Last night we went to see Manic Street Preachers at Brixton Academy. It had been rescheduled from last November due to a bout of tonsillitis for the lead singer. I was stressing as usual about getting there; parking in Brixton is difficult and the side roads are a maze of one way streets, no entries and no-through roads. Having scoured the web for parking information without success, I used google maps. The StreetView feature was great. You can walk around virtually, checking out not just these restrictions but also where the yellow lines, disabled bays and residents permit parking are . I could even spot where the dropped kerbs were, so I could plan my route between car and venue. obviously some good fortune is still required to get a space, but having so much information in advance reduces the stress. The planning paid off and with a combination of SatNav and SteveNav we parked within a hundred yards of the venue.
It was the first time I had gone to Brixton Academy in the Wheelchair. The viewing area along the side is excellent, but it was a little depressing looking down on the standing area where I had stood the last time we had seen them in late 2007, shortly after my diagnosis. Saying that, I remember thinking then that it might be the last time I see them, but here I was three years later. The same is significantly less likely to be the case this time.
They came on around 9.15 and started a great setlist comprising of tracks from most of their album back catalogue. As ever, their performance was faultless and as with Muse, every song was a crowd pleaser; you're never wanting them to 'get on to the next one'. One of the tracks they played from their new album had a certain irony: it is titled 'Me and Stephen Hawking'. The set included a short accoustic section and video below is from that. Unfortunately the volume of the band at full tilt was just too much for the iphone to deal with!
I managed to get through the entire gig without bursting into tears, even when they played A Design For Life and Motorcycle Emptiness, although I had control the occasionally wobbly lower lip! So a thoroughly enjoyable evening, the only complaint is that the set lasted barely ninety minutes and they don't 'do' encores. With so much material to choose from, they could manage a couple of hours.
The staff were excellent. They escorted us through the crowds, helped us get the wheelchair up a stupidly steep 45 degree ramp, and even intervened when some pissed bloke on the wheelchair platform had the cheek to tell Tracy to move because he couldn't see!
Next time you're on play.com or itunes and want to spend your £7.99 on a great album, search for Everything Must Go, Send Away The Tigers or Postcards From A Young Man.