O2 Arena – London
Manic Street Preachers
Words: Cait Mogridge
It’s hard not to be disappointed when a gig is hyped as much as the NME Big Gig was, but disappointed I was not. As soon as I walked in the door of the new O2 Arena I was surrounded by people desperately offering me exclusive access to this, and free entry to that. I managed to shake them off and had a wander round the venue and stumbled across Noel Fielding signing autographs for screaming girls. He did win ‘sexiest male’ in the NME awards…
Into the Arena and the show kicked off with a ridiculously energetic performance from Wakefield’s favourite band, The Cribs. Their punchy songs were only interrupted when front man, Ryan Jarman stopped to say, “this is a billion pound’s worth of venue you’re all sitting in, a billion pound!” in his memorable west Yorkshire accent. It took me a while to notice the average audience member wasn’t old enough to buy a pint but the appearance of the Smiths’ Johnny Marr mid set certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
Next up were the Klaxons, who came to the stage in full length black cloaks and more eye makeup than could be found in Gerard Way’s makeup bag, both of which seemed to completely disintegrate before the end of their set. Songs like “Golden Skans” and “Atlantis to Interzone” got everyone moving with the so called inventors of new rave.
Dj sets between bands provided by Radio One’s Zane Lowe made sure the kid’s energy levels never fell below hyperactive. The combination of alcohol, e-numbers and splashes of Pendulum and such like seemed to take hold of everyone in the pit. I could only imagine how sweaty they must have been by the end.
But for many, Bloc Party were the highlight of the evening with an awesome set complete with pyrotechnics, smoke and streamers. As always, their chillingly indie riffs and meaningful lyrics got to everyone, even though they prefer to play more intimate venues.
Afterwards I grabbed a chat and an extortionately priced beer with the UK’s quietest guitarist Russell Lissack, and asked him how he thought it went. His comment: “Well it was a bit hot under those lights”. He was more concerned about the fact that security wouldn’t let his Mum backstage.
“Why the f*ck didn’t you vote for The Cribs to win anything?”, was the way Kaiser Chiefs’ Ricky Wilson chose to start before launching into a set of irritatingly catching pop records. It was evident they had experience in playing stadium sized venues, the crowd almost gave you the eye if you weren’t going nuts and singing na-na-na-na-naa in the appropriate places.
All this of course, was building up to the performance from the winners of this years’ Godlike Genius award, The Manic Street Preachers. Although they seemed to be the ‘odd one out’ in many ways, they certainly caught our attention by opening with a marching band of bagpipe players that filled the whole stage. They then treated us to a set spanning the length of their career, including classics like “Motorcycle Emptiness” and their more recent release “Autumn song”. As they played, slogans panned around a screen at the edge of the arena, memorizing its viewers.
They also managed to cram in an amazing cover of this last summer’s hit ‘Umbrella’ by Rihanna and a version of ‘She Sells sanctuary’ by The Cult. Just when we thought they’d run out of surprises, Welsh rocker Cerys Mathews of Catatonia appears on stage to sing ‘Your love alone is not enough’ for an awesome finale. “We’re very f*cking happy taffs tonight”, James shouts out, before tearfully thanking NME. I think that was obvious from the start.
So do I think I’ll be sat in the front row for the awards next year? After this years’ show, I certainly hope so.