This is the day that the spitting hellcat of hatred was put amongst the billycooing pigeons of love. The Manic Street Preachers scream "I LAUGHED WHEN LENNON GOT SHOT!" Into the agog gobs of the shaggybaggies, who go "Uh... YEAH!", wave tambourines and shake their hippy arses faster than they've ever shook them before. Some of them anyway. Wearing stencilled hate-rage that read 'GENERATION TERRORISTS' and 'KILL YOURSELF', MSP are the total antitheses of E ba'gum floppywoppiness. "I'd be scared to come down the front If I was you, as well!" they roar at the glazed hordes of basin-cut lovermuppets. When these Welsh pop art-rotties run on stage and start jumping up and down, the caterwauling, long-haired neddie sat at the front of the stage reacts as If 50ccs of meta-amphetamine has been Injected straight up his anus. He leaps on stage, nearly tripping over his flares and boogies as if his shoulder length hair is on fire. It is a bizarre sight. We are witnessing the death of the retro-smear that has hung around The Preachers' neck like a rotting albatross. Their rooting in the street-fighting guitar angst is no more ridiculous than Flowered Up and their Ilk's Woodstockisms - it is merely infinitely less fashionable. Most of the sizeable minority audience who are getting off on the energy and the anger have never heard or seen anything so aggressive, so righteous and they are stunned.

The bulk of the bagchildren are here to see Flowered Up - the North London nouveau-groovies who trespass on what some would see as exclusively Manc territory. They are not disappointed - but they should be. There is a positive, um, vibe in the air, everybody is HappEEEE despite the fact that a combination of a Saddam-style chemical soup and an ongoing stage Invasion renders the band completely Invisible. Despite the fact that bopping feet and flailing arms continually stomp and flail leads from sockets causing constant equipment malfunctions which, when added to the guitar de-tuning organic beatwave, means that as soon as a groove is established it is broken. This is coitus interruptus on a massive scale. Flowered Up are not - with the exception of a few gems - a toooon band. More than any of the Mancs they rely on establishing a sweating, throbbing groooooooove. Tonight is something of a disaster, the roof is too low, the crowd too desperately enthusiastic for them to shine. Nobody is surprised at their failure to deliver an encore. Flowered Up have been smothered by love. A hamster-faced youth clutching a Pils in each red-knuckled fist staggers up to me at the end: "What a F-ing great support band !" The Intensity and spiteful malevolence of The Preachers has taken root amongst children brought up on ass-shaking hedonism and heads- down no-nonsense mindless niceness. The Dogs Of War have Injected their Infected semen into drooling orifices of the Love Kids; that's the trouble with E - It leaves your mind so open that anything can crawl Inside. All power to Flowered Up for choosing such a devastatingly Incongruous support band. It's going to be an education ...

Steven Wells