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Suede with Manic Street Preachers - The Warfield Theatre (San Francisco, CA) - November 7th, 2022

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
8 November 2022

Manic Street Preachers and Suede are two utterly confusing bands. The Manics are so good at knotting together catchy hooks with soul-wrenching lyrics that they make the wave of emo bands that came crashing ashore in their inspirational wake seem like circus music. Similarly, Suede’s music is beautiful and sounds inspirational, but a read through the liner notes would have anyone wondering which hotline to call for help in the presence of so many diverse and rich psychological issues. A real Freud’s field day. The Manics, as their name would imply, are here to tell us of the end of days – through societal or personal failures – whereas Suede fixates more on the end of one’s self. So, why not throw them on a bill together and see what happens?

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Concert goers in San Francisco discovered the answer to that question one drizzly night at the Warfield: magic.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Though their masterwork, The Holy Bible, was sadly absent from the evening, Manic Street Preachers sampled fairly equally from their discography for the setlist. They opened their set with the dwindling, desperate “Motorcycle Emptiness” from their first studio album, Generation Terrorists. It’s simply a beautiful song. James Dean Bradfield was only 23 years old when Terrorists, was released. Thirty years later, he still fills the soul of this song with such youthful desperation. Noodling is usually something that guitarists do to fill space, but in this case Bradfield owns the space. The lassoing guitar that seems to pull the endless backdrop of existence along coupled with the utter disillusionment and disorientation of the lyrics makes for a really lovely crisis set to music. Nearly every little child dreams of the unlocking of some secret world when they reach adulthood; this song perfectly captures the disappointment of crossing that milestone and being met with less wonder and more wander.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

The Manics played a couple of covers, too. A surprise gem of the night was their rendition of The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary.” The Cult is definitely more heavy-handed and straightforward than the Manics, so the exaggerated throbbing of the original seems to have its edges sanded down a bit. Conversely, their other cover of the evening, “Suicide is Painless (the theme from M*A*S*H)” was more pointed and sharp than the original. Whereas the original has this buttery soft harmony, the Manics interjected more torment, albeit beautiful torment, into their version.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

The standout of the evening, though, was “Autumnsong” from Send Away the Tigers. This anthemic triumph of a song always evokes for me this feeling of an old-time devotional in the same vein of some of Queen’s sweeping stadium anthems. Perhaps this is as close to finding God as a bunch of shoegaze atheists are ever going to get, but the swaying calm of this song goes toe-to-toe with the ferociousness of its passion. The needling moments of the guitar are complex yet tender, as if formed by a guitar virtuoso – a real shredder – talking in his sleep.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

The Manics and Suede have been swapping places as headliners in this tour, perhaps a very socialist approach to managing rock n’ roll egos. Whatever the reason, I am fully appreciative we saw Suede after the Manics. This has nothing to do with the capacity of either band. The Manics have proven themselves musically. However, whereas the Manics seem somewhat human, like the types who drink beer and raise children and read books, Suede is composed of completely alien beings. Lead singer Brett Anderson tore onto the stage with bizarre half-jump movements in which he climbed the monitor and aggressively stretched for the ceiling. He never actually took off, but not for lack of trying. It would figure that the Superman of the alternative rock scene wouldn’t actually be able to take off and fly, though there were moments when I think he actually got close.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

At no point did Anderson and crew lose this momentum. They began their set with the deliciously bizarre “She Still Leads Me On.” The album version, which up until now sounded fairly robust to me, now seems like an anemic shell of what the song can be. Their live version of this song was roaring, with those lilting high notes of “she leads me on,” taking on a practically technological feel – as if someone had simply ramped up the steam power propelling Anderson forward to full tilt.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Full tilt was where they stayed the whole evening. Without pausing for more than half a breath between most songs, they tore through one bombastic moment after another. “Personality Disorder” was a maddening stop that leaned into the learning and suffocating nature of mental health challenges. The cacophony of lyrical weaving really evokes the internal soundtrack that comes with uneasiness and panic.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

The highlight of the evening was “Animal Nitrate.” Is it just me, or are thinly-veiled songs about drugs just always a good time? “Animal” has these lovely, sweeping howls that contrast so nicely with the stomping, pointed rhythm. It’s a sinister song that comes off as pleading and almost sweet at points. Honestly, if they had come out and played this one song and left the stage, it still would have been a full evening. I was absolutely battered after riding the swells of this song. By the end of the evening, I was practically undone.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

I hear some people pay psychologists good money to investigate the inner workings of the psyche over the course of several years, but I got a complete cerebral deboning from this Manics / Suede show. Of course, rock n’ roll is no substitute for actual therapy, but, in one night, the Manics and Suede managed to shuck off any pretenses I may have feebly been holding on to, pound my consciousness into submission, and allow me to connect with with swirling crisis of the times . . . and somehow, despite it all, emerge hopeful.

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver


Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Manic Street Preachers, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver

Manic Street Preachers Suede at The Warfield San Francisco 2022-11-07
Suede, photograph by Patric Carver