In gaining the world, the Manic Street Preachers have lost everything except weight. So go the sneers, anyway. There are still plenty of dissidents within the ever-swelling mobs of Manics fans who remember all those beautiful early promises to destroy rock and roll and themselves along with it. The whip -smart and whippet-skinny young Welshmen who spat fizzing intellectual invective through their painted lips hated "all other bands" and vowed they would "piss all over" any Brit Awards they ever got, seemed to vanish with Richey Edwards, their guitarist who famously went AWOL in 1995 on the eve of real success. Yet the Manics have kept on going, like a squad of kamikaze pilots who've realised they're far more interested in flying than dying. And here they are, their many Brit Awards accepted without hesitation or urination, headlining T in the Park and almost every other festival in Europe this summer.
"If you've got something to say," shrugged bassist Nicky Wire recently, "you might as well say it to as many people as possible."
Those who see the band as softer, slower, duller, fuller and the recent album This is My Truth Now Show Me Yours as a bunch of songs that couldn't even get up off the couch, never mind spew burning petrol at monarchs and multi -nationals, are forever failing to get it. All we ever really wanted to be is the most important rock band of the decade," says Wire. "And I think that's the one thing we probably have achieved."
The Manics are never going to re-open the coal mines or empower the people or use gold for the building of public lavatories as suggested by the Leninist slogans on their record sleeves. But they are going to play to an army of devotees who wear T-shirts that scream Anxiety is Freedom and sing along to lyrics about anti-fascism in Spain, working-class inertia and the drowning of Welsh villages to supply Liverpool with hydro-electric power.
The live experience of Manic Street Preaching is like being part of a righteous riot and never more so than in Scotland. Singer James Dean Bradfield has cited their 1997 gig at the Glasgow Barrowlands as "the moment I realised what the band could do".
Their latest trip north of the Border will also have less pleasant resonances for the band. The inaugural T in the Park festival in 1993 marked the first time the band played as a three piece after Richey checked into a clinic following a bout of drinking and self-harm.
These three men make the hugest of sounds, and all doubts must finally have been crushed under the crowd at the Glastonbury festival last weekend where tracks like Motorcycle Emptiness and new single Tsunami took off like jets, and the monumental A Design For Life wasn't followed by an encore because there's nothing made this decade that says or means more.
Like they said in the beginning: "Every generation has it's defining moment. We are yours so don't let it pass you by."
The Manic Street Preachers headline T in the Park on July 11.