My Writings: Manic Street Preachers Concerts I've Been To

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Toronto Warehouse - 11 September 1999

      

The full set list is below.

Okay, it's 9:15 PM on a Saturday night. I'm standing in a big, apparently not-very-renovated former warehouse appropriately called, "The Warehouse" in Toronto, Canada, with two women I met at the bus stop on the way here. I spent 10 hours on buses last night to get here, to see my heroes - the Manic Street Preachers.

I am fairly close to the stage and surrounded by a group of people, seemingly, mostly 20-somethings with a few over-30s. Two women standing in front of me, look like "old school" fans - feather boas, T-shirts saying, "Generation Terrorists" and "You Love Us", overall glam-y sort of look. I see a tiara on a woman to the left and behind of me. Otherwise, the people that I've seen, look pretty normal for a rock concert.

The crowd is turning ugly waiting for the show to begin. The doors opened over an hour ago. Most people appear to be steadily working their way towards a hangover in the morning. The novelty of being in a new venue has worn off for me, my feet are beginning to hurt. My companions tell me the Manics won't go on until 11. The opening act, Remy Zero, who I only know as actress Alyssa Milano's husband's group, had better be good.

Fifteen minutes later, a group of young men come out and take positions behind their instruments. The first song is an instrumental, almost atmospheric number. The second song adds singing, and that's the last real change for their entire set. My companions and I agree that these guys seem to have only two or three real songs, and everything else is a variation on them. The loudest response they receive is when they announce the last song. And surprise, they weren't Remy Zero after all, but a group called, I think, Hollow-phonic. Never heard of them before, and after tonight, I don't expect to ever hear of them again.

So now, after the Hollow guys, the old feet are really starting to scream "Get Off Me!" But I don't want to lose my place in the crowd, or lose my friends who also aren't going anywhere, so I endure another 30 minutes of taped music with them.

But then, at 11, the Manics arrive! Like a mob welcoming their heroes back from a well-won war, the crowd around me goes wild. And they should, for they have endured not only the opening act, but also three years since the last tour, and the two-month postponement of this tour due to the death of James' mother.

After a minute, James introduces the opening number, "You Stole The Sun From My Heart". And we're off! James will introduce every song, usually just giving its name. Except with the older numbers, "Motorcycle Emptiness" and "Motown Junk", where he makes comments about their age.

The set list consists of 16 songs from every almost period of their career, but nothing new, no B-sides, and nothing from the album, Gold Against The Soul. This is a welcome surprise because James had previously said the North American shows would only have songs from the last two albums, along with "Motown Junk". He said he thought that American audiences only knew the band post-Richey. Fortunately, something must have made him change his mind. Because many in this crowd obviously know their whole catalog.

The band is wonderful tonight. They don't perform exact reproductions of their records, and many songs sound better live, with James emphasizing, and even changing, certain lyrics. James' solo acoustic set gives new poignancy and beauty to "Black Dog On My Shoulder" and "This Is Yesterday". The crowd is singing along and moving with the music. Nicky is almost another audience member, since he too is singing along, to himself, and bouncing around the stage, still doing the kicks of old. He is smiling a lot. The band seems to be enjoying themselves as much as we are. All is right and happy in Manic-land.

The only problem comes at the end. After the joyous band/audience sing-along of "A Design For Life", the Manics leave the stage. The venue stays dark, the crowd eagerly awaits the inevitable encore. But it never comes. After a few minutes, the houselights start to come on, and the crowd reluctantly begins to leave. I look at my watch, and realize the Manics were only on for 70 minutes. We expected at least 90. Did something unexpected happen that caused an abrupt end to this long-awaited, fantastic night?

Tonight, the Manic Street Preachers showed me how powerful they are as a live act. In addition to producing some of today's most intelligent, grandest rock music, they are also one of the only bands worth going of the way to see perform.

My feet can recover tomorrow.


Set List

You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Faster
Tsunami
No Surface All Feeling
Everlasting
Kevin Carter
Ready For Drowning
Motown Junk
My Little Empire
Motorcycle Emptiness
Black Dog On My Shoulder
This Is Yesterday
Australia
You Love Us
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
A Design For Life

Copyright © 1999, 2004, 2005, 2009 Vivian Campbell. All rights reserved.

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