Show Review & Photos: Manic Street Preachers @ Neumos

Review by Nicky Andrews & Photos by Nicky Andrews and Dagmar.

It was with much excitement that Dagmar and I attended the Manic Street Preachers gig at Neumos on Monday night. This was their first gig on their first tour of North America in a decade, so there was much anticipation in the crowd that gathered outside the venue. I later learned that Pearl Jam were playing the same evening, which may have explained why the audience was sparse, but while the crowd may have been lacking in size, they certainly packed a punch in exuberance and loyalty. Fans sported Manics t-shirts spanning their entire nine-album catalogue, and I spoke to several audience members who told me that they were making the trip to the Vancouver show the next day. One girl wore a homemade “James Dean Bradfield is my Guitar Hero” t-shirt and boasted she had flown all the way from Montana to catch the gig; others had flown in from Los Angeles and Texas.

photo by Nicky

Los Angeles punk-rockers Nico Vega gave an innovative opening set, resulting in a much heavier sound than their one guitarist and drummer could provide. Lead vocalist Aja Volkman was a speedball of energy, writhing around the stage with a palpable and demanding stage presence that the crowd duly enjoyed.

The revolutionaries from Wales did not disappoint, playing a searing set that kicked off with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ before launching into the anthemic ‘No Surface, All Feeling’. On tour to promote their latest album, Journal for Plague Lovers, the set featured many new songs that were composed using lyrics from late lyricist/guitarist Richey Edwards’ journals after he had legally been declared dead late last year. A somber Nicky Wire asked, “I don’t think Richey ever made it to Seattle, did he?”

New songs such as ‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’ had the crowd singing tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as “Oh mummy, what’s a sex pistol?”, while old favourites such as the epic ‘Faster’ proved that Bradfield hasn’t lost any of his spark over the years; whipping the crowd into a blistering frenzy.

Wire proved larger-than-life in his trademark lab coat, his sequined eyes glinting merrily as he jumped around his feather boa engulfed mic stand. Bradfield opted for a slightly more conservative look, but one doubts the military regalia will ever be fully absent from his wardrobe. Drummer Sean Moore was almost entirely obscured by his drum kit, and I suspect he likes to keep it that way; letting Bradfield strut around his mic stand in a series of jumps and pivots that come to a stop only in time for a bridge or guitar solo.

Halfway through the set, Bradfield traded guitars to give an intimate solo acoustic performance of ‘Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky’ and ‘This Is Yesterday’, making for a tender moment as his earnest vocals were joined by a reverent audience.

Set highlights included ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next’, and jaunty b-side ‘Take the Skinheads Bowling’ (you may recognize Teenage Fanclub’s rendition of the tune on the ‘Bowling For Columbine’ soundtrack). The concert was brought to a monumental close with ‘A Design for Life’; leaving a stunned crowd to spill out onto the streets of Seattle with ringing ears and high spirits.

Photos by Nicky

photos by Dagmar

photos by Nicky

photos by Dagmar

photos by Nicky

photos by Dagmar


Motorcycle Emptiness
No Surface All Feeling
Peeled Apples
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
La Tristessa Durera
Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
Let Robeson Sing
You Love Us
Everything Must Go
Take The Skinheads Bowling
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Small Black Flowers (acoustic)
This is Yesterday (acoustic)
Send Away The Tigers
You Stole The Sun From My Heart
‘All or Nothing’ into Motown Junk
Me And Stephen Hawking
Little Baby Nothing
This Joke Sport Severed
A Design For Life

See additional Nicky Andrews Manic Street Preachers photos here.

For more of Dagmar’s photos of Manic Street Preachers click here & here.


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