Manic Street Preachers find life after loss

These are the facts: On Feb. 1, 1995, a promising young Welsh musician named Richey Edwards simply disappeared.

Police found his car — but not his body — near Britain’s Severn Bridge, a popular suicide spot. Granted, the Manic Street Preachers founder was depressed at the time, fresh out of rehab, and heading to the States to promote his band’s edgiest album, “The Holy Bible.”

The group soldiered on as a more anthemic trio and sifted through countless Edwards sightings over the years, until last November, when he was legally declared dead.

But the Manics have chiseled a unique epitaph for their friend.

Two weeks before he went missing, Edwards handed bassist and lyricist Nicky Wire a notebook filled with drawings, photo collages and lyrics.

“He was always giving us lyrics, but not to this extent — there were more than 25 songs there,” says Wire, who turned said poetry into a full album, the Steve Albini-tracked “Journal for Plague Lovers,” which the group is backing in concert in The City this week.

“So doing this record wasn’t so much about closure — it was really about celebrating Richey, rediscovering him as an artist. His words were so instinctive, academic and entertaining, we realized we sounded like a different band when we used them. So it felt good to be like that again.”

“Peeled Apples” opens the set with a dialogue snippet from Christian Bale in “The Machinist,” since Bale is the one actor Wire believes could accurately reanimate Edwards in a proposed biopic.

Then it hurtles with proto-punk velocity through the Baudelairian verses of “Pretension/Repulsion” and “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time.” All are given extra vocal passion by frontman James Dean Bradfield.

There was a self-destructive aspect to this coda, Wire admits.

“But Richey just consumed so much culture and crammed it all into his lyrics, and I think he’d come to some conclusions,” he says. “He wasn’t quite as disgusted and raging as he was on ‘The Holy Bible’ — he was a man at his intellectual peak.”

The loss is still reverberating. Whenever the group travels to London, Wire says, “We drive over that bridge, so we have to face it pretty often. But I think we’ve found a middle way, really, of just existing with the uncertainty.”

Because there’s still the slim possibility that Edwards might have wanted to disappear.

“That’s much more common than anyone could guess,” Wire says. “Literally, some people are living just five miles down the road and they’ve never been discovered. So who knows? We don’t make any judgments.”

 

IF YOU GO

Manic Street Preachers

Where: The Fillmore, 1805 Geary Blvd., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $22.50

Contact: www.livenation.com

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Dave Hodges, pastor at Zide Door, the Church of Entheogenic Plants that include marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, holds some psychedelic mushrooms inside the Oakland church on Friday, July 22, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Psychedelic spirituality: Inside a growing Bay Area religious movement

‘They are guiding us into something ineffable’

San Francisco Police stand guard outside the Mission Police Station during a protest over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Fired: California bill aims to decertify police for serious misconduct

By Robert Lewis CalMatters On a Wednesday afternoon in April 2018, Gardena… Continue reading

The Giants and Dodgers face each other again following a May series the Dodgers swept; Dodgers shortstop Gavin Lux caught stealing by Giants second baseman Donovan Solano at Oracle Park on May 23 is pictured. 
Chris Victorio/
Special to The Examiner
Giants vs. Dodgers: What you need to know before this week’s huge series

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner That grinding noise you’ll hear… Continue reading

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Monday that state employees and health care workers must be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing and wear masks. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters)
California orders vaccine or testing for health care workers, state employees

By Ana B. Ibarra CalMatters Amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases and… Continue reading

Jeremy Kahn and Monica Ho are excellent in San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Lauren Yee’s “The Song of Summer,” being presented live and online. (Courtesy Jessica Palopoli)
Touching relationship at heart of ‘Song of Summer’

Lighthearted SF Playhouse show ‘feels right for this moment’

Most Read