Manic Street Preachers bring their ‘cerebral drinking songs’ to Bilbao BBK festival

Band mock their back catalogue as they play Spanish bash

Manic Street Preachers played a nostalgic yet self-deprecating set at Spain’s Bilbao BBK festival on Saturday (10 July).

Choosing not to air any tracks from their forthcoming studio album ‘Postcards From A Young Man’, due for release in September, the band instead unleashed a number of early hits, including opener ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’.

In a light-hearted mood throughout, frontman James Dean Bradfield described their debut album, 1992’s ‘Generation Terrorists’, as a “soft metal classic, don’t knock it!”, before saying, “It came out 20 years ago [sic], so that would make me… 22!”

Dressed all in black in front of their trademark Welsh flag, and playing second on the bill to Faith No More, this was the Manic Street Preachers‘ first gig in the Basque region in 12 years. Bradfield was quick to pay tribute to the “fucking beautiful crowd”, telling the 20,000-strong audience, “You smell good, you look good, you sound good.”

The frontman later described ‘A Design For Life’ as “a cerebral drinking song from South Wales”, and prefaced a solo acoustic version of ‘The Everlasting’ with a cheeky burst of Ritchie Valens‘ 1958 hit ‘La Bamba’.

Similarly, before playing the band’s 2000 hit ‘The Masses Against The Classes’, the singer jokingly observed: “This was a Number One single in the UK. Over here it probably got to fucking number 102.”

In fact, the crowd seemed to know the post-‘Holy Bible’ material far better than the early hits, saving their most enthusiastic reaction for closer ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ – a fitting choice since the song was written about Welsh volunteers fighting in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

Manic Street Preachers played:

‘Motorcycle Emptiness’
‘No Surface All Feeling’
‘Suicide Is Painless’
‘From Despair To Where’
‘The Masses Against The Classes’
‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’
‘La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh)’
‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’
‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’
‘A Design For Life’
‘The Everlasting’
‘Little Baby Nothing’
‘Kevin Carter’
‘You Love Us’
‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’

Earlier in the day, the Manic Street Preachers‘ countrymen Feeder had entertained the crowd – who were seemingly unfamiliar with songs such as ‘Buck Rogers’ and ‘Just The Way I’m Feeling’ – with a cover of Nirvana‘s ‘Territorial Pissings’.

The previous day (July 9), Paul Weller played a set heavy on material from this year’s ‘Wake Up The Nation’ album, though he also treated old-school fans to an aggressive, electrified version of The Jam‘s ‘That’s Entertainment’.

Headlining that day’s festivities were German industrial metal veterans Rammstein, who drew a huge crowd with an ambitious stage show that included fireworks and giant jets of flame bursting from the stage.