Yes We're Still So In Love With You
In a surreal sea of Welsh flags and tshirts with Kirkegaard quotes, it's pretty hard not to feel a frisson of excitement, or at least stand back and realise that the band you're about to see are pretty exciting. While some accuse the Manics of being old and producing coffee table music (even they will agree that 'Lifeblood' isn't their most popular album), even the most scathing of critics would have to think again after witnessing the invigorated and triumphant performance that they put on tonight.
Opening with 'Motorcycle Emptiness', the band are on a roll and unleash hit after hit - infact the majority of the setlist for tonight is composed of singles from their rich back catalogue, from 'Slash N'Burn', which they declare they've never played in Edinburgh before, to 'A Design For Life'. Despite touring with their new album, 'Send Away The Tigers', complete with a stuffed tiger on stage, the band seem nostalgic, reminiscing about the days when the four of them (including guitarist Richey Edwards) would end up staying in a dorm bed together whilst touring. Tracks from the new album go down well, with the fans ready to sing along to the vitriolic, 'I Am Just A Patsy', title track, 'Send Away The Tigers' and other choice additions.
Although the majority of the set comprises of golden oldies - just what the crowd wanted, the band never cease to play it with passion and vigour as if it's been freshly penned. The only incongruity on this tour is the addition of a new backing guitarist who adds some spark to the new numbers, but it feels peculiar to see the trio onstage with another guitarist who isn't the unforgotten Richey Edwards. Presumably this young musician can at least play his instrument and is relegated to the edge of the stage, but there's still a slight sense of unease as the band introduce him to the fiercely loyal fans, who to be honest, probably still haven't stopped waiting for Richey to reappear.
We rock our way through 'Yes', 'You Love Us' and other classic moments of risqué rock before gaining respite from a short acoustic solo section from James Dean Bradfield who serenades us with, 'Suicide Is Painless (Theme From M*A*S*H)' recalling its anti-Thatcherite roots, and a tender version of 'The Everlasting'. So yet again, despite the age of some of the material, the band are always seeking to give it a new lease of life and twist it into something fresh that packs as much of a punch now as it did then, 'Motown Junk' for example is spruced up with an intro of The Cult's 'She Sells Sanctuary'.
The band don't grace us with an encore, however having played for a good hour and a half, they certainly don't need to and to silence any critics who may blame this on their age. Nicky Wire takes centre stage skipping frantically for a good few minutes as the rest of the band process out, as if to say that yes, they still have "it", whatever it is. I'd suggest it's pure charisma, a solid fan base and a back catalogue full of epic tracks that are rooted in a fruitful, if chaotic, history.