Last week, Manic Street Preachers finished their first US tour in over ten years. NME’s LA woman Lyndsey Parker has already rhapsodised about quite what this means to the small but devoted following the band have out there. And last week I got the chance to see them finish the run in Philadelphia and New York.
The 1500 people at the Webster Hall in the East Village were actually one of the bigger audiences the band played to – in places like Detroit and Minneapolis it’s been more like 300 every night. But re-energised after their career-saving duo of albums ‘Send Away The Tigers’ and ‘Journal For Plague Lovers’, this was a band finally at peace with their past, and relishing the chance to give something special to the American fans who thought they might never get a chance to see the band again.
Yes, this was about taking Richey’s lyrics to the States, but this was in stark contrast to the visceral and intense UK tour around ‘Journal’, which almost looked a bit much for the band to handle at times. This was a tour shot through with pure joy.
From ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ through to the closing ‘A Design For Life’ (where James declared “we love you from the bottom of our filthy Welsh hearts!”) the band played the ultimate of Greatest Hits sets, putting in tracks from every one of their albums except ‘Lifeblood’ (“I love the fact that there’s a version of ourselves out there that I even I don’t understand,” explained James).
It was all there played with a renewed vigour; ‘Little Baby Nothing’, ‘La Tristesse Durera’, ‘Faster’, ‘No Surface All Feeling’, ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’, ‘Let Robeson Sing’, ‘Send Away The Tigers’, ‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’…
You can read the full story of the Manics’ American redemption – why it took them so long to go back, what they found when they got there, and what they think the future holds under Obama – in next week’s issue of NME.
But for now, here’s me doing a rather hamfisted interview with Nicky Wire straight after the New York show…