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MANIC STREET PREACHERS London Camden Roundhouse 18 October 2017   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Where do we go now?

The Manics are a lifetime into it now. The core faces on stage may have been the same for their entire career (mostly), but it's not the same, and the Manics have become everything they set out to destroy – a careerist rock band, playing nothing but old songs, to diminishing returns.

Ostensibly, this is to mark them winning the Q Award for being an Inspiration. But with only two songs in the set less than a decade old, and with only one new song released in the past three and a half years, the Manics aren't inspired. The past two tours have been nostalgic old-album-in-full shows, alongside a sproadic set of greatest hits shows this year in strange and relatively obscure places like Bingley, Overton, Penrith, Llangolen. What exactly are the Manics up to now?

They came out of the gates so hard, so urgently, so fast, that the state of the band today is almost the sound of artistic defeat : have they anything left to say? Do they want to say... anything? Every song here might be fabulous, and in some cases, rarely played, but there's too much looking back, too much coasting, too much resting on laurels, not enough artistry, not enough creativity.

So really, it's 'just another Manics gig' (and their first in London that is just the songs, and not an album-played-in-full retrospective in nearly four years), and whilst just another Manics gig is a glorious experience, this is also becoming long in the tooth. Staid. Predictable. Boring, even, with 93% of the set comprising their hit singles – near enough one from every album – alongside “No Surface All Feeling”, and, for the first time in Britain for 13 years (and only the eighth time ever), the wonderful “A Song For Departure.”

The old songs (and they are all old songs now) are executed with a familiar and practiced ability. The Manics have clearly become a very, very good band and have been for a long time. But they aren't the band they used to be, even if the core lineup hasn't changed in 28 years. Some of these songs are lifechanging, and by my standards, wonderful. But the Manics are fast falling over the horizon of relevancy. And for a band that, at one point to me, seemed directly hardwired into the spirit of the times, that they have become largely a hermetic, sealed and contained insular universe, is the beginning of the end.

It's not too much to expect a headline set to last over 65 minutes is it? Or to expect a band to have new songs? Unlike others, The Manics never went fallow, or had several years off, or split up, or had a falling out with an incompetent and useless record company : all that happened was that the muse has mostly deserted them. I can't keep going if they become a museum.

What a glorious past they have ahead of them.

Motorcycle Emptiness
Everything Must Go
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
Walk Me To The Bridge
Kevin Carter
You Stole The Sun
A Song For Departure
Little Baby Nothing
No Surface
Tolerate
Faster (acoustic)
You Love Us
Tsunami
Ocean Spray
Show Me The Wonder
A Design For Life

Comments
Oh I remember
Written by markreed on 2017-10-25 18:30:09
By 'core line up' I meant that the trio of Nicky/Sean/JDB haven't had anyone leave (apart from Richey's obvious disappearance) in 28+ years.

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