Gig review: The Manic Street Preachers (Barrowlands)

The Manic Street Preachers
The Manic Street Preachers

The jury’s still out on the ‘classic album’ gig format, where a band of yesteryear perform their ‘masterpiece’ in full to awestruck fans.

For every person who defends it as a valid artistic statement, there’s another denouncing the shows as the final cash-funnelling tactic of heritage acts bolstering pension pots.

The latter accusation is one that can be levelled at a number of recent tours (we’re looking at you Television), but not to the Manic Street Preachers choosing to tour The Holy Bible.

The Welsh rockers’ third album was released in 1994 and, while critically lauded, was not their biggest commercial success (that honour goes to Everything Must Go), nor seemingly one designed to be writ in large on stage (Generation Terrorists would have been a bigger crowd pleaser).

It was also the last album released before bassist Richey Edwards’ disappearance, with every bleak lyric now choked with extra significance.

The stage at the Barrowlands is draped with camoflague netting, mirroring the seige mentality the band must have felt in those dark days.

But if songs like ‘Of Walking Abortion’ and ‘Intense Humming of Evil’ are claustrophobic and intense on record - something akin to a musical suicide note - they channel a different kind of energy played in front of 2,000 rapt fans. From the opening of ‘Yes’ to the last thrash of ‘PCP’ it feels more like a celebration than a wake, particularly when lead singer James Dean Bradfield’s dedication to the late Richey prompts an ovation as loud as it is heartfelt.

It’s a fierce and passionate performance that is impossible to top, meaning a second set feels a little flat. A palate cleansing ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ gives way to a collection of hits and tracks from (superb) new album Futurology.

A closing one-two of ‘You Love Us’ and ‘Design for Life’ ensures they sign off on an anthemic note, but it’s the Holy Bible that promises to linger in the mind.