There is an anger in much of the Manic Street Preacher's concert performance. Perhaps they're releasing bent-up frustration, but whatever the reason it works for their fans.
Going to their Bangkok performances was like returning to the basics of acid rock: hard hitting but a bit rough on the edges. The Preachers have also been called punkish, and many other things. They have the angry energy of punk and the vibrations of heavy metal. But they don't seem to be trying to fit into any mould, instead they're playing their own type of music.
Their Friday and Saturday night concerts sold "very well", according to Media Plus which brought the band from England. They said 3,000 were crammed into the standing room only area in front of the elevated stage in Boonkrong Hall.
From the opening number Frrom Despair to Where, a battle raged between the stage and the movable barrier separating the throbbing and bouncing crowd from the band. Security guards, Media Plus employees and photographers tried to hold the barrier as it danced back and forth through three songs.
But with the lyrics of the fourth song "Life Becoming A Landslide," the young crowd won and everyone but a few security personnel fled to the aides.
It was a hot sweaty experience in the crowd throughout the 90 minutes of non-stop Manic. As people came out for breathers, several of them being carried off after fainting, they looked like they'd just run marathons down Sukhumvit Road during the heat of the day. But no one was complaining, they were hearing the Mimics preach.
The Preachers never asked the crowd to sing along, but on several occasions they offered help on the chorus. Not real difficult lyrics here, however, "Why don't you just, F... Off" is pretty easy to remember.
The Manics consist of four band members: James Dean Bradfield on vocals and guitar, Richey James on guitar, Nicky Wire on bass, and Saran Moore on drums. The basics for a band.
Although there was little high-tech gimmicks with the show, there were enough flashing lights to make one think it was Christmas on Silom Road.
During the concert, when not strutting around stage, Nicky Wire jumped straight up and down like a piston. Shirtless Richey James seldom stood still either.
The only break they had was when James Dean Bradfield sang a couple solos with his acoustic guitar. They included Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head from the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Hearing the lyrics "because I'm free, nothing's bothering me," sung with the angry touch was definitely a bit different.
They sang another song from a hit movie, too. Suicide is Painless from MASH. The crowd sang along.
The Manics are a contrary bunch, for sure. Richey James was quoted in Briton's Indiecator magazine as saying: "The thing that really pisses me off about these charity appearances by pop stars is that the minute they come off stage, they're counting their re-cord sales, pissing off to Browns and snorting cocaine out of some six year old boy's backside!"
He's not afraid to speak. his mind. But it does make one wonder if what is said is done so to get a reaction, to get attention. He was once asked that in another interview in Briton. His response was to care "4 Real" in his fore-arm during the interview.
On the other hand, during their Bangkok visit they raised funds for the Cancer Society. It was one way to deal with their manager, Philip Hall, dying of cancer last year. Bands come and go with a song in this era of one-hit video wonders. Originality is hard to find: it's hard to create. Perhaps Manic Street Preachers won't be heard of in the future, they could fall into oblivion. Richey James, for one, says they will. He says all bands do. They're not trying to play a part, they're just playing their music. That is in part what makes them appealing to many people. They're not striving to be the next plastic pop, or even rock, icons.
In Bangkok, after 90 minutes of ear piercing rock the Preachers ended with You Love Us. Most of the audience would agree.