Review: Manics mark Everything Must Go's 20th anniversary at Genting Arena
Twenty years ago Manic Street Preachers released a record which would propel the band to stadiums, win multiple awards and (almost) top the UK album charts.
Everything Must Go arrived when Britpop was King and the British record buying public had fallen back in love with indie.
With songs featuring sweeping string sections and huge anthemic choruses, it went onto be rated as one the decade’s best albums.
However, Everything Must Go’s commercial success came on the back of a turbulent time for the band.
It was released 15 months after the disappearance of guitarist and lyricist Richey Edwards and marked the first time they had toured as a trio - despite the album featuring some of Edwards’ lyrics.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the album, the band has returned to arenas across the country to perform it in full and on Saturday headlined Birmingham’s Genting Arena.
At the peak of their popularity, the Manics played to sold out stadiums and It’s worth noting from the offset, a proportion of the Genting Arena was hidden away, with the stage pulled forward.
That said, it ensured the area was packed – with little room for movement for those standing.
Joining the Manics were Birmingham’s Editors who raced through a short set of some of their biggest hits.
Editors’ combination of post-punk infused alternative, pop hooks and barratone style vocals was always going to put them in good stead with those inside the Genting.
During their eight songs set, the band played hits including Munich and Papillon, with Blood sadly absent.
As the light dimmed for the ‘Everything Must Go’ segment of the Manics’ set, frontman James Dean Bradfield walked on stage to the sound of waves washing against a beach to begin album opener Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier.
Bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore joined Bradfield as the song burst into life.
With little suspense over the setlist, the band followed with some of their biggest hits including A Design For Life, Kevin Carter and Everything Must Go while three large screens displayed accompanying music videos other visuals.
When not singing, Bradfield - sporting a dark suit and jacket – regularly left the confines of his microphone to spin around in circles while Wire, looking suitably extravagant in a drainpipe jeans, sunglasses and a jacket embroidered with patches, bounded up and down in front of bass amps adorning the Welsh flag.
The bassist dedicated Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky to poet Sylvia Plath and his “dear cheek-boned friend” Edwards.
Wire was on chatty form all evening, joking with fans ahead of Australia that despite the song’s lyrics about wanting to run away, the furthest he got was two days in Torquay.
While several of Everything Must Go’s songs still crop up in regular sets, the likes of Removables, Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning) and Further Away seldom get outings so to hear the band play these was great.
Ahead of No Surface All Feeling, Bradfield addressed the Birmingham crowd to say he hoped they hadn’t ruined the album for them before encouraging the arena to jump up and down for the LP’s closing track.
The band’s run through of Everything Must Go’s 12 songs was a resounding success.
Bradfield’s voice sounded as powerful as ever, with the trio benefitting from a touring guitarist and keyboard player.
The number of hit singles on the album and the strength of the remaining songs are a testament to why It’s so highly lauded.
After a short break, Bradfield returned for the second half of their set which was a run through of some of the band’s other biggest hits.
Initially playing “Manics bingo” and taking requests, he played a snippet of chart topping single Masses Against The Classes before continuing with Tsunami and Motorcycle Emptiness.
Wire continued to chat with the Genting crowd, recalling tales of previously playing in the city.
The mention of gigs at the Aston Villa Leisure Centre was greeted with ‘boos’ by the ‘blue’ side of the audience, with football fan Wire explaining he thought he might get that response - going on to explain he was looking forward to next season’s derby.
Fans lining the barrier were treated to a very rare outing of Generation Terrorists album track Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds and Gold Against The Soul’s Roses In The Hospital.
There was also a cover of Fiction Factory’s (Feels Like) Heaven before You Love us and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next brought the second half of the show to a close.
While a glorious romp through some of their other big hits, the second half of the gig had a certain sense of familiarity about it.
Other than one genuine rarity, it’d have been nice to see the band take more chances with the second set and draw from a wider range of tracks from across their other 11 albums.
Playing on the same night as the Eurovision Song content would have been the perfect excuse for a blast of Miss Europa Disco Dancer while finishing with Tolerate didn’t quite have the impact ending closing with You Love US could have.
Nit-picking aside, it was largely a triumphant return to areas for Manic Street Preachers and a reminder why Everything Must Go is one of the 1990s most loved albums.
Everything Must Go set:
Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier
A Design for Life
Everything Must Go
Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky
The Girl Who Wanted to Be God
Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)
No Surface All Feeling
The Masses Against the Classes (Acoustic snippet)
Walk Me to the Bridge
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
You Stole the Sun From My Heart
Roses in the Hospital
(It’s Not War) Just the End of Love
(Feels Like) Heaven (Fiction Factory cover)
You Love Us
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next