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Wednesday, December 13

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« 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.

 
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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.

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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.

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