Manic Street Preachers – Cardiff Coal Exchange - 8.3.01

Exactly a month ago on a Thursday night cold enough to freeze a monkey’s nuts, a few hundred hardcore manics fans waited all night outside ‘City Centre Ticket Line’ just to get their hands on the limited number of  tickets to see their favourite band, Manic Street Preachers in their most intimate gig for years. And now just a month later after the historic Cuban show and the release of two new top 10 singles, they are playing their first UK gig since the 60,000 capacity millennium eve show in the stadium. But tonight only a mere 600 lucky fans have had the chance to see one of the biggest UK bands of the last decade.

The stage is set, complete with white Nicky Wire feather boa draped ‘round his mic stand. The band takes to the stage. What will Wire be wearing? In this case it was a white nurse’s uniform, knee-high pink and white socks, the golden sparkly cap recently spotted on the TV show CD:UK and the usual big sunglasses. Didn’t he say he wouldn’t be wearing skirts or dresses anymore now that he’s had his hair cut short?

The set list comprising of old and new songs were mostly from the new album Know Your Enemy. Kicking the show off was the newly released single Found That Soul, followed by the classic Motorcycle Emptiness. A Kevin Carter later and still no word from ‘the Wire’, until…… “Don’t you think I look more like a woman than Anne Robinson !?! ….,(I spoke too soon.yay.)…..She’s a fucking dog!! Or as Jim Royle said on the Royle family said ‘Watchdog !?! I am watching a dog!’”. Just what the Cardiff fans wanted to hear after Anne Robinson’s dig at the welsh the other week on ‘Room 101’.

They go on to do a punky version of the first song using lyrics by James about his mother’s death, Ocean Spray. The Year Of Purification and Baby Elian leave Bradfield alone on stage for an acoustic solo.

Release the disco ball from the ceiling and get your flares on, you are about to be taken back in time to 1977, the age of punk and disco, but no this isn’t punk “we’re going back to our punk roots” oh no it’s Miss Europa Disco Dancer. Where Wire and Bradfield trade instruments during the song so that James can play the clipped funk bit, “I feel like Mark King!” says James, “You’ve got more funk than Mark King. James is Flea!” answers Nicky. The instrument swapping though messy is strangely amusing. Miss Europa Disco Dancer ends with Wire shouting “Brain-dead motherfuckers” over and over, should he be swearing on national radio? Does it actually matter? No, it’s Nicky Wire he’ll swear live on radio if he wants!

Next tonight in the bizarre events category is Wattsville Blues, with Wire on lead vocals *ahem*. Oh yeah and he’s still on lead guitar. The show goes out with the Manic Street Preachers classics You Love Us and who would have guessed, the anthemic A Design For Life.

 Time to run for cover with Sean Moore as Bradfield throws his guitar in the air and it breaks into two, he then proceeds to walk off stage. Leaving Wire to cause some more damage by smashing his bass and pushing over the amps and drum kit, before standing on the drum riser to inspect his destruction well done. Then a quick smile and wave for the audience before leaving the stage. A night camping out in the freezing weather well spent? I think so !

Hayley Mathias