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Shockwaves NME Awards Big Gig 2008!

Manic Street Preachers, Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, Klaxons and The Cribs! (February 28)

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Photo Gallery: Manic Street Preachers

Godlike Genius Awards, of course, get handed out every year at the Shockwaves NME Awards. It’s just how we roll. So what marks one Godlike Genius out from another? For NME’s money, it’s the ones that keep us guessing that are the most special – just as the Manic Street Preachers do at 02 Arena tonight. Not happy with merely squeezing a couple of covers into their set – the version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ that’s currently wearing out your hi-fi and a run-though of poodle-punk classic ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ by The Cult - they also drag out Catatonia’s reality TV star Cerys Mathews out for ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’.

Seriously, we weren’t expecting that, lads.

Nor were we expecting to see the brothers Jarman go an entire Cribs set without spilling blood. We reckon it’s down to the calming influence of old grandfather indie Johnny Marr, who takes centre stage and steals the show during the Wakefield indie-punks’ set tonight. “This is a billion pound venue you’re all sitting in” Ryan helpfully reminds us during their whistlestop career tour, a journey that takes in ‘Hey Scenesters’ and ‘I’m A Realist’. His anti-commercial brain is probably doing overtime, imagining how many Transit vans and Ginsters pasties he could buy with such a giant sum of cash.

Next, Klaxons hit the stage dressed all in black, with James Righton and Jamie Reynolds decked-out in striking cloaked hoods. They look positively spooky, leading the throng through ‘Atlantis To Interzone’ and ‘Majik’ like the grim reapers of New Rave.

Meanwhile, a quick NME straw poll of fans tonight reveals Bloc Party to be the band most people are here to see apart from the Manics. Not that this stops Kele Okereke fretting about the band’s performance. “This is a massive place isn’t it?” he trembles at one point. “I saw Prince here a while ago and it wasn’t very intimate, so I hope you all have a good time.” He needn’t worry – ‘Flux’ and ‘The Prayer’ send the 02 into wild paroxysms of pleasure not seen since The Beatles and The Stones shared an NME Poll Winners bill.

“Why the fuck didn’t you vote for The Cribs to win anything” asks Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson by way of introduction tonight, before displaying their Grade-A arena-rock expertise. Quite simple, ‘Ruby’, ‘I Predict A Riot’ and ‘The Modern Way’ should be killed, stuffed and stuck in a museum, such is their power to turn an arena of wild-eyed music fans in a heaving fug of power-pop ecstasy.

All of which, however, is a mere sideline for the Manic Street Preachers peerless brilliance. The band treat the 02 to a stunning, career-spanning set - everything from ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ to the more recent ‘Autumnsong’ – that takes in the aforementioned covers, huge glitter explosions and even, aw shucks, a shout-out to NME.

“We’re very fucking happy taffs tonight” announces James at one point, visibly choked. Really, James, tonight the pleasure is all ours.

Rick Martin

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