In the past week I have been lucky enough to see Manic Street Preachers twice. Once in Manchester, and once in Bournemouth. It involved a lot of time spent on trains travelling up and down the country but it was worth every travel-sick second.
I have been to countless MSP gigs and they usually follow the same routine – arrive around midday, queue all day until doors open (7pm), and get as far to the front as possible. But not this time. This time I ventured to the pub, rather than the queue. And in all honesty it didn’t make all that much of a difference to my end crowd position (not in these mid-size venues anyway) and allowed for a much more enjoyable day on the whole. Manchester especially as the weather was glorious. We even feared sunburn! Unfortunately Bournemouth was mostly raining, the sun came out and teased us occasionally but not for very long.
Without making too many comparisons between the shows, I have to say they were quite different experiences from one another. The crowd at Manchester were awesome and I loved being among them, but you could tell Nicky (the bassist) was under the weather (he had flu, I read somewhere) but a week later at Bournemouth he seemed to be back on top form. The whole band at Bournemouth were incredibly lively and put on a spectacular show. James (the lead singer) was wonderfully animated, although he did accidentally punch himself in the face, and kept giving us all panic attacks by climbing on a speaker stack at the front of stage. It was incredible. Unfortunately the crowd was not a pleasant one. I know I am always in for a rough time at the front of a Manics crowd and am all for the jumping and the inevitable crush, but a lot of people were rude and inconsiderate in the extreme. And not just to others in the crowd, but to the band as well which was ridiculous, why are you even there? I also had two crowd surfers land on my head which I did not appreciate. Anyway, the band were magical and that is all that really matters and all that I’ll come to remember as time goes on.
The set list at both gigs was an absolute winner with some old gems and favourites thrown in. Archives Of Pain, Die In The Summertime, Masses Against The Classes, and the reappearance of Stay Beautiful which I haven’t heard live for a few years. We were treated to two new songs, Europa Geht Durch Mich, and Futurology. I love them both and cannot wait for the album to be released.
My absolute highlight of the week though, possibly my highlight of the year so far was the fact that finally, after 10 years of Manics concerts I finally got a set list! I am uncontrollably happy. I had given up all hope long ago as the roadies seem to give them out to the same familiar fans each time. But this time he folded the last one up and threw it into the crowd and as soon as I saw my chance you could have bet your life that it would be mine.
The next day before the long train journey back to Exeter, I got to explore a little bit of the surrounding Bournemouth area. The town centre was not particularly nice but the sun was shining and I enjoyed a lovely stroll along the beach and a brief paddle in the sea (it was so cold!), and of course I couldn’t resist a little play on the 2p machines in the arcade.