Live review: Resistance is futile as Manic Street Preachers continue to deliver classic stadium anthems

The Manic Street Preachers.
The Manic Street Preachers.

The new Manic Street Preachers' 13th and recently released studio album opens with a track entitled People Give In.

"People break down, people move on, people can cope, people stay strong," sings frontman James Dean Bradfield against a backdrop of the Manics' trademark soaring guitars.

And pretty much a mantra - a design for life, if you will, that sums up the band that have now been with us for the best part of three decades.

And the Manics have certainly stayed strong.

So strong in fact that this latest album is, in my humble opinion, one of their very best.

And its a delight to see so many tracks from it being aired on an outing at Leeds' First Direct Arena.

Opening with International Blue, a song that surely destined to stay in the Welsh rockers' repertoire for many a year, this is a show that mixes the old, the new, the hits and the obscurities from a career that has brought us so many memorable songs.

Motorcycle Emptiness sparks the first mass singalong of the night and from then on, its a trawl through some of the Manics' mightiest moments.

The lads might have lost some of their political edge and conceded to the rock 'n' roll fripperies of a live stage show (streamers and glitter cannons anyone?) but they've still got an ear for truly incredible songs and stadium anthems aplenty.

Never mind that Bradfield takes a tumble over a monitor during Everything Must Go ("that f***ing hurt a bit," he says afterwards), he and nattily-attired as ever guitarist Nicky Wire still strut around with verve and swagger, even if they are slightly more mellow as they approach fifty, as drummer Sean Moore powers things along from the back of the stage.

There's a few for the Manics diehards (the rarely heard 4 Ever Delayed and obscure B-side Horses Under Starlight) in addition to the truly foot-stomping, air-punching hits such as You Stole The Sun From My Heart and The Masses Against The Classes.

Famously, the Manics don't do encores, but if there's a first half to the set, the sweeping grandeur of If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next closes it, complete with blue and silver streamers.

Then we're treated to the Bradfield acoustic set - always one of the highlights of any Manics show (and with this being my 18th, I've seen a few).

This time round, James gives us a spine-tingling stripped back version of Faster which results in a game of performer v audience singalong tennis, followed by a snippet of Can't Take My Eyes Off You, devoted touchingly, and to rapturous applause, to tragic Wales and Leeds footballer Gary Speed.

Of course, the Manics are all about noise and guitars, so it doesn't stay quiet too long, You Love Us and Slash 'n' Burn helping to turn up the heat once again.

Naturally, as always, A Design For Life brings down the curtain and the boys exit, another show done and having delivered another performance of spiky guitar pop that has the ability to have an audience singing along as one.

There's been some talk that Resistance Is Futile might well be the band's last album.

One would sincerely hope not, because this is a band as musically tight, meaningful and relevant to the masses (and the classes too) as they ever were.

The Manics offer a design for life that can't be equalled. Let's hope those Blackwood lads don't give in just yet.