In June, the Manics will bring their studio album tally up to an even dozen – impressive considering their one-time pledge to release a double-length debut then idealistically self-destruct. Today, 22 years and (almost) 11 albums on from Generation Terrorists, they remain ensconced in many an ardent heart, and on recent evidence seem unlikely to be dislodged any time soon.
The enthusiasm extends to tonight’s support, with The Twilight Sad’s James Graham declaring it a “pleasure and a privilege” to share the stage with one of his all-time favourite bands. From the majestic Cold Days from the Birdhouse onwards, The Sad deliver a suitably imposing and characteristically intense set; by the close, Graham spins and shakes as if physically buffeted by the stormy sounds trembling their way through the Barrowland’s sprung floor and all the way up to its starry ceiling.
It’s a room the Manic Street Preachers know well, with tonight their tenth visit to the iconic east end ballroom. The last was barely 6 months ago, yet déjà vu is avoided thanks to some strategic set-list shake-ups – most notably the insertion of a brace of songs from forthcoming LP Futurology. The title track makes a relatively muted impact, but its compatriot Europa Geht Durch Mich – a sort of krautrock-inspired Nutbush City Limits stomper – suggests an invigorating break from Rewind the Film’s tempered acoustics.
Elsewhere, highlights come from familiar quarters – a stirring Motorcycle Emptiness; self-fulfilling and self-sustaining prophecy You Love Us – but reach their peak with the less frequently visited Archives of Pain and Die in the Summertime; together, a thrillingly abrasive salute to The Holy Bible’s double decade anniversary. By balancing all eras of existence – from combustible young punks through to their still-vibrant present incarnation – the Manics ensure tonight is anything but another jog round the block.