumped around in sheer musical joy.
The audience deserve another mention at this point, because they became the newest recruit in the Manic Street Preachers line-up. When ‘If You Tolerate This…‘ came on, they sang it with everything they had.
Although Nicky Wire came on-stage with his trademark sunglasses, he removed them to tell us anecdotes from the band’s past and he gave a beautiful tribute to former Manic Street Preacher guitarist Richey Edwards.
It was beautiful hearing the duet ‘Dylan and Caitlin’ performed by James Bradfield and The Anchoress, who sings the song on Resistance Is Futile and who was also the supporting act for the band on the night. There couldn’t have been a better way of saying thank you to Robert Smith for including them on his festival line-up, than by performing ‘In Between Days’ by The Cure, which was a great gesture.
The Manics performed for just under two hours and their last songs of the night, ‘People Give In’ and ‘Tsunami‘ paved the way for the raucous final song that is the iconic ‘A Design for Life’. What an ending. Every single person who could was out of their seat, arms in the air and creating an unforgettable memory for this year’s Meltdown Festival.
What a phenomenal night. Manic Street Preachers got the standing ovation that they more than deserved and they once again cemented their place in rock and roll history. They really are the stuff that legends are made of. We salute you!