Manic Street Preachers The Olympia, Dublin

Speaking to the Irish Examiner several years ago, Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire confessed that, over time, it became ever harder to maintain one’s enthusiasm for music.

“You need to find different ‘angles’ for being in a band,” he said. “You need to find ways to keep it interesting.” In their quest to do this they have cycled through many incarnations in their 25 year career – several of which were on show at this sell-out concert.

They delight the attendance by opening with ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, their first hit single from 1992. From their most successful album, 1998’s This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, they play five tracks, including the lilting ‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’ and ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’, surely the only worldwide number one inspired by the Spanish Civil War.

Ostensibly there’s a new LP to promote, though the three piece (augmented by an auxiliary live guitarist) take their time getting there. Melancholic and stripped down, Rewind The Film has been advertised as the Manics’ ‘midlife’ record, though if the band truly are looking back on their youth you wish they’d gone further than the theme from Neighbours, which appears to the inspiration for recent single ‘Show Me The Wonder’.

Rather better is ‘4 Lonely Roads’, featuring vocals from Welsh singer Cate Le Bon, while the group demonstrate they can go acoustic without plumbing the depths of MTV Unplugged faux-sincerity on bare-boned versions of ‘This Sullen Welsh Heart’ and ‘The Everlasting’.

Lyricist and agitator-in-chief (he is responsible for most of their media baiting comments down the decades) bassist Wire dedicates ‘Revol’ to the late Seamus Heaney. He recalls how, on their first visit to Dublin, he and the group’s now missing (presumed deceased) second guitarist Richey James got into a scrape that necessitated a visit to hospital. The Manics are proof it is possible for even the most zealously unconventional rockers to grow older with grace and dignity.

Star rating: 4/5

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