KOKO Asia Exclusive

Passion Play







Manic Street Preachers
Fort Canning Park, Singapore
Date: 24 November 2008

It was a long time coming but as the old cliché goes, all good things do eventually come to those who wait. And wait. And wait a bit more.

So after 15 years since their last visit to the region, Welsh indie legends Manic Street Preachers finally made it back to our neck of the woods for an ultra rare live performance at Singapore’s picturesque Fort Canning Park.

And judging by the amount of happy, sweat-drenched souls filing out of the venue at the end of the show, - some still singing choruses and favourite lines - the boys from Blackwood, augmented on stage by a second guitarist and a keyboardist certainly didn’t disappoint on their long-awaited return to SE Asia.

The 3000 odd fans – which included immaculately dressed diehards gathered from as far afield as Malaysia and Indonesia - who made it to the band’s Singapore debut were treated to an entertaining, high-energy set comprising all their instantly recognisable anthems along with a choice selection culled from their latest critically-acclaimed long-player Send Away The Tigers.

The band even found the time to throw some unexpected cover-versions – namely Nirvana’s Penny Royal Tea and Rihanna’s Umbrella – as well as a soulful, stripped down solo acoustic set courtesy of singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield in among the hits to add some variety to their repertoire.

Older fans will recall that their last visit to SE Asia was an ill-fated trip to play two shows in Bangkok back in 1994 that was beset by host of unforeseen problems – madness, anorexia, nervous breakdowns and even violent self-mutilation on the part of enigmatic, tortured soul guitarist Richey James Edwards.

While there was no such drama this time round, there was still plenty of passionate onstage histrionics and killer sing-along moments from Messrs. Bradfield, Wire and Moore to keep the fans happy.

From the groovy melodic strum of Motorcycle Emptiness to the closing strains of If You Tolerate This… almost an hour-and-a-half later, the crowd reaction hardly faltered, which was testament to the band’s total dedication to putting on the best show possible. No muso self-indulgence, just pure passion play and how we loved them for it.

While the Manics show was definitely more about “the performance” rather than how good they sounded, it was still thrilling to watch the band throwing caution to the wind and rocking out unashamedly. Guitar hero Bradfield veered between eyes closed sensitivity and vein-bulging intensity while gangly bassist Nicky Wire was coolness personified - all Cheshire cat grins and leggy punk rock shapes. This was Manics stripping away the bullshit, getting back to basics and doing what they know best – making exciting guitar music and putting on a balls-out live show with plenty of jumping around.

This being Asia, the hits were what the crowd were waiting for and the Manics duly obliged, rolling them out at regular intervals to a rousing reception every time. So Design For Life was greeted like a long-lost friend while older fans went ballistic for Generation Terrorist classics like Motown Junk and You Love Us, all delivered with a raw flourish by the guys.

The Manics could have played longer (their set literally flew by), the sound could have been a tad louder but in the end, a totally rocking time was had by all. On the night, the Manics gave us quality indie rock with some punk rock spontaneity thrown into the fire for extra value. Can’t complain really.

By Robin Banks.

SET LIST:

MOTORCYCLE EMPTINESS
LA TRISTESSE DURERA
AUTUMN SONG
FASTER
MOTOWN JUNK
YOU LOVE US
1985
LITTLE BABY NOTHING
MASSES AGAINST THE CLASSES
OCEAN SPRAY
SMALL BLACK FLOWERS THAT GROW IN THE SKY
THE EVERLASTING
YOU STOLE THE SUN FROM MY HEART
EVERYTHING MUST GO
SEND AWAY THE TIGERS
A DESIGN FOR LIFE
IF YOU TOLERATE THIS YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE NEXT

Related Links
http://www.manicstreetpreachers.com
http://www.myspace.com/manics

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