The 15th February 1992 edition of NME delves further into the Manics' world in the immediate aftermath of 'Generation Terrorists' and hints for the first time (to the general surprise of no one) that the 'release-one-double-album-and-split-up-in-a-blaze-of-glory' claim may not actually be true. It's also Carter's turn to come in for some stick, or rather their fans, ironic given that my first ever gig was Carter and my second was the Manics.
Back to the music. Tucked away on a bootleg video of two 1996 gigs that I picked up on ebay a while back is "London Astoria 20.2.92 - Full set inc. lots of old songs they no longer play". It's not quite a full set, as it turns out two and a half songs are missing, but even with the presumably fan-filmed footage it's a corker. Coming in halfway through 'Democracy Coma', it leads us through 'Born to End', 'Love's Sweet Exile', 'Repeat', 'It's So Easy', 'Slash 'N' Burn', 'Crucifix Kiss', 'Sorrow 16', 'Little Baby Nothing', 'Stay Beautiful' and 'Motown Junk'. It's the gig that the footage from the 'Slash N' Burn' video is taken from (with 'Crucifix Kiss' also turning up as a B-side to that single), James looking far cooler than should be possible in a frilly blouse, Sean boiling his brains with his Russian hat and Nicky in his iconic black mask makeup.
The choice of songs is interesting, B-sides still included in the set, but no room for 'Motorcycle Emptiness', and 'Love's Sweet Exile' is still played more in the style of its earlier incarnations than the album version less than two weeks after its release. Nicky is warming up into his full-on motormouth period informing some audience members, presumably in the balcony, that they look like they'd be better suited to being at an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The general feeling is that despite the gloss of the album, the live arena still shows that the early spirit is still there, albeit with renewed musical prowess (James I'm looking at you).
The missing songs from the above gig, 'You Love Us' and 'Nat West...' turn up on Disc 2 of the 'Televised Propaganda' DVD seemingly recorded for MTV, along with 'Love's Sweet Exile', 'Slash 'N' Burn' (or 'Lash & Burn' as it is on the sleeve), 'Crucifix Kiss' (labelled wrongly as 'Sorrow 16'), 'Little Baby Nothing' and 'Motown Junk'. They obviously have the added bonus of decent footage and improved sound as well as the infamous Nicky-smacking-a-photographer-with-his-bass incident. It must have hurt Nicky just as much as he had to carry on the rest of the gig with a different guitar.
We also find out that future plans include touring America and Japan, we're reminded that up to now they've only played one gig outside the UK in Paris. Apparently American reviewers of the album are describing it as "Nine Inch Nails meets Cheap Trick" and Richey in particular almost spat the words "Smashing Pumpkins" in relation to another comparison. When asked about singles we're told that 'Another Invented Disease' will be next (really?) and maybe either 'Motorcycle Emptiness' or 'Little Baby Nothing' after that to cross over "into the housewives' market" (Nicky). Highlight of the interview again goes to Richey for the way he says The Who.
Proof that the Manics were moving out of the indie-land that they had predominantly inhabited up to this point came with a great feature on Headbanger's Ball, captured on Disc 2 of the 'Televised Propaganda' DVD. Featuring an extremely bashful Richey and Nicky talking through the usual stuff between clips of all their promo videos and a quick snippet of 'Nat West...' live, it's a perfect summation of their career to date. Nicky for one expresses pride at the album hitting number one in the rock charts, something which he didn't particularly feel about the indie charts.
Another bootleg video in my collection, which leads with the Reading 1997 gig, features a performance from Brighton East Wing from 14th March 1992. Essentially the same gig as the one described earlier, the only differences are the opener and closer are exchanged, with an absolutely storming 'You Love Us' even featuring the ending played at lightning fast speed, and 'Damn Dog' (credited as "Unknown Song ?") replacing 'Sorrow 16'.
Shot from the side of the stage, it's quite a Richey-centric video given that he's stood in front of the camera, but James is again the star of the show. The highlight comes before 'Little Baby Nothing' when one heckler clearly shouts "Hey Richey, are you plugged in?!", with a mouthed "Nah" and a shake of the head the response. Great gig.
Carrying on the tradition of including older songs, ticking the boxes of allowing newer fans to hear them and not having to record any new songs, 'Motown Junk' was joined by its B-side 'Sorrow 16', although on the re-release CD I picked up later on 'Motown Junk' was omitted, preventing me from owning it on CD for a while longer. Tucked away as the only new song was the superbly understated one-man-and-his-guitar of 'Ain't Going Down'. To throw this away as the B-side of single number four from an album shows an embarrassment of riches in terms of material that would carry on for most of their career.
The accompanying video is basically a James Dean Bradfield appreciation-fest. Comprised of footage from the aforementioned Astoria gig, along with backstage footage it's a PROPER ROCK video. James pulling out all his best guitar god moves, looking as cool as he ever has, even managing to pull off wearing the brightest pink fur coat you'll ever see. My favourite moment was always the play-fighting scene where he looks like he's just slightly overdoing it, but no one would dare tell him he was. We've all been on the receiving end right?
So, after four major label singles and a double album, what next? 1992 still had plenty more Manics memories to come.