Live review: Manic Street Preachers at the Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle

James Dean Bradfield in action.
James Dean Bradfield in action.

Resistance is futile, according to Star Trek baddies the Borg, but they were wrong as the crew of the starship Enterprise invariably got the better of them.

Resistance is indeed futile, however, when confronted with an irresistible combination of Manic Street Preachers classics and new songs blessed with the good fortune to sound like the best of their old ones, as the band proved at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Monday night.

Nicky Wire on stage.

Nicky Wire on stage.

Their new album, their 13th, is easily their best since 2010’s Postcards From a Young Man, so it was no bad thing at all that the Welsh alternative rock act included half the 12 songs making up its standard edition in a 23-song set lasting just short of an hour and three-quarters.

Titled Resistance is Futile, it was a No 2 hit following its release earlier this month and was thoroughly deserving of going one better, harking back as it does to the glory days of 1996’s Everything Must Go and 2007’s Send Away the Tigers, both of them also No 2s equally worthy of having been chart-toppers.

First up of the new songs was set opener International Blue and though it wasn’t quite greeted as an old favourite, it had every right to be, as did the five that followed – Distant Colours, Dylan and Caitlin, Hold Me Like a Heaven, People Give In and Liverpool Revisited.

Interspersed with those latest additions to a discography stretching back to 1988, two years after their formation in Caerphilly, were classics of the calibre of Tsunami, Motorcycle Emptiness, You Stole the Sun From My Heart, Let Robeson Sing and, rounding proceedings off, A Design for Life, all rapturously received by a half-full arena.

A couple of rarities were thrown into the mix too for good measure – 4 Ever Delayed, a 2003 B-side and compilation album track not played live since 2007 and long overdue another airing, and Horses Under Starlight, a 1996 B-side possibly better left languishing in obscurity.

Frontman James Dean Bradfield was in fine voice throughout as ever, as was possibly best demonstrated by two acoustic numbers midway through the show, Faster and Kevin Carter, though his electric guitar-playing was more than up to par too, and he was given solid backing throughout by the band’s rhythm section of bassist Nicky Wire, jumping around in his usual energetic manner, and drummer Sean Moore.

It’s only been eight months since the band last played in Newcastle, an open-air show in Times Square, their first date in the city since 2010, and it’s to be hoped that it’s only a matter of months, rather than another seven years, until they next return on the evidence of this belter of a show.

Monday’s show was the first night of their current tour, and it continues in Glasgow tonight, then heads on to Birmingham, Manchester, Llandudno, Leeds, London and Cardiff.

For details, go to www.manicstreetpreachers.com