Manic Street Preachers & Low Hummer at Portsmouth Guildhall, 8th October 2021
Manic Street Preachers have been around for a while. 35 years in fact, and their career has seen them hit huge highs and crushing lows along the way. Most recently, The Manics have been celebrating their second UK number one after new album The Ultra Vivid Lament became only their second to hit the top spot of the charts following the success of This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours back in 1998. Tonight’s show in support of their latest triumph is a 20-song journey covering both new and old material that blends seamlessly together, and you can sense that the band are loving being back on the road.
Support this evening comes courtesy of Low Hummer, a six piece from Hull. Right from the off, each member of the band is locked into a tight groove that propels their 9-song set along nicely. Take Arms starts with a driving synth drone before the drums and bass come in to add a nice krautrock feel to proceedings. Guitarist/singer Dan Mawer then sings, ‘For all the Northerners pretending to be Southern, take arms, take arms.’ You’ve got to admire that for an opening line down here on the south coast. The guitars come crashing in shortly before the chorus, but not before Dan is joined on vocals by guitarist/singer Aimee Duncan. The interplay between the pair adds heaps of variety, whilst the rest of the band take charge and enjoy the ride. Their debut album Modern Tricks for Living is out now, and if you like the idea of your favourite garage rock, post punk and the more weirder indie bands around covering Bis, then you might just find what you’re looking for in Low Hummer.
Opening with Motorcycle Emptiness, The Manics mean business and they are as tight and powerful as you would expect from a band who have been at it this long. Orwellian then follows and it is a reminder that The Manics still have a knack for writing songs that have something to say about the state of the world. Frontman James Dean Bradfield is more than happy in front of the microphone and around it as he dances about the stage, all whilst bassist Nicky Wire, drummer Sean Moore and touring members Wayne Murray and Nick Nasmyth pummel the audience with precise rhythms and infectious melodies.
At the halfway point, we’re treated to a solo acoustic version of La Tristesse Durera (Scream to a Sigh) from 1993’s Gold Against The Soul. The rest of the band then reappear to join James for a cover of Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child o’ Mine. Not just the opening bars, but the whole thing. All six minutes of it, note for note. The Manics are clearly enjoying themselves at this point and to be fair, so is everyone else in attendance. After a couple of slower tunes, the band are back firing on all cylinders with Slash ‘n’ Burn before they finish off tonight’s show with fan favourites Ocean Spray, You Love Us and A Design for Life.
Tonight’s performance was solid, and the tributes and moments dedicated to Richie were genuinely touching (Still Snowing in Sapporo). The Manics will always be the undisputed Welsh kings of crowd-pleasing anthemic rock, and tonight was a reminder of how truly great they are.
13th October 2021