On 21st May 2015 the Manic Street Preachers collected The Ivors Inspiration Award.

This Ivor Novello Award acknowledges not just the quality of the songwriters’ catalogue, but also their achievements in inspiring others. It represents the appreciation of all those who have been inspired to emulate their talent and originality.

Originally commissioned to appear in the award ceremony programme, music journalist Mark Sutherland, profiles the band’s inspirational career:

As a band, the Manic Street Preachers have always worn their own inspirations on their sleeve. Even, occasionally, on their album sleeves. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the band that voraciously hoovered up the greatest music, art and literature available to them and channelled
it into their own glorious music have, over the course of an almost 30-year career, become a huge source of inspiration themselves.

Because over those years the Manics – singer/guitarist James Dean Bradfield, bassist Nicky Wire and drummer Sean Moore, not forgetting guitarist Richey Edwards, who went missing 20 years ago – have stood for everything that’s vital about rock music. Fiercely intelligent lyrically and always progressive musically, they have crammed more into their career than 100 other bands put together.

And, indeed, they have essentially managed to be several different bands during that career. Who else could have pulled off both the provocative posturing of 1992 debut Generation Terrorists and the statesmanlike sensitivity of 1996’s megahit Everything Must Go? The harrowing despair and dissent of 1994’s The Holy Bible and the elegant reflections of 2013’s Rewind The Film? The glossy arena rock of 1993’s Gold Against The Soul and the electronic Euro-futurism of last year’s Futurology?

But, while the Manics have never been afraid to be different, their core values have always remained the same. So the fans have followed them through every stage of their development, while each era of this most cherishable of bands has made its influence felt.

So you can spot their musical influence in bands as successful as the Stereophonics and Muse, and the significance of their breakthrough in the rise and rise of the Welsh music scene. But the real power of the Manics has been to inspire bands to do things their own way. Their lyrics – usually written by Wire and, in the early days, Edwards – have made their mark on any band with something to say, whether political (A Design For Life, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next, Revol) or personal (From Despair To Where, Faster, Your Love Alone Is Not Enough). And any band with a strong visual aesthetic owes a debt to the Manics’ insistence that artwork and image are hugely important components of any band that truly matters.

And it’s that attention to detail that’s the key to the Manic Street Preachers’ enduring success. They’ve never stood still, never stopped trying to make sense of the world, never stopped being inspired. And that’s why they’ll never stop being inspirational either.

Mark Sutherland (c) 2015