After a four year absence, Manic Street Preachers returned to Belfast for a gig at Ulster Hall, the venue where they played their last Belfast gig in 2009.
They jumped straight into “Motorcycle Emptiness”, with James Dean Bradfield too busy dancing, he forgot to sing the first verse. It didn’t matter, the crowd did that for him.
Both Bradfield and Nicky Wire were dancing while playing their instruments. If there was a competition, i’d say Nicky Wire was the best dancer in the Manics, with James bordering on Dad Dancing at times. Sean Moore didn’t dance, as he was stuck behind his drum kit.
You got the feeling, if the gig lasted for ten more minutes, Sean Moore probably would have started dancing while playing drums.
Despite his dodgy dancing, Bradfield was at home on stage, revelling in the role of frontman.
Inbetween songs, there was small talk, but not the usual concert stuff, as Nicky Wire, wearing sunglasses indoors and with black stars on his face a la Marc Bolan, spoke about their early Belfast gigs in The Limelight, while Bradfield dedicated a song to local(ish) singer Andy Cairns.
Most bizarre anecdote was Nicky recalling their first visit to Belfast, where they were given a guided tour of the city by Johnny Hero, which resulted in Sean going missing, Nicky getting into an arguement, and others being drunk.
For “Your Love Alone Is Not Enough”, James just sang Nina Persson’s parts, which was strange, as they performed “$ Lonely Roads” from their current album with support act Cate Le Bon (no relation to Simon)
You would have thought she could have done Nina Persson’s bit in “Your Love Alone ……”
In the middle, James did a solo acoustic set. He made a mess of “This Sullen Welsh Heart” so made up for it with a version of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” by Andy Williams, before performing “The Everlasting”
Due to the 11pm curfew, there was no encore. There didn’t need to be.
The Manics spoke (and later tweeted) about how they loved Belfast, and Belfast, loved them back.