05
Jan
08

God Save the Manics…and the Music Press in General

I think it’s fairly safe to say my life revolves around music, books, decent films and television (ie: stuff most people don’t watch), and travel. I like to write, and I also like to express opinions that people who are not music fans just smile and nod at. Now I have somewhere to put them. The opinions, not the people who are not music fans – although, trapping certain people in a shoddily-designed blog would be fitting.

It only seemed appropriate to begin this music blog with my favourite band of all time – the Manic Street Preachers. Not to mention the fact I ripped my blog name from them as well. The Manics are the only band that can pair a blistering guitar solo with politics so seamlessly and intelligently. I will always admire their honesty – even when they contradict themselves. The following is a review I wrote way back in May 2007 about the May 12th Manics gig at the Student Union in Cardiff. I think it’s a fitting start to a blog that will feature music I like and support – signed or unsigned. I’m tired of sitting back and moaning about how bad the music press is these days when I can create my own.

So here it goes…I shall blunder along with a completely delusional amount of self-belief. After all, it worked for the Manics.

The Art of Being a Manics Fan

Ask anyone who knows me fairly well and he/she will probably tell you that I’m certifiably insane when it comes to the Manic Street Preachers. I love them above all other bands (David Bowie tops my solo artist list). I’ve bought up countless singles, bootleg DVDs of TV appearances and concerts, a limited edition magazine (that cost me about $60), a relatively rare vinyl edition of “Motown Junk” (that cost me about $50), and a t-shirt (again, $50) off Ebay. I know the lyrics to a good chunk of their songs (including B-sides), which may not sound fanatical enough unless you actually read their lyrics and realize that they’re so complex that sometimes James Dean Bradfield (the singer) doesn’t remember them completely. I woke up at 4AM to buy tickets to their May 12 gig in Cardiff off Ticketmaster and then went to work a couple of hours later (nearly crying, which knowing me, is a pretty rare occurrence). Living in Winnipeg, Canada, one just doesn’t meet other Manics fans. One doesn’t usually even meet people who are aware of the Manics. It gets a bit lonely and starts to make you wonder if perhaps you really are a bit crackers to love them with such a passion. Of course I was aware that in the UK there are hardcore Manics fans, but just this past Saturday I got to witness Manics fandom firsthand and it’s truly glorious.

I didn’t get to the venue – Cardiff University Student Union – until about an hour and a half prior to the doors opening and there were already legions of fans camped outside the door. They had likely been their all day (or perhaps even from the night before since many of them had seen the show the previous night) and were in full Manics regalia. Some wore leopard print from head to toe; others wore boas or tiaras; some wore military gear; others wore Manics t-shirts from assorted previous concerts. One guy dressed in a military jacket (representative of The Holy Bible era) on the front of which he had scrawled “PCP” (the title to one of the songs on THB) and on the back of which he wrote the lyrics to the chorus of “Yes” (another THB song). He also had warpaint under his eyes and a haircut in imitation of Nicky Wire (the bassist). Another guy, who I swear I saw before on the DVD for the Manics millennium gig, was a Richey (the guitarist who went missing in 1995) lookalike with a leopard skin coat and eyeliner. Two girls dressed up to look like the girls on the front of the new Manics album – namely, one in a fairy outfit complete with wings and one in a devil’s outfit with horns. Another two girls, who perhaps spent the most time in preparation, are known as Team Wire (as in Nicky Wire). They wore identical outfits which included Team Wire visors and jackets, glittery red highheels, glitter makeup, cheerleader pompoms, sparkly wristbands, red nailpolish and red glittery cosmetic bags (I had plenty of time to observe them since they stood nearly right in front of me for the duration of the gig). One guy in a Generations Terrorists-era t-shirt kept asking everyone if they had an extra ticket because his camera battery had run out during the show the night before – utlimately he got a ticket from a tout for $100, twice the regular price. However, I could have seen myself do the exact same thing if I hadn’t been able to get a ticket. Before I had even reached the queue, an older man had stopped us in the stairwell, asking where the washrooms were. When he saw my Manics t-shirt, he asked if I was a Manics fan and if I was going to the show, and when I said yes and that I had come from Canada to see them, he pumped his fist in the air and screamed “Yeah.” Then he told me, “Have fun, darling.” All everyone could talk about was the Manics and I suddenly no longer felt alone.

At first I was a bit concerned that I hadn’t gotten their early enough to be near the front (I HAD to be at the front for this show), but I still managed to squeeze in right behind a shorter girl right at the barrier almost directly in front of Nicky Wire (this was after I sprinted past a couple who were ahead of us in line and began taking two stairs at a time). I had a brilliantly clear view of the whole band (Nicky was obscured from time to time by Team Wire’s pompoms). To be honest, it was probably best that I wasn’t right at the barrier because other people’s bodies protected me from crowd surges. Of course the opening act wasn’t due to come on for another hour, but people had already nearly filled the floor in front of the stage in anticipation. While the opening band, Fear of Music (seemingly underfed Mancunian teenagers), made an effort, the response was polite and fairly muted – in the face of these kind of fans, I don’t think most bands could stand up very well, and I really don’t think this band was up to the task anyhow. I think they elicited just as many screams as those that came when the roadie placed Nicky Wire’s signature boa-draped mic stand on the stage.

When the Manics finally took to the stage (approximately 45 minutes after Fear of Music left it), the audience careened forward and screamed. They were back to wearing military regalia akin to The Holy Bible days (something I’m so thankful to have witnessed), and Nicky Wire, wearing white jeans reminiscent of the Generation Terrorist days and his usual eye makeup, looked as viciously glamourous as he did fifteen years ago. His hair is cut shorter again and dyed a reddish colour, as the rest of his ensemble, recalling the golden years of the Manics vitriolic beginnings. When they launched into the opening riff of “You Love Us” (their tongue-in-cheek middle finger to their critics at the time of Generations Terrorists), I felt my heart hurtle into my throat as I screamed out every line. And the brilliant part of it all was that every other soul around me screamed out the lines too and we all pumped our fingers into the air, punctuating the chorus “You – love – us, oh – you- love – us, you love, you – love – us, you – love – us, you – love – us, you love.” It was the perfect moment of organic synchronicity – the crowd moved as one and knew intuitively what to do. I felt a communal feeling unlike any that I’ve ever experienced at a gig – the fans’ energy crashed into the band’s energy to create the most intense symbiosis. “You Love Us” was followed by “Send Away the Tigers,” the title track off of their new album, and it was greeted like any of their classic songs. The unbelievable 22-song set included at least half of the songs off SATT, and though the album had officially just released 5 days earlier, fans (including myself) were screaming the lyrics along with James as though they were old favourites.

There were the ubiquitous yells requesting “Sleepflower” (to which I contributed), the first track off the Gold Against the Soul album and one that was never released as a single. It’s inherently a fan favourite and we all know it will be requested. Just as we know the “1,2,3” count before the chorus of “You Stole the Sun From My Heart” kicks in and the crowd jumps in unison.

Throughout the gig, the Wire often closed his eyes and mouthed lyrics along with James’s singing, a blissed-out look on his face. Sometimes he looked out into the audience and flashed his Cheshire cat grin or laughed (perhaps at the constant pointing of fingers pumping his way or perhaps at the sheer strangeness of Team Wire). He loped and marched in circles about the stage, often doing his well-known scissor-like jumps. Sean Moore, the drummer, kept time in his darker portion of the stage, relatively unnoticed, but in a way that we know he prefers. He is the steady backbone and an amazing musician in his own right. James wheeled and careened during breaks in his singing and chatted to the audience in between songs. I believe he’s one of the most talented musicians in the world and watching him play guitar live was incredible – his solos were blinding. Appropriately, at one point just before “Faster,” he took a fan’s military hat and put it on. When the rest of the band left him to do his acoustic set alone (“Yes” and “No Surface, All Feeling”), he sang like an angel wracked with the pain and inanity of the world. So vulnerable, but also so angry.

After James’s acoustic set, Nicky came back to the stage wearing his signature skirt and high socks combination, displaying that James was indeed correct when earlier he proclaimed Nicky to have “the best legs in rock.” The Wire’s knees sometimes knocked together in time to the music beneath the white skirt and pink leopard print belt or he would brace one leg up on the monitor and swing his bass into the air. At other times, he wielded his mic stand like the captain of a people’s army, goading the fans on in their outrage against the state of the world’s politics and assinine, blind consumerism.

One of the many highlights of the gig for me was during “Little Baby Nothing” when the Wire came off the stage and stood about two feet away from me. He mouthed the refrain “You are pure, you are snow, we are the useless sluts that they mould” while gesturing along with us. His kohl-rimmed eyes were shining with intensity and he reinforced the feeling that he was one of us – we all knew how much the lyrics meant to us. So rock and roll, but at the same time, so honest.

Even though much of the time I could no longer breathe in the crush of bodies, I still managed to sing along with the last bit of air escaping my lungs. I couldn’t remain silent even if I blacked out in the process. These songs meant too much to me – their lyrics are so intelligent and earnest, whether they’re lambasting politics or describing the bleak inner landscape of those whose only mistake was thinking too much.

The expected gig finale, “A Design for Life”, ended with Nicky hoisting his boa-draped mic stand into the air in a final rallying cry. Right before he left the stage, he re-wrapped his black and white scarf around his neck in a glam flourish. And of course the Manics are too intelligent to have a hackneyed encore, and they never need one. They had already given the fans all they could possibly give.

This show was probably the closest I could ever get to seeing the Manics in either their Generation Terrorists or Holy Bible days. There was even the odd moment when I could feel Richey’s presence in it all – I suppose he’ll always be there. My only regret is not staying outside after the gig to see if I could meet the band – who knows when I’ll ever, if ever, get to see them again, especially at such a small venue. But I suppose that just raises the bar for more dreams – after all, I never thought I would ever see the Manics live and even if I saw them live, I never thought it would be six feet away from them in the closest thing to a hometown gig.

At the end of the gig, I peeled my dripping, bruised body away from everyone else and turned to look back. There was a boy adjusting his fishnet stockings and small groups of leopard printed people meeting up with the military attired. The room began to empty, revealing a floor littered with puddles of beer and boa feathers. The Manics gig had truly meant something. Meant something to all of us.

Little Baby Nothing (Streetcar Named Desire Intro) – Manic Street Preachers

Firefight – Manic Street Preachers

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Gigs Attended

Arcade Fire w/ Bell Orchestre + Wolf Parade (2005)

Arctic Monkeys w/ Reverend and the Makers (2007)

Austra w/ Young Galaxy + Tasseomancy (2011)

Big Audio Dynamite (2011)

Billy Bragg w/ Ron Hawkins (2009)

Billy Idol w/ Bif Naked (2005)

Bloc Party w/ Hot Hot Heat (2009)

Buzzcocks w/ The Dollyrots (2010)

Damo Suzuki (2012)

David Bowie w/ The Polyphonic Spree (2004)

Diamond Rings w/ PS I Love You + The Cannon Bros. (2011)

Diamond Rings w/ Gold & Youth (2012)

Dragonette w/ Ruby Jean & the Thoughtful Bees (2009)

Frank Turner w/ The Cavaliers (2010)

Frank Turner w/ Into It Over It + Andrew Jackson Jihad (2011)

Franz Ferdinand w/ Think About Life (2009)

Gang of Four w/ Hollerado (2011)

Good Shoes w/ The Moths + The Envelopes (2007)

Hot Hot Heat w/ The Futureheads + Louis XIV (2005)

IAMX w/ closethuman (2007)

IAMX w/ Coma Soft + The Hourly Radio (2007)

Interpol (2007)

Janelle Monae w/ Roman GianArthur (2012)

Joel Plaskett Emergency w/ Frank Turner (2012)

Jonathan Richman (2011)

Keane w/ Lights (2009)

Lou Reed w/ Buke and Gass (2011)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Fear of Music (2007)

Manic Street Preachers w/ Bear Hands (2009)

Manic Street Preachers at Wanaja Festival (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Old Folks Home (2009)

Mother Mother w/ Whale Tooth (2011)

Mother Mother w/ Hannah Georgas (2012)

MSTRKRFT w/ Felix Cartal (2008)

Muse (2004)

Nine Inch Nails w/ Death From Above 1979 + Queens of the Stone Age (2005)

of Montreal w/ Janelle Monae (2010)

Owen Pallett w/ Little Scream (2010)

Patrick Wolf w/ Bishi (2007)

Prince (2011)

Pulp w/ Grace Jones, TV on the Radio, The Hives, The Horrors, Metronomy, Devotcka, Vintage Trouble (2011)

Rufus Wainwright w/ Teddy Thompson (2010)

Snow Patrol w/ Embrace (2005)

Snow Patrol w/ OK Go + Silversun Pickups (2007)

Sons and Daughters w/ Bodies of Water (2008)

Stars w/ Thurston Revival (2006)

Stars w/ The Details (2008)

Stars (2010)

Steven Severin (2010)

Stroszek (2007)

The Antlers w/ Haunter (2012)

The Flaming Lips w/ Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti (2010)

The Jesus and Mary Chain w/ Nightbox (2012)

The Killers w/ Ambulance Ltd (2004)

The New Pornographers w/ Novillero (2008)

The New Pornographers w/ The Mountain Goats (2010)

The Ordinary Boys w/ Young Soul Rebels (2006)

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart w/ Suun (2011)

The Rakes w/ The Young Knives (2006)

The Raveonettes w/ Black Acid (2008)

The Stills w/ Gentleman Reg (2009)

The Subways w/ The Mad Young Darlings (2006)

Tokyo Police Club w/ Smoosh + Attack in Black (2008)

TV on the Radio w/ The Dirty Projectors (2009)

Yann Tiersen w/ Breathe Owl Breathe (2011)

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The only certain thing that is left about me

There is no part of my body that has not been used

Pity or pain, to show displeasure's shame

Everyone I've loved or hated always seems to leave

Photobucket

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

The Smiths Queen is Dead

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're happy

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Oh, Keats and Yeats are on your side

A dreaded sunny day

So let's go where we're wanted

And I meet you at the cemetry gates

Keats and Yeats are on your side

But you lose 'cause weird lover Wilde is on mine

The Clash London Calling

When they kick at your front door

How you gonna come?

With your hands on your head

Or on the trigger of your gun

Photobucket

Charles Windsor, who's at the door

At such an hour, who's at the door

In the back of an old green Cortina

You're on your way to the guillotine

Here the rabble comes

The kind you hoped were dead

They've come to chop, to chop off your head

Photobucket

Then you came with your breezeblocks

Smashing up my face like a bus-stop

You think you're giving

But you're taking my life away

Photobucket

Won't someone give me more fun?

(and the skin flies all around us)

We kiss in his room to a popular tune

Oh, real drowners

Photobucket

Don't walk away

In silence

See the danger

Always danger

Endless talking

Life rebuilding

Don't walk away

Walk in silence

Don't turn away in silence

Your confusion

My illusion

Worn like a mask of self-hate

Confronts and then dies

Don't walk away

Photobucket

You don't want to hurt me

But see how deep the bullet lies

Unaware I'm tearing you asunder

Oh there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love

Tell me we both matter don't we

The Associates Affectionate

I don't know whether

To over or under estimate you

Whether to over or under estimate you

For when I come over

You then put me under

Personal taste is a matter of gender

Photobucket

I wake at dusk to go alone without a light

To the unknown

I want this night inside of me

I want to feel

I want this speeding

I want that speeding

Photobucket

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what common people do

You'll never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And dance and drink and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Vanilla Swingers

All I have is words, words that don't obtain

And I feel I'm a stain on your horizon

So I stay away - it's easier that way

And there won't be no-one I need to rely on

Is it him, is it me

Or is there something only I can see

How did I get here, why do we blow around like straw dogs on the breeze

I'm a special one, what they used to say

But I've to stay on, finish levels-A

You don't need exams when you've read John Gray

The Indelicates American Demo

And nobody ever comes alive

And the journalists clamour round glamour like flies

And boys who should know better grin and get high

With fat men who once met the MC5

And no one discusses what they don't understand

And no one does anything to harm the brand

And this gift is an illusion, this isn't hard

Absolutely anyone can play the fucking guitar

JAMC Darklands

And we tried so hard

And we looked so good

And we lived our lives in black

Photobucket

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her leg and then he was a she

She says, hey babe,

Take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side

Photobucket

Hide on the promenade

Etch a postcard:

How I dearly wish I was not here

In the seaside town...that they forgot to bomb

Come, come, come - nuclear bomb

Photobucket

Back when we were kids

We would always know when to stop

And now all the good kids are messing up

Nobody has gained or accomplished anything

Wire Pink Flag

Prices have risen since the government fell

Casualties increase as the enemy shell

The climate's unhealthy, flies and rats thrive

And sooner or later the end will arrive

This is your correspondent, running out of tape

Gunfire's increasing, looting, burning, rape

Photobucket

Well, maybe there's a god above

But all I've ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you

It's not a cry that you hear at night

It's not somebody who's seen the light

It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Photobucket

And what costume shall the poor girl wear

To all tomorrow's parties

For Thursday's child is Sunday's clown

For whom none will go mourning

Photobucket

My body is your body

I won't tell anybody

If you want to use my body

Go for it

Photobucket

Oh it's opening time

Down on Fascination Street

So let's cut the conversation

And get out for a bit

Because I feel it all fading and paling

And I'm begging

To drag you down with me

Mansun Six

And you see, I kind of shivered to conformity

Did you see the way I cowered to authority

You see, my life, it's a series of compromises anyway

It's a sham, and I'm conditioned to accept it all, you see

Japan Gentlemen

Take in the country air, you'll never win

Gentlemen take polaroids

They fall in love, they fall in love

Photobucket

We just want to emote til we're dead

I know we suffer for fashion

Or whatever

We don't want these days to ever end

We just want to emasculate them forever

Forever, forever

Pretty sirens don't go flat

It's not supposed to happen like that

Longpigs The Sun

There's no perfume I can buy

Make me smell like myself

So I put on perfume

To make me smell like someone else

In bed

Calvin Harris I Created Disco

I got love for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

I've got hugs for you if you were born in the 80's, the 80's

Photobucket

Does his makeup in his room

Douse himself with cheap perfume

Eyeholes in a paper bag

Greatest lay I ever had

Kind of guy who mates for life

Gotta help him find a wife

We're a couple, when our bodies double

Simple Minds Sons and Fascination

Summer rains are here

Savaged beauty life

Falling here from grace

Sister feeling call

Cruising land to land

No faith no creed no soul

Half a world away

Beauty sleeps in time

Sound and fury play

Bloc Party Silent Alarm

North to south

Empty

Running on

Bravado

As if to say, as if to say

He doesn't like chocolate

He's born a liar, he'll die a liar

Some things will never be different

Photobucket

LCD Soundsystem

Well Daft Punk is playing at my house, my house

I've waited 7 years and 15 days

There's every kid for miles at my house, my house

And the neighbors can't...call the police

There's a fist fight brewin' at my house, my house

Because the jocks can't...get in the door

Johnny Boy

I just can't help believing

Though believing sees me cursed

Stars Set Yourself

I am trying to say

What I want to say

Without having to say "I love you"

Josef K Entomology

It took 10 years to realise why the angels start to cry

When you go home down the main

Your happy smile

Your funny name

Cocteau Twins Bluebell

Photobucket

Doesn't she look a million with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Yes, she's a beautiful brunette angel from heaven with her hairagami set

Hair kisses 'n' hair architecture

Augment a beautiful brunette

New Order Power Corruption

How does it feel

To treat me like you do

When you've laid your hands upon me

And told me who you are

Photobucket

You must let her go

She's not crying

Photobucket

Baiting

Feeling like I'm waiting

Modern times

Valentines

Hating

Hating to distraction

Just leave them alone

Whipcrack

Girls in the back

Girls in the back

Puressence Don't Forget

They say come back to earth and start getting real, yeah

I say come back to earth and start getting real

I know I can't

Photobucket

So I walk right up to you

And you walk all over me

And I ask you what you want

And you tell me what you need

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The problem of leisure

What to do for pleasure

Ideal love a new purchase

A market of the senses

Dream of the perfect life

Economic circumstances

The body is good business

Sell out, maintain the interest

Photobucket

Sitting in my armchair thinking again and again and again

Going round in a circle I can't get out

Then I look around thinking day and night and day

Then you look around - there must be some explanation

And the tension builds

Psychdedelic Furs

India, India

You're my love song

India, you're my love song

In the flowers

You can have me in the flowers

We will dance alone

And live our useless lives

Ladytron Light Magic

They only want you when you're seventeen

When you're twenty-one

You're no fun

They take a polaroid and let you go

Say they'll let you know

Photobucket

No consolation prizes

Spit out your lies and chewing gum

Cut off your hair yeah that's it!

If you look like that I swear I'm gonna love you more

Photobucket

All the neighbors are startin' up a fire

Burning all the old folks, the witches and the liars.

My eyes are covered by the hands of my unborn kids

But my heart keeps watchin' through the skin of my eyelids

Photobucket

Prince charming

Prince charming

Ridicule is nothing to be scared of

Don't you ever, don't you ever

Stop being dandy, showing me you're handsome


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