MANIC STREET PREACHERS headlined an incredible night of music in Southampton.

The band from Blackwood played all of their haunting second album, The Holy Bible, to mark twenty years since its first release.

Later they launched into an assortment of other greatest hits. The whole show lasted for more than two hours.

Huge cheers greeted lead singer-guitarist James Dean Bradfield, maverick bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore when they arrived amid an energetic laser light show.

The giant Guildhall stage was decked with camouflage, paying tribute to the military style that the band would often adopt in the early days.

This time it was just the three original band members playing The Holy Bible. The first time around there had of course been four.

Nicky Wire recalled that their first time at the Guildhall was with lyrical genius Richey Edwards only a year before he went tragically missing in February 1995 aged just 27.

The Holy Bible is an outstanding album of conviction and even anger.

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While sometimes hidden by momentous guitar riffs and melodies, a lot of the lyrics, mostly written by Richey, are from the darkest corners of existence.

The words can be draining and troubling, but they are also uplifting because at least someone has thought deeply about such difficult things. It would be worse if no one ever had.

The Manics have been stunningly loyal to Southampton. Astonishingly, this was their seventh visit since 1991.

Nicky also paid tribute to another famous city institution.

“We all remember playing at The Joiners Arms” he told fans to rapturous cheers. “It was where we signed our record deal.”

That was in March 1991 and the true story of how music industry executives raced down from London to meet the band in Southampton has since taken on an almost mythical status. The twentieth-fifth anniversary of that event is looming.

In the second part of the show the band played other classics like Motorcycle Emptiness and Your Love is Alone is Not Enough and had about a thousand fingers pointing at them during a lively rendition of You Love Us.

The brilliant Design for Life wrapped things up with a near universal sing-a-along with James Dean Bradfield’s tremendous vocals.

Although this tour was a celebration of the past, the Manics still have something new to say. They have had two top four albums in the past two years, Rewind the Film and their latest Futurology.

On Saturday they will play to 10,000 fans in a huge sell-out concert at Cardiff Castle.

This was an outstanding show. It was a requiem of all that has gone before by one of Britain’s biggest bands in Southampton’s biggest venue.

Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.

Richard Derbyshire