The Manics’ triumphant return in 2007 saw me a very different fan to the one I’d been before.
The unseasonably wet and windy May of 2007 continued. My unusually busy gigging week at the end of the month had begun with the Pet Shop Boys at Hammersmith Apollo, and now it was time to see the Manic Street Preachers. This tour was promoting their latest album “Send Away The Tigers”, but despite the fact that I enjoyed the album a lot, something had changed in my Manics fan life. The band played three consecutive nights in London in May 2007, but I only went to one of the shows. Even a couple of years previously, this would have been unthinkable. I was clearly not the fan I had once been.
My diary of the time bears witness to this, being much more preoccupied with my thoughts on the latest series of Doctor Who than musings about the Manics or indeed any other band. But I did, at least, manage a paragraph about this gig, which was more than I’d managed for the last few Manics gigs I’d been to in 2004 and 2005.
‘Then it was the Manics. It was good. I mean, it was great, of course, they did ‘I Am Just A Patsy’ and ‘Die In The Summertime’ and ‘Sleepflower’ and all the usual ones. Maybe it was just because I had the beginnings of a cold that I held back, only throwing my arms into the air at the finishing ‘A Design For Life’. But then there’s the way that, as the rabid throng pointed triumphantly to ‘You Love Us’, I found myself thinking ‘I used to be one of them’.‘
I was in the midst of a stressful time, mostly due to work concerns, and the fact that I was unable to be roused from my doldrums even by a gig from the Manics was truly new and strange. This was the first time I felt that my Manics fandom was truly on the wane, and as far as I knew, my love for the band might be disappearing forever.
‘Going to a Manics gig used to make everything all right, to make nothing else matter, and now it doesn’t. I’m not even sure if they are My Band anymore, and I don’t like it.’
This has to be the first Manics gig I ever went to where I left feeling underwhelmed, and it was the beginning of an era in which my love for the band would wax and wane erratically for many years. Looking back, it saddens me that I wasn’t able to fully enjoy this Manics era in 2007. Considering that they had just released an album that I loved (and still do), and were coming back renewed following their hiatus for solo albums with their biggest hit since the turn of the millennium, it should have been a golden time to be a Manics fan. I know that for many, it was, and I wish I could fill this blog with memories of the excitement of this era.
However, the good news is that by the time I made it to my next Manics gig, a whole lot would have changed – both in my life and my attitude to the band. And one more thing is significant about this gig – it was the very last one I attended at the legendary Astoria before it was demolished in 2009. The Astoria was one of my absolutely favourite venues of them all – only topped by the Brixton Academy – and while I’d been to amazing gigs there by some of my all time favourite bands like Mansun and Suede, this was the first and only Astoria gig I attended by the Manics. And so, even if it’s not the Manics gig I remember most fondly, I’m still glad that I managed to see them in that fantastic venue at least once before it was gone forever.