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Manic Street Preachers May Be A Classic Band But It’s A New Generation Of Fans Who Should Be Listening - Louder Than War, 25th February 2023

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Manic Street Preachers May Be A Classic Band But It’s A New Generation Of Fans Who Should Be Listening
Publication: Louder Than War
Date: Saturday 25th February 2023
Writer: John Robb

Since putting out their first album in 1992 Manic Street Preachers have satisfied their fans with a series of catchy, hard-hitting rock tracks. But it’s a new generation of fans who should be listening to The Manics here’s why explains Luke Joseph who is part of that new generation...

I was 16 when I first saw Manic Street Preachers opening for Bon Jovi in Liverpool in 2019, and they stole the show.

From the moment they took the stage The Manics reeled off what initially struck me as earworm after earworm, in spite of a crowd that was largely in attendance for the main act, they played with a fervour. I was intrigued.

In the subsequent days I listened to their biggest hits including the generation-defining If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, A Design For Life, and my personal favourite Motorcycle Emptiness.

These are flagship Manics tracks, febrile and deeply political songs that still hold water today, capturing a sense of political disillusionment that is rife among the younger generation of 2023.

What could be a better anthem for the uncertainty posed by cost of living and climate crises than the phrase, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, which when bestowed with those modern contexts becomes eerily prescient.

The opening line of that song, “If future teaches you to be alone/ The present to be afraid and cold”, is a similarly prophetic line that sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the song.

It’s not just a handful of tracks that have that level of depth, they have tackled a myriad of obscure subjects in songs across their 14 studio albums.

La Tristessa Durera questions the seasonal nature of war remembrance, Kevin Carter is an exploration of nihilism by disappeared guitarist Richey Edwards, and Ready For Drowning is about a small Welsh village, flooded to provide a reservoir for Liverpool.

The last of those becomes a story of Welsh defiance “So where are we going/ We are not ready for drowning”, drawing on a sense of patriotism that is littered throughout their songs and I’m sure is still resonant with many young Welsh people living in an evermore fractured world today.

Whilst there are not many bands today that could quite write lyrics like The Manics did, not many could capture the same sound of James Dean Bradfield’s melodic yet razor sharp vocals coupled with their catchy pop guitar tracks.

The best compliment I can pay to The Manics musically is that their music can be enjoyed by casual music fans, a section of which can draw enjoyment their songs without needing to understand their lyrics.

A song such as A Design For Life reached number two in the UK singles chart and getting significant radio play, alluring its listeners with an astounding, memorable chorus.

If you remove the lyrics of that song from the context of the music, they are still a band unafraid to acknowledge their roots, “To wear the scars/ To show from where I came”.

This line is particularly pertinent for a generation that is determined to forge its own identity and represent history in its own imitable style.

No matter what generation or walk of life you are from, their music is enjoyable and relatable. Manic Street Preachers are an all-time great.

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