Manic Street Preachers, Razorlight

Benjamin Short 17/12/2004

Despite not being the most obvious choice of support act, Razorlight do themselves justice. They have all the attitude of The Libertines, and far better songs. Their lengthy set encompasses all their hits and more, and one new song. 'Keep the Right profile' includes the lyric "Don't stay up all night" which is exactly the kind of irony you would expect from a postmodern iconoclast like Johnny Borrell.

Manic Street Preachers take to the stage in front of a massively undersold arena. The harsh critical reaction to their latest album seems to have deterred all but the most hardcore fans, and several thousand middle-aged dads.

The Manics' set draws upon many of the less obvious corners of their back catalogue, avoiding Lifeblood's dirges wherever possible. It is clear that their strength lies in their history. For every 'Australia', there is a 'Faster'. For every 'You Stole the Sun...', there is a 'You Love Us'.

James Dean Bradfield's voice is as strong as ever, which is surprising given that his illness put tonight's performance in doubt. (Rather sweetly, one fan throws a packet of lockets on stage during the show!) His solo acoustic versions of 'Archives of Pain' and 'Small Black Flowers...'are an experience that few present will forget.

When Nicky reappears resplendent in a red frilly skirt and knee-high stockings, the sexual tension (or perhaps just embarrassment...) is tangible.
Unfortunately, it is perhaps time that Manic street Preachers adopt the infamous Cobain maxim, and allow themselves to burn out before their illustrious career fades to smaller venues, fewer fans and less acclaim. But on this evidence, they may well survive just a little longer.