“Nothing other than music has the ability to mobilise thousands of people and make them move – nothing else does it.”
In a world ever-increasingly dominated by division and segregation, it’s refreshing to be reminded of one of life’s great pleasures by a man whose art has done more than most to bring people together.
James Dean Bradfield is the lead singer of the Manic Street Preachers, who are gearing up to unite Bristol at a huge show on the Harbourside next weekend.
The Manics will be performing as part of the Bristol Sounds series and, after a turbulent General Election campaign defined by terrorist attacks, hurt and fear, it's comforting to finally have something to look forward to.
The trio released their eighth studio album – a special edition of the classic Send Away The Tigers – last month, and celebrated the 20 anniversary of the iconic Everything Must Go with a huge sell-out arena tour last year.
When the Post caught up with Bradfield ahead of the band’s Bristol date, he shared that enthusiasm and told us they were simply desperate to be back on stage and bringing people joy through their music.
He said: “I’m an entertainer and I love to play our biggest songs.
“I refuse to complicate that experience.”
Some of the Manics’ song titles could easily fit into the realms of political discourse – you wouldn’t be surprised to hear catchphrases such as A Design For Life and If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next in party campaign material, after all.
But fractured society and political differences aside, Bradfield admitted Bristol would always hold a special place in his heart as the first concert he ever attended was at none other than Colston Hall.
Growing up in South Wales, he said musicians rarely travelled to cities like Cardiff or Newport when he was a teenager – a far cry from today when, unfortunately for us, Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena often attracts far bigger acts than any Bristol venues.
Bradfield said: “It was Echo and the Bunnymen in 1985 - we caught two trains and it was just amazing as they were really riding the crest of their success.
“Back in the day, bands would stop at the Severn – they did not come to Cardiff or Newport.
“The first time we then played at Colston Hall it was like we had come full circle.
“I remember that door they (Echo and the Bunnymen) all came out of and getting their autographs. I remember standing there listening to their sound check and waiting for them to come out – it was an intensely vivid experience for me.”
With that in mind, it’s only right to expect the Manics to thank us Bristolians once again for a legacy of musical greatness with an unforgettable show of their own.
The band are well-versed in playing at festivals and open-air concerts – a particularly strong set at Glastonbury back in 2014 springs to mind for this writer – and so we can only hope their Harbourside show is equally memorable.
And according to Bradfield, we’re in for a treat.
He added: “We’ve practised old stuff we haven’t played for a long time and there will be all the hits – we’ll just go for it. We play to get the crowd going.
“Bristol should be seen as the capital of the West Country. It’s got that industrial and import history and great music has always come from Bristol – it is the Marseilles of England.”
We can but hope their affection for Bristol and its charm translates into a fantastic night at the Harbourside next week.