Manic Street Preachers @ Festival Hall (with Hungry Kids of Hungary) – 28 Jun ’13

I think I may still be temporarily scarred with visions of grown men dancing while holding stuffed toy lions as their pseudo dancing partners. Was I stuck in Toys R Us? No. Observing the practices of a secret cult? Perhaps, but this was my evening at Festival Hall amongst a proud Welsh crowd, awaiting the Manic Street Preachers.

‘Know Your Enemy’ was the first Manic Street Preachers album that entered my CD collection. Why, or how I don’t remember but I vividly remember playing ‘Ocean Spray’. Evidently, it spurred further album purchases over the years and it was finally time to see them live. My ticket placed me near possibly the most unresponsive punter I’ve ever seen at the gig, and someone who could have easily been in training to become the Manics #1 fan (or close to it).

Interesting characters were quickly forgotten as Hungry Kids of Hungary hit the stage as the support act. The set instantly brought back memories from seeing them at The Corner for the launch of ‘You’re a Shadow’, with ‘What in the World’ and ‘Sharp Shooter’, the opening tracks from the album. The set was a great warm up featuring heavily from the second album (including Do or Die), but also a couple of tracks from ‘Escapades’. By the time the band reached the end of the set with ‘Let You Down’, the crowd was suitably warmed, loud and ready to welcome the Manic Street Preachers on stage.

With far more than a handful of albums to consider, pleasing a crowd was going to be no mean feat but the Manics delivered with ease with what was a pretty phenomenal  set list. Opening with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, the band rocked the stage from the get go continuing in fine form for ‘Your Love Alone’ and ‘Ocean Spray’ (trumpet solo replaced by guitar solo), bringing back all sorts of nostalgic feelings from Know Your Enemy. Everyone erupted with cheers for ‘Australia’, a sentimental moment was shared when ‘Revol’ was dedicated to Richey Edwards and ‘Send Away The Tigers’ was appropriately adapted to ‘Lions’ for the evening. If that wasn’t enough, the set also included ‘Little Baby Nothing’ – things couldn’t get much better than hearing the two tracks you were hoping for! But they did, because ‘(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love’ made it to the set too, as did ‘La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh)’.

Throughout the night, the crowd erupted into cheers and singalongs, putting on their finest voices to join in an acoustic ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. Just when the cheers couldn’t get any louder, Jamie Roberts received a raucous welcome to the stage joining the band for ‘You Love Us’. There was no encore, but ending on ‘If you Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ was a perfect finish to a night glowing of red jerseys, blossoming bromances and copious amounts of white dude dancing. All in the name of music… and rugby.

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