By Gavin Owen
Being a Welshman who is into music, growing up in the Welsh Valleys, and attending school at the latter end of the 1990s was definitely an interesting time.
Britpop was coming to an end, boy bands were prominent in the charts and in my school, in particular, one musical movement was very prominent among the cooler and harder kids and this was the rave scene, people would always be bringing in walkmans with the latest rave tapes bought from the local shop that not only sold tapes and CDs but the happy hardcore jackets, whistles, gloves – the lot.
I attempted to get into this music in order to try and feel accepted- but failed miserably. Thankfully another movement was going on that was happening on a more local level and this was the rise to prominence of the Welsh bands -The Stereophonics being the most notable but close behind them were Catatonia, Feeder, The Super Furry Animals and 60 Ft Dolls but one band also came to prominence who had been established long before but were now experiencing pop stardom, being darlings of the music press and this band of course is the Manic Street Preachers.
Having only witnessed a short 4 or 5 song set at the Tsunami Fundraiser event at the Millennium Stadium in 2005, I am ashamed to say that I had never seen the Manic Street Preachers having seen Feeder several times, The Stereophonics twice and seen solo sets from Cerys Matthews and Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals there was definitely a gaping hole there having not seen the Manics.
So, when I found out that they were releasing a new album “Rewind The Film” and doing a UK tour, I knew this was the ideal opportunity to see them on the Welsh leg in Newport.
Newport Centre is a very unusual venue in that it’s a considerable sized room but when packed with avid music fans it has the intimacy of a venue at least half its size.
First up were Caerphilly based band Telegram whose sound sits somewhere between Status Quo, Guerilla -Era Super Furry Animals and The Vaccines the songs were solid and the band were energetic on stage and seemed to gain a pretty warm reception from the crowd.
But when the headliners hit the stage it’s clear that this is their night, it’s the opening night of the tour, there’s a new album on the horizon and they’re entertaining a local crowd. So the receipt for a night to remember was all there and it certainly was.
The band open with “No Surface, All Feeling” from 1996’s “Everything Must Go” album but it was when they hit with Motorcycle Emptiness that the night really kicks off with everyone jumping in sequence and singing every line as if their hearts depended on it,
Almost all of the Manic’s studio albums get covered within the 19-song set from the Asian chimes of 1999 hit Tsunami off 1998’s pivotal album “This is My Truth Tell Me Yours” of which all 4 songs feature in the set “You Stole The Sun From My Heart” proving one of the set highlights and sounds just as anthemic now as it did 15 years ago, material from later albums also feature in the set as well with “(It’s Not War) Just The End Of Love” from 2010’s Postcards From The Young Man” and “Your Love Alone” from 2007’s “Send Away The Tigers” which means there’s plenty to please the hardcore old school fans as well as recent converts to the band.
The newly release “Rewind The Film’s” material gets a good airing here as well with both new singles “Show Me The Wonder” and “Rewind The Film” featuring special Guest Richard Hawley, who also provides lead vocals on the track, is a welcomed addition to the evening’s proceedings. One of my personal highlights of the night was James Dean Bradfield’s solo acoustic version of “The Everlasting” with vocals from the thousands in attendance all in almost perfect harmony which then led into the band rejoining him on stage for “Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier”.
The band finish off proceedings with “Ocean Spray” from 2001’s “Know Your Enemy”, a 1991 single and fan favorite “Motown Junk” and end the evening with breakthrough single “A Design For Life”.
All in all the whole gig is going to go down as a night to remember with a great range of material on display, that took me back to my teenage years but also discover new material from a band that I have admired for a long time but never got to experience live until now and I shall definitely be booking tickets for the next tour!