POP REVIEW : Manic Street Preachers: Politely Punk

The Welsh band Manic Street Preachers wants to be the angry young punks of the '90s. But at the Whisky on Tuesday the quartet only looked and sounded ticked off about having missed out on being angry young punks in the late '70s, when it meant something.

It certainly didn't seem to mean much Tuesday. Despite all the bellowed, anarchic rhetoric and retro-Clash riffing of such songs as "Motown Junk" and "Slash N' Burn"--and despite stories of the band's having sparked a student riot at a show in England--the Preachers seemed neither revolutionary point men nor anti-authoritarian brats. Not once did singer-guitarist James Dean Bradfield's Joe Strummer-like stance incite anything more than memories, nor did bassist Richey Edwards' Sid Vicious act seem the least bit, well, vicious.

At one point a fan got on stage and danced a bit before meekly returning to the floor. In the good old days, the band would have slammed him off the stage--or vice versa. Polite punks? As oxymoronic as it sounds, that was the case.

The only triumph came at the end of the short set, when Edwards emptied out a couple of pillows on the crowd and the club eerily filled with floating feathers. Then again, real punks would have thrown tar first.

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