Manic Street Preachers in their own words and

Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Bonnie Tyler and Shakin’ Stevens were all in attendance but there was a notable absence in the shape of the Manic Street Preachers, arguably the country’s most successful rock band.

A spokeswoman said that the group had been approached by the BBC, who were showing the concert live, about playing but “they turned it down because they have never and will never play in front of the monarchy”.

The presence of Queen Elizabeth II, the Duke of Edinburgh and the Prince of Wales meant no Manics, who have repeatedly spoken in favour of abolishing the monarchy.

The crown may still be going strong but so are the band – here’s their life told through their own songs.

Motown Junk (Non-album single, 1990)

The Manics’ third single and first to chart, ‘Motown Junk’ contains many of the elements the band would become known for. It begins with a chant of “revolution”, contains lyrics designed to get under the skin – “I laughed when Lennon got shot” – and, most importantly, it’s a banger.

Motorcycle Emptiness (Generation Terrorists, 1992)

Never ones for underselling themselves, the band declared their debut album would be the “greatest rock album ever”, would sell 16 million copies, and they’d then disband. They didn’t quite get around to any of those things but ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ remains a highlight of an album which, if not the best ever made, is pretty damn good.

Faster (The Holy Bible, 1994)

Recorded during guitarist and main lyricist Richey Edwards’ battle with depression and subsequent self-harm, The Holy Bible was described by Q magazine as “graphic, violent torrent of self-lacerating punk fury”. Just months after the album was released Edwards went missing. As of November 2008 he is presumed dead.

Australia (Everything Must Go, 1996)

Following the disappearance of Edwards – the band continued to pay 25% of their royalties into a bank account for him until he was declared “presumed dead” – the Manics went in a more pop direction. That was no bad thing, with ‘Australia’ and the other three singles all going top 10 on the singles chart.

If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next (This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)

A song inspired by the Welsh farmers who went to fight against General Franco in Spain, its title is taken from a civil war poster of the time. The band’s first number one single, and so far the only number one single to contain the line “if I can shoot rabbits I can shoot fascists”.

The Masses Against The Classes (Non-album single, 2000)

The Manics moved away from their more mainstream sound with the release of ‘The Masses Against The Classes’, which opens with a Noam Chomsky quote, featured a Cuban flag on the CD single and was only made available for 24 hours. It still went to number one.

Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (Send Away The Tigers, 2007)

Edwards would be declared legally dead in 2008, and his former band explored the subject of his presumed suicide the previous year – subverting expectations by releasing arguably their poppiest song to date. The sound is upbeat but the message is clear as James Dean Bradfield, guest vocalist Nina Persson and bassist Nicky Wire trade lines: “I could have made you feel alright/I could have placed us in exile/I could have written all your lines/I could have shown you how to cry”.

She Bathed Herself In A Bath of Bleach – (Journal for Plague Lovers, 2009)

Before he disappeared, Edwards gave Wire a folder of lyrics, haikus, drawings and collages. In 2009 the band took some of that material and released Journal for Plague Lovers, their only album on which Edwards wrote the entirety of the lyrics.

(It’s Not War) Just The End of Love – (Postcards From A Young Man, 2010)

Described pre-release as “one last shot as mass communication”, Postcards From A Young Man saw the band, in Wire’s words, “going for big radio hits”. Its lead single is, to date, their last to crack the top 40. Job done.

Together Stronger (C’Mon Wales) (Non-album single, 2016)

Lest they be accused of taking themselves too seriously, the Manics showed they have a silly side too. They may have refused to perform for the Queen, but they were happy to release an anthem to cheer on their beloved Wales at Euro 2016. Not many bands can boast a discography which contains both laughing at the murder of John Lennon and an ode to Hal-Robson Kanu.


You Love Us (Generation Terrorists, 1992)

A furious glam-punk song that was re-recorded for Generation Terrorists having previously been released a standalone single. It was the last song the band played with Edwards, five weeks before his disappearance.

She Is Suffering (The Holy Bible, 1994)

The third and final single from The Holy Bible is suitably religious in its lyricism: “Beauty she is scarred into man’s soul/A flower attracting lust, vice and sin/A vine that can strangle life from a tree”.

A Design For Life (Everything Must Go, 1996)

One of the band’s best known songs, ‘A Design For Life’ is an exploration of class identity: “Libraries gave us power/Then work came and made us free/what price now for a shallow piece of dignity?”

The Love of Richard Nixon (Lifeblood, 2004)

Politically speaking it’s probably fair to say Richard Nixon wasn’t the band’s cup of tea, but they compared him favourably to George W Bush before the latter’s re-election in 2004: “People forget China and your war on cancer”.

The Everlasting (This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours, 1998)

A lament for the loss of youthful idealism: “Oh you’re old I hear you say/It doesn’t mean that I don’t care”.

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