Meltdown Festival: Manic Street Preachers at Royal Festival Hall
In general, the different aspects of a performance (like reception, stage presence and sound quality), whilst theoretically separable, act as a whole. When a concert does not behave in this way, then, it is very confusing to anyone who is listening with a critical ear. This was the case with the Manic Street Preachers. Their reception was stellar. As soon as they entered, the crowd was on its feet, applauding rapturously. This continued throughout the entire performance, and looking around the Royal Festival Hall, the joy was tangible. Everyone was singing along, dancing their hardest and throwing arms into the air as if, in fact, they really didn’t care. No-one seemed to mind the sludgy sound balance or overly-loud vocals.
James Dean Bradfield capitalised on the fans’ devotion, teasing it out with amusing comments in between songs. For example, after encouraging everyone to forget it was “a school night”, the frontman received shouted requests from the audience to play Sleepflower. Whilst Bradfield and Nicky Wire agreed, Sean Moore refused, causing the singer to mockingly have a go at the reluctant drummer, before launching gung-ho into Everything Must Go, all to the audience’s delight.
The concert was certainly a crowd-pleaser. Included in the setlist were the big hits from the Manics’ repertoire, like If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next and You Stole The Sun From My Heart. They even played a cover of The Cure’s In Between Days. Again, this was all extremely well-received, but in terms of musical quality and creativity, it scored pretty badly. Playing songs from 20 years ago suggested a lack of new material that was good enough to win the crowd over (regardless of the fact that this was a won battle), and given The Cure’s large and varied back catalogue, the performance of their most radio-friendly number seemed to be a shallow attempt to galvanise further support.
In fairness, the set list did include some songs from new album Resistance Is Futile, like Distant Colours and Hold Me Like a Heaven, but these were regrettably indistinguishable from the late 90s songs. It is hard to say whether the audience responded with such positivity in spite of, or because of this homogeneity, but the latter seems more likely. The entire concert definitely appealed successfully to the nostalgia of its attendees, and indeed it was very rousing to see them enjoying themselves so much.
Photos: Vic Frankowski
For further information and future events visit Meltdown Festival: Manic Street Preachers’s website here.
Watch the video for Distant Colours here: