It’s not often you have to pick your way through expensive baby buggies and over picnickers to get to the front of a Manics’ show.
With John Lewis as its main sponsor, and Elbow and Madness as respective headliners on Saturday and Sunday, On Blackheath brings new meaning to the word genteel. With champagne bars here, a wellbeing coach there, a food hall even, Glastonbury feels like slumming it in comparison.
The Manics are clearly unperturbed by the prospect of playing to a field of SUV drivers. It’s their last show of 2015 and they’re both flippant and fired up (Wire: “There’s six months of TV to catch up on”), demob happy and riotous. They may open with Motorcycle Emptiness and Walk Me To The Bridge, but we still get a stuttering, sharp-edged Kevin Carter and a thunderous Jackie Collins Existential Question Time, which furrows a few brows with its ’Mummy, what’s a sex pistol?’ lyric and a euphoric You Love Us. Though even James Dean Bradfield will concede that Show Me The Wonder is “our wedding song”.
Nicky Wire, sporting a collage of patches on his jacket that includes a Hanoi Rocks rose, is all spider legs and lusty shouts of ‘do not go gentle in to that good night’, and while the hefty-looking PA might only emit as much noise as a radio alarm, it does nothing to dent the Manic ardour, as we’re left beneath a shower of confetti and the darkening sky, A Design For Life ringing out through the night.