Manic Street Preachers remind Electric Picnic crowd of their numerous hits

By Ed Power

Manic Street Preachers - Electric Picnic, Main Stage

Manic Street Preachers faced the thankless task of rousing a main stage crowd surely flagging after three days of non-stop rock pyrotechnics.

The solution struck upon by Britpop's perennial awkward outsiders was to deliver a "best of" set that served both as torrid distraction from the weariness seeping into the bones of festival-goers and a reminder of just how many hits the group has notched up across the past quarter century.

For their troubles they were rewarded with a warm, highly vocal reception, the audience lending its voice to such bittersweet anthems as Motorcycle Emptiness and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (the only UK number hit single inspired by the Spanish Civil War).

As ever, of course, the Welsh trio remained somewhat of a Marmite affair – many consider singer James Dean Bradfield's impassioned yelp deeply inspiring yet there will always be those who feel he sounds like a karaoke Freddie Mercury.

What can't be questioned is the belief the Manics pour into their material.

Scowling behind his mirror-shades, beanpole bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire mouthed aloud the words as Bradfield grunted and enunciated and when their songs built towards the inevitable swooning chorus the emotion on stage felt practically combustible.

At the end of a long, exhilarating weekend it was exactly what was required - regardless of any quibbles the individual listener might have had about the durability of the band's craw-beating repertoire.

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