The plan: go to one of The Holy Bible shows in 2015.
The venture: never-ending setbacks from day one.
Getting the tickets back in December of last year was a nightmare, from visa cards failing, to money transfers and login issues – all to the sound of the ticking clock you always get with shows that sell out within minutes. By the time I was able to buy them – and after having jumped for joy like a little kid – I noticed that the date of the tickets was wrong.
Flights and hotel room were booked, train tickets were bought online in advance but, of course, were never received. Arriving at the airport, the goblins attacked again and an entire array of misfortunes ensued until after our return home.
‘Don’t bore us, get to the chorus!’
Fearing that an endless line of people in sleeping bags had already been forming since 5am (because, in my mind, everyone going to see the Manics is just as avid as me – how could you not?) I insisted we take a peek after some sightseeing and lunch. Instead of a crowd, however, we found about a dozen people stationed on the outside. Off we go to get some ice cream, then.
As we’re walking past the tour trucks parked in front of the venue, I hear my friend say, very calmly, “Look: James is over there.”
All of a sudden, I’m 12. So I tip toe to his line of vision and shyly wave hello. James crinkles and crumples his face as only he can, with a hand wave that says “Aw, no…! Please leave me alone…!”
You can say he brushed me off. But I’ll take the liberty of choosing the “James Dean Bradfield acknowledged my existence” version of events.
If there’s an album I can say has saved my life, it’s The Holy Bible.
You can find endless reviews on how this masterpiece is emblematic of young rage, someone’s adolescence – of an entire decade. Nostalgia is always referenced. People love it for its genius but also because it made such a strong impact on them when they were young.
But if there’s one thing the Manics’ Bible is not is a museum piece.
I was 12 at the time THB was released but only learned of its existence and gave it a proper listen a couple of years ago. Already in my 30s and eighteen years after it came out, I felt just as excited and fascinated by it as I would if I were 15. Ask any of my friends and witness the Rolling Of The Eyes that shouts “Oh, dear gods!, will she ever shut up about it?”
It never sounded dated at all, despite Thatcher and Reagan and Milosevic and Yeltsin. Mainly because Richey Edwards was more than an intellectual and literary genius. He was a true prophet. I found myself listening to an album from 1994, with songs like Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayit’sworldwouldfallapart, at the time of the Ferguson riots or a chorus asking for Le Pen to be, erm, done away with, when his daughter is following in daddy’s footsteps. Sadly, there’s always something in the news that you can link to a Bible song (maybe History is the perfect circle).
I wasn’t an angry teen back in the 90s, but life has since given me a fair amount of inner rage for me to juggle/do my best to suppress. Along comes The Holy Bible as a much needed catharsis, inspiration and overall brain nourishment. I was looking forward to watch it live, not only for the obvious reasons but for a culmination of all the hype I’ve felt since discovering it.
It didn’t happen. For one, I blame myself for having taken pictures (the lens always adds a veil between yourself and where you are), but the intrinsic harshness of the album sounded more tidy and neat – healthier, even. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you can’t sing in UPPERCASE your entire life.
Alas, the goblins were also on stage and Nicky Wire’s knee was injured after the first scissor jump, right before the first chorus of Yes.
I teared up during This Is Yesterday, head-banged and screamed my lungs out. The crowd was incredibly warm and friendly – except for one or two occasions when I felt right in the middle of Mean Girls, but I’ll overlook it as a cultural shock of sorts.
The second set was extra candy. It will never match your dream set list but at that point they could have played just about anything. Futurology doesn’t do much for me as an album (between the two siblings, my heart belongs to Rewind the Film), but its songs make for brilliant live music.
Overall, James’ ability to sing and play The Holy Bible live should be studied by science. Smudged-faced Nicky still looks like my older brother (especially with a kilt) and Sean is as mind-blowing as ever (Condemned to Rock’n’Roll, anyone?). And Richey. Who’s always there, even if you’re not looking.