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Manic Street Preachers Lend Their Voices To Lions Over Wallabies - The Age, 28th June 2013

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Title: Manic Street Preachers Lend Their Voices To Lions Over Wallabies
Publication: The Age
Date: Friday 28th June 2013
Writer: George Palathingal

Manic Street Preachers are mixing business with pleasure by following their beloved rugby team, Lions, Down Under.

It's a dreaded Monday morning, when most people have the back-to-the-grindstone blues, but Nicky Wire is in a remarkably good mood. "It's a rare treat when two things collide that you truly love," says the bass player for Welsh rock royals Manic Street Preachers, with glee.

He's talking about the band's coming two-date mini-tour, when they will perform in Melbourne and Sydney the nights before their beloved British and Irish Lions take on the Wallabies in those cities.

It's the ultimate rock'n'rugby win-win situation: the Manics get flown to Australia to play a couple of big gigs and watch the Test matches, while other such fans can get pumped for the games with live performances of some of the most powerful and passionate Brit-rock anthems of the past 20 years (among them A Design for Life, Motorcycle Emptiness and the inevitable Australia).

The idea came from a bit of wishful thinking by Wire and singer-guitarist James Dean Bradfield. "James is quite friendly with a couple of the Welsh boys [players] - Jamie Roberts and Martyn Williams and stuff - and just...the two ideas collided," Wire says. "It took a lot of putting together - y'know, right until the last minute we weren't sure whether we'd pull it off...But it feels really exciting."

It'll be an unashamed greatest-hits show, Wire says, but "there'll be a few surprises. Y'know, James is working on some cover versions and some acoustic bits and bobs but as a rule it'll be pretty much a trawl through our history."

And what a history: the Manics arrived in an explosion of glamour, riffs and rhetoric with a ludicrously ambitious but often brilliant debut - the 1992 double album Generation Terrorists - before reaching a breathtaking creative peak with 1994's The Holy Bible.

Not long after that album's release, though, rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards, who had written most of its harrowing lyrics, went missing. His state of mind suggested by the album's content led many to assume he had taken his own life, but this was never proved. (His body never found, he was legally declared deceased in 2008.)

Despite being devastated by the disappearance of their friend, the three remaining Manics not only somehow made fourth album Everything Must Go, it remains their crowning glory. It won them Brit awards for best album and group in 1997 and they've been one of their nation's favourites ever since.

As anyone who saw the band when they last toured Australia, in 2010, will attest, they're still a phenomenal live proposition, too.

"Obviously, we've got a bit older and a bit wiser but as a rule it's still kind of raw emotion, power and energy," Wire says. "With a few lulls, these days - y'know, it's not quite as in-your-face. But I don't think that's ever changed with us.

"It's probably why we've sustained ourselves. Sometimes when our records haven't sold so well, we've still sold tickets and it's probably 'cause people know what they're getting when they come to see us - there's that mixture of entertainment and slightly-on-the-edge-ness."

Hearing Wire talk about being older and wiser can't help but raise a grin. There was a time when he almost couldn't open his mouth without making some contentious comment.

"Being 44 now, I think my university degree's probably finally coming to some good," he says, laughing sheepishly. "I think when we were young, undoubtedly we were complete gobshites - and I'm glad we were because it's the one time when you're fearless and you don't think so much about the consequences.

"I wish I could still be like that, in all honesty. But, y'know, when you're doing the school run in the morning, it just doesn't go down well. We just try and put it into our songs now."