Manic Street Preachers first came into my ears about 20 years ago, in 1992 when on a chance radio listen, I was enthused by their hit single “Suicide Is Painless” (Theme From M.A.S.H.). At the time I didn’t realise it was a cover version, nor knew anything about this band. As the 90s progressed I spent manys a teenage year being typically British. This meant buying the NME, listening to BBC Radio 1 and Radio 5, watching football and listening to British music. I would say there were 3 main bands that I listened to at the time and they would have been Oasis (English), Manic Street Preachers (Welsh) and Ash (Northern Irish). I still love all 3, and for different reasons. Oasis gave me that attitude and belief. They gave us happy songs for bad days (“some might say that sunshine follows thunder”). Ash gave me local heroes – hailing from Northern Ireland’s Downpatrick, seeing them on TFI Friday and Top of The Pops was just amazing. And beneath it all lay the complexity of Manic Street Preachers. A band with worldly knowledge, political opinion, pure rock n roll and indecipherable lyrics. I was intrigued more by the Manics than the other two, just because they were a little more off the beaten track. You can’t imagine Oasis writing a song called “Die In The Summertime”.
Time passed on from the 90s rock’n’roll and I myself became more worldy managing to visit every continent by the age of 30 and travelling to 64 countries in the process. Away went my Walkman and portable CD player and out came my iPod. With Manic Street Preachers holding some great travel memories and journeys for me. I chimed “Antarctic” on my iPod just before my trip to the cold continent in 2010 and on a New Zealand bus, in 2007 “Send Away The Tigers” sent me to a dreamy sleep before I had even stepped foot in China or Taiwan. I will never tire of listening to Manic Street Preachers. But alas I had missed out on seeing them live for almost a decade, through my own eagerness to explore. So last week, on Friday 18th May 2012 at Studio Coast Arena at Shin Kiba in Tokyo, Japan I saw the band live again. Amazing really.
I have borrowed and used a few photos from the Manic Street Preachers forum “Forever Delayed” and some other fans for this report, including the one above which was a copy of the setlist for the gig the night before the one we were at. That was Thursday 17th May 2012. Manic Street Preachers played TWO Asian dates, both at the same venue in the Japanese capital city. Of course I desperately wanted to go to both gigs, but I live in Hong Kong and work Monday – Saturday at the moment, so taking 2 days off for this trip was already a lot. I also wasn’t sure how to get tickets for the gig, as I had never been to Japan. Have no fear, as I have a few mates in Japan, including 2 Japanese guys I met travelling and my former workmate Kenjo. I messaged Suzuki and he was able to sort out two tickets no problem for myself and Neil Armstrong (not the same guy who once stepped on the moon, but another Northern Irish man living in Hong Kong with a taste for Guinness, randomness , music and football). So – gig tickets were sorted – time off work was sorted and the flights were booked. This is a report on the gig only – my travel stories on Tokyo and Japan will follow at some point…
The setlist for the Friday night gig we were at – very different from the gig I had been at in 2005.
The book I was reading in the month leading up to the gig. This was released in 2010 and is an EXCELLENT read. The author has covered their entire career also focusing on the mystery that still surrounds the mysterious disappearance of genius lyricist Richey James Edwards.
Compiled a wee Manics and Japan photo – just to get me in the mood in the week leading up to the gig.
Neil and I arrived in Japan and checked into our hostel at ShinaGAWA. We then went to meet Suzuki late afternoon at Shibuya. Suzuki had got us the tickets and we wanted to take him for a beer and something to eat. Neil wasn’t keen to get to the venue early and see the support act, but I knew that Gruff Rhys the support act would start early, around 7pm, with the Manics on stage shortly after. I somehow knew we would miss the start of the gig, and from a selfish perspective if I’d been on my own, I’d probably have headed there very early! And just have a drink near the venue.
Having a beer with Suzuki at Shibuya in a bar called Scramble. Tokyo was hot. Suzuki was not going to the gig with us, but passed us the tickets and we went for another drink in a bar called Abbots Choice at Roppongi. I was wearing my blue Manic Street Preachers T-Shirt which I had originally bought in May 1999 at a gig in The King’s Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland. If live was to go full circle yet again then I was with Neil, a Larne man and the support band for the night was to be Gruff Rhys, formerly of the Super Furry Animals who supported the Manics in Belfast back in 1999.
In there we had a Guinness, a bite to eat and a shot of Jagermeister. When we left there the gig had already started, so I wanted to rush!
Our tickets for the gig. It was amazing to be going to see them again. And the first time I would see them outside the British Isles (done Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and England gigs before).
When we got to the train station at Shin Kiba, the area was empty. Nothing like the buzz of the Ulster Hall back in September 1998 when we queued for at least and hour just to get in and then heard the news that night that “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” had gone into the UK chart at number 2.
My view from the edge of the arena at the start of the set. This was taken during Everything Must Go. It’s not very clear mind you.
Another excellent one for the collection. A 2012 style Manic Street Preachers T-Shirt. Think this cost about 3,000 Japanese Yen – so about 30 pounds. Yes I could make it for less than 3 pounds but I’m a sucker for this type of random spontaneous souvenir, so I bought one. Neil did too. Nice T-Shirt, nice memory.
The back of the T-Shirt. Exclusively the Japan gigs on it.