First it was a self-aware and self-depreciating Bluetones. Then in was a resurgent and unapologetic Kula Shaker. For the final leg of our 20 years later Britpop tour it would be Manic Street Preachers performing Everything Must Go at the Hydro in Glasgow. This gig would give me a chance to right some personal wrongs.
In 1996 me and one of my school friends had planned to get tickets for the Manics,
Everything Must Go tour. It would have been my first gig in Glasgow, and at the Barrowlands to boot. Regretfully we didn’t get our arses in gear and it quickly sold out so instead the memories of my first gig are my mates heckling Semisonic for an hour to “Play Wonderwall!” at the Garage, but that’s a story for another time.
20 years on and the Manics wasn’t going to be a sell-out, illustrated by the fact my friend, upon finding out we were going on the Thursday night, managed to pick up a ticket for Saturday’s gig no bother. I was looking forward to the Hydro as despite it having being open for a couple of years now it was my first gig there. I’d been a few weeks previous to watch the darts and had been impressed by how wide and relatively shallow it was, certainly a big improvement on the old SECC venues. The fast food options are woeful though.
Editors were supporting but due to the FA cup final overrunning we managed to pitch up just as they were closing their encore with a couple of slow songs, which I didn’t recognise. I really enjoyed their first two albums (The Back Room (2005) and An End Has a Start (2007) and have had the pleasure of seeing them a few times before, notably headlining the Edinburgh corn exchange as well as supporting Razorlight at Meadowbank stadium back in the day when T at the fringe festival managed to attract big names. Now they seem to merge in with other Joy Division wannabe also-rans such as White Lies and She Wants Revenge.
After the usual debacle of decanting a couple of overpriced Desperados into plastic pint glasses we were back down the front again, ready for Manics to begin.
In an attempt to get closer to the action our group got a bit split up during the first song (Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier) mainly due to some rotund Hawaiian shirt clad oaf making a point of blocking our mate off.
Despite it being billed as an Everything Must Go tour I wasn’t sure at this point if they were planning to play the album in its entirety but then the trademark guitar of A Design for Life kicked in and with the best part of a pint still left I knew I had a decision to make. Now I’m very much in the camp of never chucking your pint but this was as close a call as I’ve had, as I was desperate to start jumping around. Being the value merchant at heart though I managed to resist and stood for the additional few seconds carefully seeing away my pint before jumping into the mixer.
In a moment of respite, catching our breadth after the first chorus, one of the boys that was jumping about next to us produced the age old Glasgow pick-me-up: a bottle of Buckfast. He had a swig and offered me some. Well, rude not to! Given we were only a few rows from the front it wasn’t long before the bouncers clocked it at which point the guy had the ingenious idea of just “going low” trying to hide behind the mosh pit and hope the bouncers wouldn’t be able to see him. I think he managed to sneak off somewhere though as that was the last I saw of him, but that gave me a good chuckle.
Now reunited with our mates we spent the rest of the performance cruising about at the front bellowing out crowd favourites Kevin Carter Everything Must Go and Australia. I really respected the fact that they stayed true to actually playing the entire album in its entirety rather than some bands I know that would bill it the same but their gig would end up as a glorified paint by numbers greatest hits show.
Having said that the second hour of the show more than satisfied fans of their entire back catalogue. They started with a couple of solo acoustic covers: “Suicide is Painless” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, before the rest of the band came on and ramped it up with Motorcycle Emptiness. With the mess that our country is currently in, the lyrics couldn’t have been any more poignant: “your joys are counterfeit, this happiness corrupt political shit.”
At one point a paper cannon of red white and green exploded from the heavens, allowing the crowd an impromptu Mumm-Ra costume, and I was half expecting a rendition of the Welsh football team euro 2016 song but alas but it never came.
They introduced “Show Me The Wonder” as their wedding song, from their 11th studio album, Rewind the Film, and I’m a fan of that albums chilled out vibe. They closed with part ballad “If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next” which I always saw as their comeback song (from their fifth album “This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours”) but it makes me feel especially old to find out this was released way back in 1998.
Cue a gentle power walk back into town, with my pal Chris feigning a minor heart attack along the way, to catch the train back to Edinburgh.
1. Elvis Impersonator: Blackpool Pier
2. A Design for Life
3. Kevin Carter
5. Everything Must Go
6. Small Black Flowers That Grow in the Sky
7. The Girl Who Wanted to Be God
10. Interiors (Song for Willem de Kooning)
11. Further Away
12. No Surface All Feeling
1. Suicide Is Painless (Theme from MASH) (Johnny Mandel cover) (Acoustic)
2. Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (Burt Bacharach cover) (Acoustic)
3. Motorcycle Emptiness
4. Walk Me to the Bridge
5. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
6. Nat West-Barclays-Midlands-Lloyds
7. You Stole the Sun From My Heart
8. Roses in the Hospital
9. (It’s Not War) Just the End of Love
10. Show Me the Wonder
11. (Feels Like) Heaven (Fiction Factory cover)
12. You Love Us
13. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next