The Manic Street Preachers have had only a sprinkling of lower-reaching chart success in Australia, whilst notching up an impressive 33 Top 40 singles in their native Britain.
No matter, tonight, Festival Hall was full of their fellow Welsh countryfolk. And fortunately the Welsh are among the most patriotic people on this planet.
The Manics have, rather endearingly, timed their Australian gigs to coincide with the 2013 Lions Tour, even getting sidelined Welsh rugby hero (and newly-qualified doctor) Jamie Roberts to help out on acoustic guitar during You Love Us.
Playing an energetic set of around 90 minutes, James Dean Bradfield (vocals, guitar), the impressively tall Nicky Wire (bass) and Sean Moore (drums) performed some of their best-loved songs.
The anthemic A Design For Life (a miserable number 50 placement on the chart here, a more deserving number 2 in the UK) was particularly moving.
Other highlights included their terrific cover of the Theme From M.A.S.H. (Suicide Is Painless), “The first hit we ever had. Unfortunately we didn’t write it…”, a particularly rousing rendition of Tsunami, and an acoustic cover of Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, complete with enthusiastic crowd participation, proved that musicianship is far more important than an extravagant lightshow any day of the week.
Wire dedicated the nearly 20-year-old single, Revol to “The faithful, the hardcore. Richey (Edwards, missing – presumed dead former guitarist) would’ve loved Melbourne. Nick Cave. And The Go-Betweens, The Triffids…I think they came from Melbourne…” (Err, no Nicky, they did not).
Before launching into Send Away The Tigers (changed, for tonight’s performance, to Send Away The Lions, the audience was asked for a quick demographic check. “How many are from England? How many from Ireland? From Scotland? How many people from Wales?”, to an unsurprising roar from the excited assemblage in response to the latter.
After explaining that they never ever do encores, and a “You’ve been fucking beautiful, thank you very much” from Bradfield, the Manics left the stage.
Setlist for the Melbourne Festival Hall show:
Motorcycle Emptiness (from Generation Terrorists, 1992)
Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (from Send Away The Tigers, 2007)
You Stole The Sun From My Heart (from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
Ocean Spray (from Know Your Enemy, 2001)
Australia (from Everything Must Go, 1996)
Theme From M.A.S.H. (Suicide Is Painless) (charity single, 1992)
It’s Not War Just The End Of Us (Postcards From A Young Man, 2010)
La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) (from Gold Against The Soul, 1993)
Revol (The Holy Bible, 1994)
Everything Must Go (from Everything Must Go, 1996)
Send Away The Tigers (Lions) (from Send Away The Tigers, 2007)
A Design For Life (from Everything Must Go, 1996)
The Everlasting (acoustic) (from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (acoustic) (cover)
You Love Us (from Generation Terrorists, 1992)
Little Baby Nothing (from Generation Terrorists, 1992)
Tsunami (from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
Motown Junk (with intro to Into The Valley) (single, 1991)
If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next (from This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)
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