The Astoria, London
Monday, December 19 1994

T-shirt slogan update: “I am hypocrite whore-stud slut cunt-cock artificial piece of 20th century motherfuckin’ shit”. It may get you arrested.

The closest you’ll get to a Yuletide greeting tonight is, “Have a bad Christmas, boys!” from James Dean Bradfield. This is shortly before the Manics sink into the Nazi holocaust nausea of “The Intense Humming Of Evil”.

Seeing the quartet back on-stage, or more specifically guitarist Richey James, is a relief worth the price of admission alone. Taken ill mid-’94, he’s back to most of his old clockwork-soldier-with-guitar tricks, with those power chords only slightly more audible than before. He never wanted to better Joe Strummer anyway.

“Faster” opens, energy personified. The breathless link into “Revol” is a masterstroke, and “From Despair To Where” follows - testament to the strength of the Manics’ back catalogue.
After that, it’s yet two more singles, “La Tristesse Durera” and “She Is Suffering”. The latter is the closest they’ve come to equalling the ultimate Manics tune, “Motorcycle Emptiness”, aired tonight in all its glory.

Strangely, if anyone looks like they’ve been through the wringer this year, it’s bassist Nicky Wire. There’s none of his usual Sid Vicious washer-woman antics. His one abusive statement comes before “Little Baby Nothing”: “We were going to get some guests to play on this one, but they’re from shit bands, so it’s just us!”.

As an encore, Bradfield performs solo on “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” and the remarkable “This Is Yesterday” before the others return for an unbeatable run through “Roses In The Hospital”, “PCP”, “Motown Junk” and “You Love Us”.

The Manics eat 95 per cent of Rock bands for breakfast. Though Bradfield feels otherwise, a storm through Donington might see that “indie” stigma packing its bags for good...