Archive for the ‘manic street preachers’ Category

Manic Street Preachers, Metro, Chicago, 10/1

October 13, 2009

Written By: J. Byrnes
Live Photos By: Jong Chae

View all of our exclusive photos here.

Manic Street Preachers once declared that they would break up after releasing their debut album; after witnessing their live performance at Metro in Chicago, it’s a good thing that they didn’t follow their own advice.

A stadium act with numerous Top Ten singles in the UK, Europe, and Asia, this Welsh band had never really crossed over to the US masses like some of their Brit-pop contemporaries; yet their lack of commercial success on this side of the pond was not evident as their rabid fans filled this 1,500 capacity club on a cold and rainy Chicago night.

Fans who published their own Manic Street Preachers fanzine passed out ashcan issues; others bragged about the amount of driving hours they clocked in just to see a band that hadn’t played these shores since 1999’s opening spot for a Noel Gallager-fronted Oasis. It was the Chicago gathering of the unofficial Manic Street Preachers fan club, and the only requirement for membership was being at the Metro that night.

For many devotees of this brainy trio (that expanded into a touring five piece, adding a rhythm guitarist and a keyboardist), it was their first time witnessing this enigmatic, quasi-political group with a bizarre musical career that has always eluded US commercial success.

The band started in the early 1990s as a four piece. Former rhythm guitarist and lyrical contributor Richie Edwards, who had a history of self-mutilation and mental instability, mysteriously disappeared in 1995. Edwards was recently declared deceased but still never found. On the band’s latest album, Journal for Plague Lovers, (their ninth) the remaining Manics set to music previously unrecorded Edwards’ lyrics, to finally close the chapter on Richie Edwards and accept the death of their former band mate: “Richie James.”

Starting their Chicago set with the full on, energetic “Motorcycle Emptiness” from their first album Generation Terrorists, the band knew they had this Chicago audience eating right out of the palm of their hands. Performing songs that spanned their career, including a cover of The Small Faces’ “All Or Nothing,” and a Nina Persson-less “Your Love Is Not Enough,” the band proved that live, they know how to be stadium rockers as well as the indie darlings.

Singer and guitarist James Dean Bradfield peppered the night’s between-song banter with apologies about the band’s lengthy absence in the US tour market. All was quickly forgiven as the audience ate up songs from the band’s nineteen year career, including songs from their latest album Journal for Plague Lovers produced by Chicagoan Steve Albini.

In the middle of the set, Bradfield made a solo appearance on stage with only an acoustic guitar, demonstrating his exceptional playing. When the band returned for what would be their only breather, bassist Nicky Wire pogo-ed along with Bradfield to the catchy “You Love Us.” Drummer Sean Moore remained with his head down throughout most of the band’s 80-minute performance keeping time like a syncopated watch.

The night ended with the epic ballad “A Design For Life,” and without an encore, since the Manics stated that ‘when a show is over, it’s over.’ Hopefully, North American fans won’t have to wait another decade for their return.

Opening the evening was the Brooklyn-based band Bear Hands: an all male group dressed as hipster wood shop students. Their sound was reminiscent of Siouxie and The Banshees, Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire.

– J. Byrnes

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Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

September 30, 2009
manic street preachers journal for plague lovers

Written By: Victoria Hill
(Urban/Pop Editor)

Label: Columbia – Rating:

The story of the Manic Street Preachers has always been an interesting one. The band started in Wales in 1986 as a quartet. In 1995, lyricist and rhythm guitar player, Richey Edwards disappeared on the day that the band was due to travel to America for a promotional tour.

The band and Richey’s family never gave up hope in finding him, but the signs didn’t look good, as Richey’s car was found abandoned near a notorious suicide location. Richey had problems with drugs and alcohol and was known to be a cutter. Over the years, there were sightings in various countries, but they all turned out to be false. In 2008, Richey’s family legally declared him dead. The band never stopped recording, and became of the biggest acts in the UK.

Journal For Plague Lovers, is the only album to have each song written solely by Richey. The band dedicated the album to his memory, stating, “All 13 songs on the new record feature lyrics left to us by Richey. The brilliance and intelligence of the lyrics dictated that we had to finally use them. Topics include The Grande Odalisque by Ingres, Marlon Brando, Giant Haystacks, celebrity, consumerism and dysmorphia, all reiterating the genius and intellect of Richard James Edwards.”

Knowing that this album contains lyrics written by Richey, I feel like I’m listening to the last thoughts of someone who was tortured inside and was coming to the end. I can’t image what it was like for the band to record these songs.

A lyric that stood out for me was “He stood like a statue/As he was beaten across the face” from the song “Marlon JD.” The line shows the writer’s strength to stand up after taking so much across the chin.

On “All Is Vanity,” James Dean Bradfield sings, “It’s a fucked-up life, sunshine.” There’s something that seems comforting about that line; like an acknowledgment that life can be fucked up (sorry to be redundant). The track is a statement that there is more than the veneer people put up to protect themselves from heartache, and as much as life can be bad, there are good points as well.

Manic Street Preachers have always put out great albums, but the focus and intensity shown on Journal For Plague Lovers is exceptionally sharp. I felt the presence of Richey on this record, and I get the sense that band did too. I felt sad listening to the album, as I realize that this is the last we’ll ever get to hear from Richey, but I also felt a sense of closure, as Richey is now able to rest in peace.