Manic Street Preachers – Times Square, Newcastle, UK (5th August 2017)

On Saturday night saw the Manic Street Preachers at Live From Time Square – not only catching the Welsh alternative rockers at their first Newcastle gig in seven years, but also as the second to last headline act of the festival, that sees a series of open air concerts take place in Newcastle Upon Tune each Summer. The last couple of years have seen the band’s live sets pay homage to the twenty year anniversaries of two of their records; ‘The Holy Bible’ and ‘Everything Must Go’, with their current Summer tour being the first to properly air tracks from all areas of their career since early 2015. Walking onstage to rapturous applause, their set got off to a flying start with the first hit of the night; ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, before ‘Everything Must Go’ and ‘Your Love Alone Is Not Enough’.

After a hit heavy start, things were then slightly (but only slightly) slowed down as the lights turned a gorgeous shade of orange for the stunning ‘Indian Summer’ from their recently reissued 2007 album, ‘Send Away The Tigers’, with vocalist and guitarist James Dean Bradfield connecting with the crowd as he named Newcastle venues that they’ve previously had the pleasure of playing. It wasn’t long before the pace was rapidly increased once more for ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ and their cover of The The ‘This Is The Day’. The Manic Street Preachers are a band with hits aplenty and magic lies in the way that they place them within their set list, ensuring that not only are fans both old and new catered for throughout the duration of their set, but album tracks such as ‘Send Away The Tigers’ and the exhilarating ‘No Surface All Feeling’ get an airing.

The atmospheric ‘My Little Empire’, one of the darker tracks from ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’, was one of the highlights of the night, showcasing Bradfield’s vocals, though it was his solo acoustic rendition of ‘The Masses Against The Classes’ that well and truly highlighted his vocal capacity. Bradfield also played an emotive, acoustic rendition of ‘Ocean Spray’, dedicated to the NHS and featuring Gavin Fitzjohn on the trumpet.

Introduced by Bradfield as the bands driving beat, Sean Moore is perhaps one of the most underrated drummers out there – something he more than proved throughout the entirety of the set, particularly during ‘No Surface All Feeling’, sharing the spotlight with Nicky Wire’s booming bass and Bradfield’s intricate riffs. The trio showed a great deal of enthusiasm throughout their set, with Wire’s famous onstage strut and Bradfield’s 360 degree spins (whilst somehow managing to maintain the riffs that have given him his guitar hero reputation) adding even more charm to the Manic Street Preachers experience.

Based on the electric reaction that every track received, each and every one could have been a hit, with the bands frantic performance of ‘You Love Us’ driving the already animated crowd wild. As set came to a close, the band played the rousing, brass peppered ‘Show Me The Wonder’, before diving into the unforgettable intro to ‘A Design For Life’. After a huge gap between Newcastle gigs, the Manic Street Preachers more than made up for their absence with an almighty set.