‘The Holy Bible’ is, without question, one of the greatest albums of all time. The Manic Street Preachers’ last album to be released before the disappearance of Richie Edwards is unafraid to explore topics from mental illness, to racism, to anorexia nervosa. The inclusion of these topics, often deemed too dark for ‘mainstream music’, is one of the many reasons that this critically acclaimed album is widely considered a punk rock masterpiece. Highlighting the tragically tormented mind of Edwards, the lyrical mastery is phenomenal, illustrating perfectly the distorted realities many of us face in everyday life.
To commemorate its 20th anniversary, the band embarked on a worldwide tour in 2014/15, playing the album in its entirety. Following the Manics every step of the way (with a cheap camera and a spectacular vision) was BAFTA award winning, Welsh producer Keiran Evans. With an aim to create an ‘anti-concert film, that sticks two fingers up at the typical concert and festival footage’, ‘Be Pure, Be Vigilant, Behave’ was born.
Premiering in a one-off screening in association with Sŵn Music Festival, the film contains no back-stage footage at all. Instead, it chooses to focus entirely on the passion behind the music, the atmosphere of the concerts, and the impact the album has on its fans.
However, preceding this was another exclusive screening. Manic Street Preachers are an unapologetically Welsh band; hailing from Blackwood and even releasing the Welsh anthem for the 2016 Football World Cup, this is a band that are truly proud of where they came from. ‘Songs From A Valley’ perfectly captures this spirit.
Formed of three music videos, also directed by Keiran Evans, it details the life of a village in the South Welsh Valleys over time. From the joys of young love in ‘Show Me The Wonder’, to the heartbreak of that torn apart during the 80s Miner’s Strikes in ‘Anthem For A Lost Cause’, cumulating in the heart-wrenching footage of the unchanging village surrounded by the dynamic elements following the closure of the mines, in ‘Rewind The Film’.
A vital piece of political film-making about the numerous communities that are often forgotten, this beautiful combination of music and film highlights the resilience and undying hope of the Welsh communities whose histories are so often misremembered, or even forgotten.
Red lights, air-raid sirens, and large, flashing, white words signalled the beginning of the second part of the screening. Immediately it is apparent that this is a powerful and visceral portrayal of the politically charged poetry that is ‘The Holy Bible’. A uniquely raw creative energy is captured through the innovative style of filming. Fans are seen to be chanting along with even the clips of speech used in tracks, completely immersed in the majesty of the music.
Featuring footage of the band, the fans, the stage, and the crowd, all edited together in a purposefully messy and anarchic fashion, this is clearly meant to be a stark contrast to the traditional festival-style coverage of live music. Focusing solely on the atmosphere and electricity that music can invoke, this footage proves that the spirit of punk rock is still alive and well, you just need to know where to look for it.
One of those rare albums that is as much a cultural statement as it is a work of art, the live recording perfectly captures just how important this album is to so many people. Glaringly honest, often painfully passionate lyrics, are perfectly complemented by superbly tight instrumental genius in one of the best live audio recordings of the album. A fitting tribute to the genius that is the aptly named ‘The Holy Bible’, it reinforces just why Manic Street Preachers remain to be one of the greatest British bands of all time.