The crowd packs tightly into the standing area opposite the stage. Two characters appear before them on the platform; they are Public Service Broadcasting, a London-based musical duo and tonight’s support act.
Firing into a track off their War Room EP, titled ‘London Can Take It’, the two musicians waste no time in getting the crowd excited for the night’s event. By borrowing material from old public information films and adopting samples of news broadcasts into their work, they create an interesting aesthetic appeal to both their sound and their stage presence, which quite easily separates them from their more run-of-the-mill contemporaries.
Their stand out tracks include ‘Theme From PSB’, a song which incorporates the traditional sound of a banjo into a modern blend of sampling and beats; and ‘Spitfire’, a piece based around a threading electric guitar riff.
They complete their set, shuffling offstage amid immense applause. There was no doubt that they had left an impression. They had successfully energized an audience that could have just as easily ignored them in favor of the bar. The audience waits in anticipation for the headliners. All that remains is for the Manic Street Preachers to appear.
After a couple of false starts, the band appears to rapturous applause. Picking up their instruments they each take their place on separate sides of the stage. Nicky Wire is on the right hand side. James Dean Bradfield stands alone at the front. He leans forward towards the microphone. There is the almost unintelligible sound of his voice ringing throughout the venue. The intro riff to their 1992 single ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ begins to play. The crowd erupts into activity.
After they have finished the first song of their set, they capitalize on their success by borrowing once again from their extensive back catalogue. The song is ‘Ready For Drowning’, a pop anthem that dates back to their 1998 album, This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours. The crowd once again responds positively.
As the night progresses it becomes increasingly apparent that they do not intend to let a single member of the audience leave unimpressed. They break into yet another hit, this time the more recent ‘Your Love Alone…’ from 2007’s Send Away the Tigers. There is a sense of wonder in the room as the band moves from hit to hit, drawing close attention to their impressive discography. It is hard to imagine the group producing a stronger set. They have been a band now for almost thirty years and there are no signs of them relenting, their latest record Rewind the Film having gained high praise from critics and fans alike.
Highlights from their set include performances of newer songs, such as ‘Show Me The Wonder’, ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’, and ‘Anthem for a Lost Cause’; as well as animated performances of older tracks, like ‘If You Tolerate This…’ and ‘You Love Us’. They are holding nothing back.
To end with they perform a spirited performance of the 1996 anthem ‘Design for Life’. The audience joins in with singing the iconic leading lines of the chorus. The band then leaves the stage.
The huge crowd files out at last into the streets of Manchester having witnessed something special, a retrospective of a career that shows no signs of slowing down. With their latest release and a string of sell-out performances, the Manic Street Preachers have once again reaffirmed their place amongst the best British bands. Their message is simple: they are here to stay.