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Manic Street Preachers - Leaving the 20th Century   Print  E-mail 
Written by Graham Reed  
Tuesday, 06 July 2004
 (the incomplete works of the manic street preachers).


Well I don't know where to start. Cheers Nicky. Another one of your self-serving, ego licking videos. Unfortunately, this, sadly the most complete Manics video document released, begins on a unrepeatable 8 minute documentary that consists of no more than the Manics themselves performing to massive empty halls (rehearsing in the £1,000 a day + Newport Centre for a start) that shows just how big the contrast is between the old and new Manics. There is no real debate. They're obviously of a different league now. And just like every other band, when the major ‘gig of the tour' comes round normally, an inevitable video follows.


And whilst the sheer extravagance of rehearsing in a venue they struggled to fill even five years ago is commented upon, there are no questions. And so to the rest of opening documentary. Just look at it. The fans. Either bizarre glitter clad, angel winged self-consciously fucked up virgins with their home made shirts and ripped off slogans, or inarticulate oafs pointing at their tickets and yelling about it. Sure, New Years Eve, the end of the world, a good night out. But look at it from histories sake.


"Nothing here but the Recordings" as William Burroughs said and for the few, your mark on history is that of yelling in a pub, shouting, in a bootleg Manics T-Shirt or a Ben Sherman top. Little Maggots in little houses, small, blind worthless. "Look at my ticket". "I'm going". "It's going to be history". Blah Blah Blah. Let the Manics be your voice because you can't think for yourselves.


Of course I would've loved to go, but if it hadn't been for my ex- stating that I had to be with her or lose her, I would have. She told me forever, just to go as well. Don't invest any hopes, or have any heroes. You always get let down.


And onto Stadium rock. Just like any Guns N Roses live video, look at the security herding the punters around like the sheep they are. All those jokes about Sheep and I never twigged they might be talking about the Manics fans themselves.


Want to be original? Want to be different? Be like everyone else. Wear eyeliners and make up and question. Is this another fad you'll grow out when Gary down the road gets you pregnant? His Slipknot T-Shirt can't save you now. Are you being yourself? Or being different for differences sake? Michael Jackson wasn't like other guys either. "I like the Manics cos they're cool." Not because they might actually have been good at one point. And everyone picks on me. Was it before or after you decided to look like some teenager copying some pop star who was copying the Clash copying the New York Dolls?


And, just like U2's stadium rock videos of yore (except that U2 use the stadium platform as a statement and not just as a bunch of lights and video screens), a handful of millionaires walk onto a stage to applauding fans and dazzle us with studio over-dubbed trickery (check the end credits for proof).


Jump cuts, fast cuts, tricky angles, panning shots across the stage to show just how HUGE the Manics are, especially in their own minds and bank accounts. Little girls in make up yell words to songs that were written before they were even six years old. Some arsehole in 80's style sunglasses apes Nicky and forgets the real Nicky Wire is just feet away.


"Faster", complete with false widescreen bars, (and make no mistake, this is an EVENT so big it should be shown at a cinema), just yells words incoherently at us. And as "The Everlasting" fades, some idiot in the crowd decides to flash a gigantic fluffy hat at us. As "Ready For Drowning", complete with jump cuts between TV,Super8 and film stock like some slick remake of Natural Born Killers takes off, Ben Sherman waltzes in the aisles with his girlfriend who is dressed as a cowgirl. White tassles and other taste crimes. "La Tristesse" shows more than just sepia-tinged, quick fade, faux pas nostalgia for the past. The Manics are selling the medals of their past to pay their bills.



"Of Walking Abortion" is the most powerful song on the video. A trio of castrated millionaires, plus anonymous Sleeperbloke on keyboards, give us a fierce 3 and a half minute diatribe against the entire male race. And yet, if this is what the Manics could have done, why choose anything else? Why choose the relatively tame route they currently tread water with? In all fairness, at least they try. But to try and fail is almost as bad as not trying at all.


Still, it looks like the wrong band. How ridiculous does Angus Young look now, in schoolboy cloth cap and shorts, at 45? Duckwalking and scissor kicking? Come on Nicky. I think you were more honest with yourself when you hid behind puffer jackets and pale trousers. Now, an old man relives past outrages, and it's expected. No longer an interesting one off return to yore. But a tired retread of an old cliches. Especially the sandpaper record sleeve trick. The Durutti Column actually did that. No originality anymore, forever in debt to your heroes. The Manics told us truths that stained us forever, just to go.


Even our heroes don't betray us anymore. They don't sell out. They just stay stuck either in the past, or deny it completely. Refusing to grow up, but growing old. And the Manics haven't grown up in a good way. The elements of the past they have kept are the worst - histrionic guitar solos, outdated and overweighted feather boas, lyrical clumsiness. But in all honesty, this isn't that bad a video.


As far as live documents go, there could hardly be a better one to use of the TRUTH tour, excepting maybe, the legendary T in The Park show. When Nicky talks of fans quietly accepting to sit in seats, like they're watching TV, it rankles. Numbed out in piss towns, we wanna dig our graves, and yet when the kicks we want are given to us, men shine torches in our eyes and tell us to sit down and shut up, like being at school. Enjoy the light show.


And it's so obvious Nicky rehearsed that "This feels like four paracetamol" line..


Oh look fireworks. Lovely. And so, to the first songs of the new millennium. No comment. No statement. Just a singalonga football anthem. "This Is Yesterday", some attempt to infuse some meaning, look, this is hailed as a new start. Meet the new boss, same as the old Boss. The Who? Nah, I need you baby and if it's quite alright.. Stadium emptiness.


As "Small Black Flowers" takes hold, remember, the coolest man of the decade isn't here. A man, who whilst obviously mentally ill, also knew that after The Holy Bible, what else was there to do? Except carry on, grow old, fill stadiums and be co-opted into the majority by the mainstream? Sometimes to opt out and not just carry on through habit is the brave thing to do.


 Well, what else can the Manics do, except practice golf, play DVD's, and do session work for Tom Jones? Maybe if he was around, he'd be laughing at the very thought of such a fate for what used to be the greatest band ever, doomed to ever-increasing returns, playing stadiums, slowly getting less innovative, slowly playing less and less new songs, relying on the MSP revue show.


Into the final strait, predictably, the dire "Australia". A song Nicky rates as the worst ever Manics single, excepting Slash N Burn. All well and good, but why play it at just about every Manics show ever since? And for the last four songs, what else is there to say? "You Love Us", an interesting "Stay Beautiful", that shows they can still set the world on fire when they want. A bizarre, and not a little sycophantic speech from Mr. Arthur Scargill, delivering Politics-Lite to the masses. Another Number One single. And finally,"A Design For Life". Funny, primarily because for the Manics biggest ever TV moment, James' guitar strap collapses under the weight of all those pies, and the song is sung virtually riff-less.


And oddly, I feel tears at the end, not because of how good it was, but because how good they could've been. And finally, at the end, Nicky whips off his bass, and yet another aspect of the MSP revue comes to light. Instrument smashing time.


But this time, like V99, it looks tired, predictable. Unlike the spontaneous hatred of the Astoria, the frustrated howl of Kinross' T in The Park, Nicky takes his bass after a multitude of attempts, like it's something he feels he ought to do. Not like something he genuinely wants to. At the Astoria, and T in The Park, you felt it was the natural byproduct, a release, an orgasm of some sudden tension. But here it's cheap, empty. Packaged in the red, white and green of repulsive nationalism. I hope they don't split just yet, because I can still the magic, hidden in the mechanics, and I for one, would hate to think of the story ending on a diluted album and some barren live footage.


And this is how the Manics left the 20th Century, and leave many of their fans behind. For a band that is true only to themselves can soon become a band isolated from anything other than itself, and of relevance only to itself.

Written by Guest on 2005-05-19 11:36:13
A rather dull DVD which highlights their decline from Everything Must Go.
Written by Guest on 2005-05-21 07:11:49
Haha, this has got to be the worst review I've ever read. And no, I'm not some deranged, thirteen-year-old Manics fan who's about to start squealing "OMG OMG Ur soooo mean!!!!11!!!" 
This review, however, was just twattish. Just another wanker chanelling the fucking NME (AKA the worst magazine in the world). You need another set of indie heroes? Cool, good, fuck off. 
The Manic Street Preachers have been creating music for fifteen fucking years and it's certainly not like this is the first bad review they've recieved, nor will it be the last. This was, though, the most pretentious, fuck-witted review I've read. 
Seriously, you could have rephrased this entire thing so that you sounded a tad less like a bitter, ageing housewife, though. Not cool. 
What's the bet you think that U2 are the epitome of musical talent?
Written by Guest on 2005-05-22 07:42:27
As much as I like stream-of-conciousness writing. Perhaps a review is not the place to do it, instead maybe having sentences that make sense, and then collecting them together to make paragraphs and then maybe even an entire review would be a start. 
Best of luck.
Billy Bob Manic
Written by Guest on 2005-05-22 10:48:21
I'm a Manics fan while i don't agree with the DVD review i'm really disappointed with some of the other fans replies.It's these types of replies that give MSP fans a bad reputation. :sigh

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