Manic Street Preachers at Cambridge Corn Exchange 11th October 2021

Review and Photos by Mark Stimpson

Manic Street Preachers return with a UK tour and new album, The Ultra Vivid Lament after a gap of three years. I find it quite hard to believe that it’s also their first album to reach number one in 23 years.

James Dean Bradfield

Manics have been on my photography bucket list for some time so when I saw they were playing Cambridge I made sure I was free to go along.

The evening kicked off with a short set from Low Hummer, a six piece band from Hull. They performed a few tracks from their debut album Modern Tricks For Living. At one point lead singer Dan called Cambridge Bournemouth. This was made even more funny when he told the audience he had written Cambridge on the back of his guitar. I found their sound original and quite pleasing. They are definitely a band to watch for the future. I was slightly disappointed they didn’t have any CD’s for sale.

Low Hummer

Around 9pm the lights dimmed and the audience cheered as Manics came on stage. Immediately as the intro of Motorcycle Emptiness started the audience were bouncing up and down. It was a real crowd pleaser and a great way to start the show.  This was quickly followed up by the dystopian Orwellian from the new album, then Your Love Alone before returning to the new album with The Secret He Had Missed.

Nick Wire

By the time they got to You Stole The Sun From My Heart the audience were singing their hearts out.

James Dean Bradfield is a true showman, bouncing around the stage with dizzying speed, it was exhausting just to watch. On the other hand Nicky Wire in his dark shades either bounced on the spot or wandered around giving the occasional high kick. Nicky reminded the audience that they first played Cambridge at the Junction in March 1991.  He’s either got a very good memory or he’d googled that before the show.

Cambridge Corn Exchange

There was a brief moment of reflection, when James tells the audience that they are a four piece and would always be a four piece.  Obviously, a reference to Richey Edwards who went missing in 1995.

Old favourites such as If You Tolerate This Your Children will Be Next kept the audience singing along.

Before the start of the show, I’d grabbed a shot of the set list on my phone. Song 12 was ??? I wondered if this would be something a bit special. I was not disappointed, James Dean Bradfield announcing that it was audience participation time and at that point played a wonderful solo of La Tristesse Durera . Playing an acoustic guitar he challenged the audience to out sing him. Challenge was accepted.

A stand out moment for me was when James Dean Bradfield stood at the front of the stage and started playing a few riffs of Into the Valley before launching into a cover of Guns N Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine. The audience loved it.

The evening ended on a high with the only song that could do that, A Design for Life

Overall a fantastic show, that clearly shows that the Manics are still top of their game.

Set List

Motorcycle Emptiness


Your Love Alone

The secret He has Missed

Enola/ Alone

You Stole The Sun From My Heart

Still Snowing In Sappora

Everything Must Go

Complicated Illusions

International Blue

If You Tolerate This Then Your Children Will Be Next 


Sweet Child O’ Mine



Slash N Burn

Let Robeson Sing

You Love Us

Design 4 Life 


Philip Goddard

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