Re-energised and reborn - it's time for the next stage

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Manic Street Preachers : London Brixton Academy

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Manic Street Preachers : London Brixton Academy

Typically, greatest hits tours are an excuse for tired spent forces to haul their threadbare arses around the country for a tedious lap of honour. But – as if you needed reminding – the Manics have never, ever done things the orthodox way. Right from the first riff of ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, it’s clear that this is a vital rock machine operating at full pelt.

They look great, too: James Dean Bradfield a magnificent vision in dark suit and shirt pirouetting through the set, Nicky the elfin goth. Albeit an elfin goth in baggy leather trousers and a cagoule. Plus, as ever, the Wire mouth is in full working order with 21st century targets – The Hives, Ash, Supergrass, (who all lack ambition) and The Datsuns (er, just shit) duly demolished. This is a man who’s obviously kept his anger simmering (un)healthily for over a decade.

Likewise the belligerent fuck-you reading of ‘You Love Us’ has more in common with youthful support act Kinesis than we should really expect from a bunch of mid-thirtysomethings. ‘Revol’ and ‘Roses In The Hospital’, meanwhile, illustrate the astonishing power of their back catalogue while the comparatively recent ‘The Masses Against The Classes’ reverberates with an air of suppressed violence.

As ‘A Design For Life’ fades, it’s hard to think of anyone apart from the Manics who could turn the tainted medium of a greatest hits set into a reassertion of principles. In an age when war is on the agenda and dissent is uncool the Manics are quite simply more inspirational than ever. Re-energised and reborn – it’s time for the next stage.

Anthony Thornton