The area around the Motorpoint Arena seems surprisingly quiet for the Manic Street Preachers’ only Wales show of their ‘Futurology’ tour. It’s slightly funny to think that the largest throng in the city centre is currently outside the Cineworld to meet Russell Crowe when one of the country’s finest ever musical exports is gearing up for a show a few hundred yards away.
Inside the venue the crowd fills up slowly with mainly veteran fans, along with a few bewildered young children in tow. Support act Wolf Alice are a fine choice, their blend of melodic bass lines and chiming guitars not sounding at all out of place in the cavernous arena. The band remark that the largest Cardiff show they’d played before tonight was Clwb Ifor Bach, but you’d not know it from the self assured performance they deliver.
The Manics take to the stage to a striking video graphic bearing the quote “Future is our only objective” and tear straight into cult favourite ‘Faster’ from the band’s legendary ‘Holy Bible’ album. A slew of hit singles follow, amongst them a beautiful rendition of ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, singer James Dean Bradfield often stepping back from the microphone to let the crowd roar back the chorus.
New song ‘Europa Geht Durch Mich’ is initially slightly jarring with its industrial beat and German second verse. Title track ‘Futurology’ fares better, benefitting from a great vocal from bassist/lyricist Nicky Wire. Tracks from last year’s ‘Rewind the Film’ sound and look fantastic, with the video screen playing footage from the music videos depicting life in a Welsh town from the 70s through to present. The emotional tension created by the title track is palpable, with Wire transfixed by the video backdrop as a wistful ode to old age envelopes the arena.
A rousing finale begins with ’30-Year War’, a venomous and brilliant attack on the “endless parade of old Etonian scum”, screeching through a triumphant ‘Motown Junk’, and ends with a rousing ‘Design for Life’, which melds the band’s lyrical eloquence and knack for a lung-busting chorus. Tonight’s crowd are sent home satisfied, yet eagerly awaiting the bands next move.