Manic Street Preachers and Suede review: The indie icons' stellar Cardiff show

Manic Street Preachers on stage at Cardiff Castle
-Credit: (Image: DEPOT LIVE)


It looks like the Wales football team is set to name their name their new manager as Nicky Wire, according to bandmate James Dean Bradfield. He cites the lyricist and bassist's reading lists and knowledge of nutrition as attributes but, putting the rumours to bed, Wire responded: "I don't think Ribena, Kit Kats, and chips would be good for the Welsh football team."

To say it was a triumphant homecoming for the Manics would be nothing but a crass understatement as the seasoned trio treaded the boards at Cardiff Castle. From the hardcore Richey-era fans, decked in leather print and feather boas, to those who weren't even born when the band celebrated their 20th anniversary the adoration displayed was one only the Welsh can produce for one of their own.

To paraphrase their literary hero Jack Kerouac the empty sky over Cardiff city centre bared witness to the greatest hits of Blackwood's favourite sons. They've come along way since posing as Clash wannabes on the cover of their debut single Suicide Alley, having performed in an eclectic range of venues from The Railway Hotel in Crumlin and the Horse and Groom in Great Portland Street to the Millennium Stadium and the Karl Marx Theatre in Havana.

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James Dean Bradfield performs at Cardiff Castle
James Dean Bradfield performs at Cardiff Castle -Credit:DEPOT LIVE

This time they brought their butties, the brilliant Suede, who pioneered the scene which developed into Britpop with tales of androgynous escapades, chemical adventures, and hedonism in the London afterlife. The two bands' association reaches back to the 90s when the Suede's former tunesmith Bernard Butler joined the Manics on stage in 1994 and the latter covered The Drowners as a B-side.

The away side opened proceedings with Brett Anderson commanding the stage like a man half his age by perching on the speakers and diving to his knees. Opening with Turn Off Your Brain And Yell from their latest album Autofiction a string of hits followed including Animal Nitrate, Trash, and The Drowners, which saw Anderson enter the crowd and offer the microphone up to anyone who fancied a go.

Brett Anderson of Suede performing at Cardiff Castle
Brett Anderson of Suede performing at Cardiff Castle -Credit:DEPOT LIVE

The frontman's versatility as a vocalist endures from the band's heyday with his dulcet tones enveloping the beautiful By The Sea, Saturday Night, and the choppy Antidepressants, the band's first new music since 2022. It was a strong finish for the London quintet with with an acoustic twist on She's In Fashion, So Young, Metal Mickey, and Beautiful Ones closing the first half of the show.

As the baton was passed to Bradfield, Wire, and Moore the blistering and uncompromising mantra "We are not your sinners/Are voices are for real" echoed around the grounds of the medieval castle. You Love Us was followed by Everything Must Go, Motorcycle Emptiness, and their most famous cover Suicide Is Painless.

Brett Anderson on stage
Brett Anderson on stage -Credit:DEPOT LIVE

Glynneath's The Anchoress joined the band on stage for Little Baby Nothing and their last great smash-hit Your Love Alone is Not Enough. Referring to the former song Wire paid homage to its writer and and the band's much-missed lyricist and guitarist Richey Edwards whom he described as "the coolest and most structurally beautiful person – our intelligent, amazing, beautiful boy".

A Design For Life remains as anthemic as it did upon its 1996 release, a working-class anthem and a "song for Wales" that still resounds amid the political climate of today. James Dean Bradfield's pipes sound as strong as ever – the vocal athleticism of the man remains undiminished.

It was a safe set from the Manics with the Abba-influenced Orwellian the only newer song to be given an outing. From Despair to Where and No Surface All Feeling built up the momentum before the finale If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next solidified the crowd's love-in for Wales' greatest rock act. May their reign continue for decades to come.