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04/05/18 - The Zine - Llandudno Venue Cymru Arena Review

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01/05/18 Llandudno Venue Cymru Arena

Publication: The Zine
Date: Friday 4th May 2018
Writer: Lorna Cort

The Manics are currently mid-way through a UK stadium tour, promoting their acclaimed new album ‘Resistance is Futile’. Tonight sees them playing a sold-out Venue Cymru, situated on the sea front of the picturesque Llandudno Bay. After a four hour train journey from south London, I’m here too!

Following a strong support set from The Coral, the stage backdrop is illuminated with a quote from artist Edward Hopper – ‘If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint’. The glowing red letters are the beginning of an impressive and thought provoking visual feast by film maker Kieran Evans.

The band take to the stage and open with recent single International Blue, their ode to artist Yves Klein. It’s obvious from the start that the Manics, and James especially are in jubilant mood and happy to be playing on home turf.

The guitar riff to International Blue has been compared to one of their classic singles, Motorcycle Emptiness, and this is the very song they play next. James pirouettes with his white Les Paul guitar and Nicky Wire scissor kicks, while the front rows sing every word back at them. The staccato drums of Sean Moore introduce the third song No Surface, All Feeling, this is just the start of an eclectic and surprising set. The Manics have such a huge back catalogue of songs to choose from, it’s fantastic to see rarities appearing on the set list in addition to the crowd-pleasing singles and tracks from the new album.

The ‘almost single’ 4 Ever Delayed and ‘the actual single’ There By the Grace of God both get an airing and are well received by the packed crowd. An unusual choice is the Bacharach-esque instrumental Horses Under Starlight (a mid-90’s B-side) which puts the spotlight onto talented trumpet player Gavin Fitzjohn. The hits return with one of their greatest singles If You Tolerate This, Your Children Will Be Next, the final chorus punctuated by an explosion of blue and silver streamers from the stage.

Unfortunately, most of them become tangled in the rafters and hang down for the rest of the gig like a shimmering curtain above the crowd. Switching to an acoustic guitar for his solo spot, James returns to the stage for a singalong version of Faster from The Holy Bible. A dark time in the band’s 30 year history which also produced some of their most critically acclaimed work. It’s also amazing to hear an acoustic rendition of From Despair to Where, the ending segues into a chorus of Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler, of course, another South Wales musical superstar!

The full band return to the stage and Wire takes the opportunity to praise the local chip shops (I agree, I had some amazing chips before the gig!) and to reminisce about a gig they played way back in 1991 at nearby Buckley Tivoli, here everyone hated them. They probably played the next song that night too – You Love Us ! The 1992 black and white promo video plays on the screen behind the band, and you can’t help watching the beautiful Nick and Richey, the Glamour Twins, feeding each other oysters while James perfects his rock star poses with Guitar Hero scrawled on his Les Paul. Sigh...

Just when you think the gig is almost over another song starts, highlights include new tracks Hold Me Like a Heaven (the next planned release) and People Give In, the final two songs are my favourite Slash and Burn, and the 23rd track this evening has to be Design For Life. Suddenly every phone in the building seems to be pointed at the stage, and the confetti canons explode into life once more, this time with gold confetti raining onto the front rows.