With a new album and classics galore, the Manics play Arthur's Day
If you missed the Manic Street Preachers in Dublin last weekend, you won't have long to wait for a chance to see them again - they return on Thursday for Arthur's Day. Don't expect Mike Scott of the Waterboys or others such as The Stunning's Steve Wall to be enjoying the festivities, though.
Scott has penned a song called The Glassed And Buried Song criticising Arthur's Day for encouraging people to drink until they've blacked out on the black stuff. Wall is of the opinion that not enough Irish artists are given prominent billing.
Both arguments have merit but Scott has performed at plenty of festivals with a large drinks company underwriting a lot of the cost while the crowd drunkenly sang along to Fisherman's Blues or The Whole Of The Moon and Wall has played many events where the headline acts are not Irish.
Nicky Wire, the giant bass player and primary songwriter with the Manic Street Preachers, while not commenting directly on criticism of the day, is looking forward to playing whatever venues are lined up for the powerhouse trio.
'I am not quite sure where we are playing; it could be Galway, Cork it could be Dublin, nobody has actually told us,' he says. 'It could be anybody's local if they are lucky… It would be nice to play Galway in some drunken house.' If he could be bothered, Mike Scott might say, 'I told you so.' The Manics will play plenty of their classics, Nicky assures me, but they also have a very fine new album to plug as well. Rewind The Film is the band in reflective mood and songs such as the title track as well as Thirty Year War and Show Me The Wonder are great indicators of where they feel they are in their lives.
It's also one of their most acoustic-based albums. This might be a risky strategy as Nicky concedes: 'Our trademark, well a big part of what we do, is the sound of James's [Dean Bradfield] guitar and big anthemic choruses and string sections.
'This album is quite introverted and melancholic. On [2010's] Postcards From A Young Man we reached a peak of that sound. We love that album; it is such a great little period for the band. We just felt like trying to re-invent ourselves in a more subtle way. Maybe it is not so commercial in that sense but coming to our 11th album we just wanted to cut ourselves a little slack.
'But we've also virtually finished a follow-up album which will be much more jagged, raw and postpunk.
I'm trying to think which would be the Jekyll and which would be the Hyde. That should be out next March or April.' In an unexpected departure that works beautifully the title track, Rewind The Film, features a starring role for Richard Hawley.
'James called him up and he came down in a couple of days and nailed it in three takes. It's a musical marriage made in heaven and I could definitely see us doing more together.' The single, Show Me The Wonder, is like a sugar high but it has a potent point to make too. 'I'm just sick of politicians, religious leaders and scientists trying to explain everything,' says Nicky.
'Maybe some things are just a beautiful unexplainable alchemy. You can't explain how the four of us went to the same school in South Wales with Joe Calzaghe and all of a sudden he becomes this great boxer and we do all we did. I don't think there is an explanation for that.' If Arthur's Day lets us see one of the finest bands of the past 30 years up close and personal then many will put their scepticism aside and take that opportunity.