As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 


Monday, December 17

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

« Review: Moby @ The Vic Keith and the Complications @ Underground Lounge, Saturday »

Review Fri Oct 02 2009

Review: Manic Street Preachers @ Metro, 10/1

Manic Street Preachers are one of the most popular Welsh rock bands ever. In Europe they top charts, sell out arenas and headline festivals. In the US, though, fans are lucky if the albums get domestic releases. So, obviously, their first US tour in a decade is an event. (And not just for expats.)

At Metro on Thursday, the band walked on stage and singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield introduced opener "Motorcycle Emptiness" almost as an apology for not playing here in so long. Through the night the band made numerous references to their lack of popularity in America, but it was hardly evident in a comfortably full Metro with pockets of the crowd singing along to every song. (Although, I should note that the friend I went with is a New Zealander and the gentlemen next to us all spoke with non-American accents.) Part of the American music fan's indifference to the Manics may be in part to their heavy political and cultural subject matter. For instance, Bradfield introduced "Let Robeson Sing" by saying, "This is about one of the greatest Americans ever" to an audience whose general American education includes nary a word about Paul Robeson's trials and tribulations as a US civil rights activist. And the only Manics single in the US, 1998's "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next", which was received quite warmly, is about rebels during the Spanish Civil War.

However, it is difficult to deny the band based on the merit of their music. Their early punk (like an extremely hostile New York Dolls) led into a heavy Britpop sound, hence leading to their greatest successes. And both of these eras were prevalent on Thursday. Bradfield's exceptional guitar-playing was highlighted by a series of glam-inspired licks while flamboyant bassist Nicky Wire and obscured drummer Sean Moore made up a pulsating rhythm section that never wavered. Even though some lyrics are dark and cynical, Bradfield himself was rather cheery and lively as he bounced around the stage and wailed on rockers like "Motown Junk" and "You Love Us." The band pulled a majority of their set from their hits and scattered one third of new album Journal for Plague Lovers across an 80-minute set. Before ending, Bradfield reminded the audience that they don't do encores. Then they launched into the anthemic "A Design For Life" with its appropriate lyrics 'We are not allowed to spend, as we are told that this is the end' closing the evening. It's just as well that they don't encore, for if they did, the cheers for more may have lasted indefinitely.

GB store

Megan / October 2, 2009 5:28 PM

Thanks for the excellent review. This band means so very much to me and my boyfriend; by name-dropping, they've introduced us to a wealth of great authors and political history. They are more than just musicians - they are educators.
We will be driving from SC to Philly, NYC and Boston. One show will not be enough and we must take advantage of their presence while we can.

GB store

Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

GB store


Featured Series


Transmission on Flickr

Join the Transmission Flickr Pool.

About Transmission

Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Sarah Brooks,
Transmission staff inbox:



Transmission Flickr Pool
 Subscribe in a reader.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15