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Manic Street Preachers - The Roundhouse 17/12/2014

Life has been so busy and stressful recently that it had been difficult to start getting excited about this gig - but once we were on our way there with The Holy Bible playing in the car that definitely changed! I worked out that I had seen 9 of the 13 songs before, but to see them all played in a row was hopefully going to be something memorable.

There were no car issues this time and we got to Camden in plenty of time, stopping to have a quick Chinese in one of the markets. Then we headed to The Roundhouse, and was surprised by just how civilised it all is! There was posh soap in the toilets, and instead of just the usual bars they had several craft beer stalls as well.

We arrived about an hour before the band were due on stage to find the crowd only four deep at the barrier, so we headed there (via the merchandise stall and bars) to stake out a place. There was no warm-up, just a DJ set by Erol Alkan which didn't really do much for me. Still, it meant we didn't have to wait ages for the soundcheck as presumably that had all been done beforehand.

The first half of the gig was easily my best live music experience. Just the three of them on stage (although I could see Nick Naysmyth in the wings, I'm not sure if he was playing or not) roaring through the album, although with a brief stop whilst Sean's snare drum was replaced! I expected the crowd to be hardcore Manics fans, but I never expected to be part of a sing-along to Mausoleum whilst JDB let the crowd sing!

There aren't really words to describe seeing my favourite album played all the way through in that environment, 'epic' and 'legendary' are overused words but they applied for this set! By the end of PCP I think everyone was emotionally drained and needed the 10 minutes rest!

After that set, the second half was a little anti-climactic - the response to Motorcycle Emptiness was muted compared to what it would be like at a normal gig. It was great to see Donkeys, and Nicky promised Comfort Comes at their Cardiff gig next year (I don't think I can justify going that far though!) JDB even played a little of Patrick Bateman at the request of someone in the front row, now that would certainly have been a 'curio'!

A few more 'casuals' had made their way to the front by now, and we had the misfortune to be stood next to someone similar in appearance and personal hygiene to Baldrick in the third series of Blackadder, but the crowd was starting to come back to life. Georgia Ruth duetted on Divine Youth, and Andy Cairns from Therapy? came on stage for You Love Us, during which the front became a big mosh pit. A Design for Life was accompanied by gold confetti (after trying to grab some, I began to appreciate how difficult the last round of The Crystal Maze must have been!)

My ears are still ringing this morning, and I've been very tired since, but it was definitely worth it. Best. Gig. Ever.


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