With the Welsh flag displayed proudly behind them, Manic Street Preachers power through a set that proves entirely timeless.
Opening with long time favourite ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’, James Dean Bradfield’s voice projects through the fields, the songs that soundtracked many a youth echoing through the crowd. “A lot of people might not know this, but I am a veteran of the first ever Latitude!” he proclaims. “There were at lead 3 people in the tent watching me,” he laughs. “I was so bad. Got hammered watching Mogwai.” A decade on, and the band are far removed from the shambles he describes.
The ever-charismatic Nicky Wire grins from behind his bass guitar, relishing every moment as he jumps around the stage before the Latitude crowd. Drummer Sean Moore drives the band from the backline, resounding rhythms igniting those gathered with passion.
Dedicating ‘Jackie Collins Existential Question Time’ to missing band member Richard Edwards - “may your words travel the universe!” Nicky Wire declares - the band wear their history on their sleeves. Heartbreaking though it may be in places, it only makes their audience love them more. A constant presence in everything the band do, their tribute to the lost guitarist resounds through every refrain.
As the opening notes of ‘If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next’ echo from the stage, fervour takes hold. As the fans sing along open hearted, Manic Street Preachers are heralded as heroes. James Dean Bradfield dons the rock star persona, playing in to every lyric that echoes back from the audience, whilst Nicky Wire prances and dances around the stage in the way only he can make look good.
“Stay safe. Go home. Kiss your kids. Have a BBQ,” James Dean Bradfield tells the crowd. Grateful for every moment they’re spending, the Welsh outfit bow out on an elated high. “This verse is yours!” they scream, launching into defining track ‘A Design For Life’. The lyrics echo way past the crowd’s edge, all through the arena.
The most extravagant displays of energy might have remained on the stage, but with Manic Street Preachers you’re guaranteed as heartfelt a set as you can encounter. The soundtrackers of a generation sound as good as they ever have, and their crowd is every bit as devoted.
Photos: Sarah-Louise Bennett.