Manic Street Preachers/Suede Eden Sessions June 30, 2024 live review

Firstly I’ll have to start with an apology to Manic Street Preacher fans following their co-headliner with Suede at the Eden Project, writes Paul Armstrong.

To be honest, I’ve never really got the Manics, particularly since when I first heard them they were citing Guns and Roses as one of their main influences.

Manic Street Preachers workmanlike and ploddingManic Street Preachers workmanlike and plodding (Image: Ben Foster)

And I don’t really get this co-headline tour at all really. I know they are good friends but they are not two bands I would put together and, if it had just been them, I honestly wouldn’t have bothered going at all.

We were queuing for drinks when the Manics hit the stage with the familiar riff from Motorcycle Emptiness echoing around the biomes, but it didn’t make us want to rush to the stage.

Anyway, we made our way to the arena, which was already uncomfortably rammed with people, and managed the first two songs (From Despair to Where and Everything Must Go if you must ask) before they wheezed out their hoary old cover of the Mash theme Suicide is Painless. This is when we decided we’d had enough.

(Image: Ben Foster)

If we must describe what we saw, “workmanlike” and “plodding” are the words that come to mind.

To be fair though, we were absolutely in the minority, as the rest of the Eden Project was eerily empty as the gig echoed around the domes and, if the audience roars were anything to go, by they were going down a treat with everyone else.

We could hear they played all the fan favourites including You Love Us, Everything Must Go, from the album of the same name which is actually terrific!, You Stole the Sun From My Heart, A Design for Life, La tristesse durera (Scream to a Sigh) and at the end ‘If You Tolerate This’ which is a great song by the way.

The Manics performed a crowd pleasing setThe Manics performed a crowd pleasing set (Image: Ben Foster)

So a crowd pleasing set and the crowd seemed very pleased indeed judging from the response.

In contrast Suede were absolutely stunning with even James Dean Bradfield admitting to the audience that their ‘opponents’ were on spectacular form at the moment.

Launching straight into Turn Off Your Brain and Yell from last year’s terrific album Autofiction, Brett Anderson was a ball of pent-up energy throwing himself around the stage and into the audience.

Brett Anderson was a ball of pent-up energyBrett Anderson was a ball of pent-up energy (Image: Ben Foster)

Autofiction is one of the best albums of their career so far on which they sounded renewed and revitalised just like they were on stage tonight.

I last saw them at the Newport Centre in December 1994 when Brett spent the entire gig slapping his arse with a microphone and, while there’s none of that tonight apart from a bit of bottom waggling, his energy levels don’t appear have dropped much since then.

It shows the power of Autofiction that songs from that album already sound like classics and they have a lot of those, many of which they wheeled out tonight.

Guitarist Richard Oakes replaced original guitarist Bernard Butler at the ripe old age of 17 in 1994.

Brett Anderson exhorts the crowdBrett Anderson exhorts the crowd (Image: Ben Foster)

Tonight he is on top form churning out riff after classic riff as if his life depended on it.

But the real star turn is frontman and main songwriter Brett Anderson who at 57 still seems so excited by HIS OWN band that at one stage he’s in the audience shouting ‘Come on Suede’.

Tonight it’s anthem after anthem for doomed youth, but there’s nothing more ironic than a decidedly middle aged audience singing back the chorus to So Young!

Trash is magnificent as is The Drowners and things go a bit animal with Animal Nitrate. It calms down a bit for Pantomime Horse but emotionally it’s a killer.

After a widescreen Filmstar the band unleash a newie called Anti-depressant which refers to the protagonist being trapped in “s**t stained” rooms.

It’s a metallic riff driven monster with echoes of Richard’s hero John McGeogh, former guitarist with Siouxsie and the Banshees.

However, it’s about at this point we start to notice a strange phenomenon. As we are standing just above the entrance and exit to the arena, people starting to leave.

It starts off as a trickle which gradually grows to a flood. Now I don’t know if it is Manic fans voting with their feet as, TBH, we did, or herd behaviour with people not wanting to get caught up in crowds at the end, but the arena gradually starts to empty as Suede give it their all on stage.

By the time the gig draws to a close about a quarter of the audience have gone leaving a big hole in the middle of the crowd.

However those that remain are vehement in their appreciation and are treated to rip roaring performances of So Young and Metal Mickey before the band leave us gloriously with a blistering Beautiful Ones.

Suede onstage among the biomesSuede onstage among the biomes (Image: Kathryn Nicholls)

So overall a game of two halves with the audience starting to leave as the band onstage blasted home goal after goal (do you see what I did there?). While this double header may work at other venues, it doesn’t work at Eden as it is all too easy for the audience to decide to slip away if they are indifferent to the other headliner, as was proved tonight.

Obviously the Cornish prefer meat and two veg as opposed to steak for their main course.