Mezzo Forte Monday, Pt 1.

Where Did They Go Wrong?

My cynical view on all musical ventures this week points, much like the gleaming eye of Sauron, to the intellectual, and somewhat frequently misunderstood, souls that make up the Manic Street Preachers.

Having mildly forgotten them for a few years, a close contemporary of mine, Mr Thomas J Bench Esq (who has earned the right to this title, as he is attending a wine tasting tomorrow), enthused about me making him a Manics-themed playlist, thinking this would be a much more personal insight to the back catalogue of this rather odd band. Despite the aforementioned Bench insisting James Dean Bradfield “screams” on too many occasions, and deems them, as a band, acceptable (not a compliment from him), this was a good opportunity to re-live the panda-eyed days of when you first discover the truthful, gritty, desolate, (maybe a little gloomy?), and incredibly realistic view the songs of these Welsh poets and musicians take. And you realise, when it gets to listening to the ‘Holy Bible’, for the 14th night running, and you think you begin to understand Richey, and you think the lyrics “speak to you”, that life is, actually, fantastic. Not depressing, fantastic.

And then you get to this age, and you think “… Aw… How infantile.”

HOWEVER. The musical merit is still there, and it attracts a plethora of fans. My least favourite being the 40-year-old males at the gigs, who should be at home with their wife and kids and not pushing me aside to get to the front (especially not when they could sit on you and kill you), not thinking it’s ok to abuse other gig goers (we all want to see Nicky Wire in a dress don’t we…), and especially not in bloody leather jackets. Aside from them looking ridiculous, the amount of sweat produced by every adoring fan gets passed from person to person, thus making leather stick, thus making lots of pain. Idiots. Aside from the pain of getting your lungs crushed and having literally toe-space to stand on. Having said that, they still were lots of fun.

I’m tempted to say their lyrics make the band. Their subject material is out of this world – who would write a song that sampled a quote from the Nuremberg Trials at the start? Can you really reference more ’80s phenomenons than they do in ‘Patrick Bateman’? No, you can’t, because you are neither Nicky Wire or Richey Edwards. I am of the opinion I learnt more through the Manics than through the education system, leading me on the read up about everything they wrote about, and inspiring me far more than school or university ever did or ever could do.  So technically I have an awful lot to thank them for, but similarly if they actually DID something with their music, I would have a hell of a lot more.  I am so ridiculously SICK of the mundane set up of their songs. The dismal realisation that, yes, it’s yet another Manics album that has interesting subject material (and, let’s face it, much more interesting than anything that’s “in” (charts or otherwise) at the moment, as I really couldn’t care less if some “pop diva” met a bloke and now he’s not interested in her anymore… Oh so boring), BUT HAVE THEY EXPERIMENTED MUSICALLY? Have they bollocks. And it’s so frustrating when you know what they can do and what they have done! Just another collection of “verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, chorus, chorus, end”. Really, it’s just not interesting anymore. And no they are not bloody “back on form”, which is a quote I read every single time a new Manics album is out, but then again I wouldn’t wish for them to break up. But I feel I am “done”, whereas new music from them is concerned – I am quite happy with what they’ve already offered to the world. Similarly, I am done with seeing the hits played at gigs. I wish for rarities! So much more exciting than hearing the intro to ‘A Design For Life’, again.

On the plus side, they can also do this:

And this:

And even this!

I feel perhaps that I am disappointed in the somewhat less inspiring song format they have chosen to take, and that they don’t do seem to do anything with their music. Maybe their early albums hinted that they would? Maybe they should have packed it in a long time ago? Maybe I missed out properly on when they were really there, but it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some other exceptional bands in existence (YES REALLY), and methinks the Manics only need to hand over to them now.

Hello Sea Power!


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