Cardiff You Tolerate This - Melody Maker, 19th September 1998
So you thought the festival season was over? tell almost but not quite. . . We go to Cardiff and see the MANICS, ASH, ROBBIE WILLIAMS and REPUBLICA blow the roof off the Radio 1 tent
The festival season draws to a final, no really, no more, promise, end with a Radio 1 Roadshow in the rather beautiful surroundings of Cardiff Castle. For a while we were tempted by the tug of the Radio 2 Roadshow at The Prunes in London's Albert Hall, but, deciding that the Smiley Miley "How Far Have We Travelled" segment ("er, nowhere "), an overly confusing Bits and Pieces ("was the third one "Rock Me Amadeus?") and the threat of sharing snakebites with your great-grandad was too much for even our finely honed rock-n-roll constitutions, we barrel along Cardiff instead.
Radio 1 is keen to insist all day that 10,000 people will fill the largest tent ever erected on British soil. "It's the old tent from Tribal Gathering." notes Saffron from Republica. "You might get 10,000 in there," says Huricane #1's Andy Bell, "but you'd have to stack them."
So, smaller than anyone's letting on, but a fine line-up and a vindacation of pop'n'roll's elegant diversity. These days there is no culture of defiance, and to try buying into any growdy idealism wiould be vaguely embarrassing. Sure, Capital's castration of Xfm is relentlessly annoying, but as a late summer sketch of The Way Things Sound These Days, this Radio 1 day out-colours in better shapes than most of the summer's festival manged.
Still, there's a strange, shuffly obligation to the interviews taking place in a fenced-off area backstage that appears to be a cross between an allotment and the Somme. Hello, mud. And hello, Neil Hannon.
"I've got a hangover," he reveals from behind his shades, "I was drinking last night. And eating too. General excess."
Do you like Wales?
"It's f***ing great," says Hannon. "Hang on, I get told off by my dad for swearing. So I like it a lot."
The winds get up and a few people are dive-bombed by wasps. Then Republica appear.
"I've had four hours' sleep in three days," says guitarist Johnny Male.
I can't speak," says Saffron. "I' ii be up for a minute ."
Here's DAnny from Embrace.
"We're playing a gig in Cardiff tonight, so we won't get to be here. I think Ash are coming along afterwards though. (Looking at Ferris wheel) I don't think I'll be going on that. I'll probably throw up."
Cerys from Catatonia ambles along.
"We're in the middle of rehearsals for the next album," she explains, "but I only live 10 minutes away, so I came along. I'm looking forward to seeing the Manics. I like their new stromtrooper clithes. No one ever came to wales in the past, with the exception of wham! in their shuttlecock phase. That was in the Swansea Top Rank."
"Bedazzlemant," she pronounces enigmatically.
A bold call, but as the bands begin to filter in, there's a sense that this might be one of the summer's most unlikely successes. There's a curious end-of-term feel, a collective urge to breathe out, go with the flow, celebrate just doing what comes easiest.
Mark Radcliff and Marc Riley are, almost inevitably, the exception that proves the rule. As DJs and raconteurs, they're peerless. As THE SHIREHORSES, they're the indie Grumbleweeds. And even a fearless medley of Reef and The Charlatans isn' about to persuade anyone that theyll be jacking dirty in their day jobs.
HURRICANE #1 are the day's first triumph. New single "Rising Sign" and forthcoming heartwrapper "Remote Control" get down like dirty with The Stooges, while Only The Strongest Will Survive" emains a just-shortof-biblical inspirational anthem. The crewd agree and at last it seems like the band's time might have come.
"I'm more confident about what we're doing now than anything I've ever done before," says Hurricanes Andy Bell. "Someone's got to do things as good was My Bloody Valentine and they've had five years, so it's not too presumptuous to step in."
Andy Bell and wife Idha are currently rather more interested in their threeweek-old daughter, Leia. "I was there when she was born," says Andy. "and I held her for 40 minutes and cried. Anything I do musically is never going to match that
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View Image - Enlarge this image. View Image - THE MAKER SIGNING TENT Enlarge this image.
THE MAKER SIGNING TENT
"But," he adds, "this band is still going to destroy anyone who ever doubted us."
REPUBLICA have spent the last ouple of years proving the cynics wrong. And the ease with which ttw whey in over the crowd within, oh, 10 seconds of their first song suggests that it's time to start appreciating their verve. Tim and Johnny handle the acid squelch and guitar flourishes while Saffron remains the only living example of a jet ball with wings. A new song called Try Everything" is the highlight of a set that bobs up by the ceiling.
In the dressing room, Saffron reveals that she's got a stalker who "looks even more like me than I do" and that immediately atter they come off stage, the band are heading off to do "This Morning" with Richard and Judy, but that they promise not to mention shoplifting on live TV.
Johnny admits that working titles for the soon-be-released
"Speed Ballads" LP were "Chinese Food", "Euston, We Have A Problem" and "Nose Up Mother Brown".
A world without Republica would be grey.
Not that pop's most glamorous couple would notice. ROBBIE WILLIAMS and Nicky Appleton sashay backstage like a velvet tornado. Tonight, Robbie will show off his debut solo Number One with "Millennium", the first person ever to knock his girlfriend off the top spot. We've checked. And is Nicky handling it well?
"I can cope," she says, presumably satisfied with being the most beautiful woman within a 500-mile radius. "I'm happy for him."
"It's f***ing brilliant," says Robbie. "I heard that lo Whiley was slagging me off on her show the other day, and I suppose I should be bothered, but the way I look at it, "I've sold two and a half million records, so I can be whoever the f*** I want. It works for me. rm still scared of you, though."
He does three songs and you're left agreeing with his plan. "Let Me Entertain You" is vivacious vaudeville, "Millennium" a predictably unstoppable hit and "Angels" a tingly singalong that somehow always ends up more tender than you imagine. Sure, he's milking it. But this time it's on his own terms. And no one deserves it more than him. Even money on him being Santa Claus by Christmas.
Fuelled by the spirit of the long shot, I ask Nicky if she will marry me. She says, "No." I tell her I'll think about it.
THE DIVINECOMEDY come next and do ths usual on next and do the stuff. "Pop Singer's Fear" promises something. Tomorrow will reveal just what exactly.
MANIC STREET PREACHERS have gone way beyond promises. And a short set on home turf compromising "Australia", "If You Tolerate This.", "Everything Must Go" (retitled "Bobby Gould Must Go" for the night), "Tsunami" and "A Design For Life" isnt about to introduce any spanners into the works. The "Wales, Wales" chants are truly thrilling, crash and burn blitzpop remains entirely irresistible and the whole is playfully invincible. Next year, you'll see how they deal with circling beyond drama and bravado to become what they were when they started. Only this time, the loose cannons have a recoil that can crumple the stars. It's going to be in teresting.
If there's any band who have reached a peak, it's RSH. And, closing proceedings, they more than justify their billing. "Jesus Says" joins their precocious pantheon of classics, while DJ Dick Kurtane introduces audacious scratchy bits to a triumphant "Kung Fu". You get all the hits, including, in "Goldfinger", the third reference of the night to James Bond (following Republica's "From Rush Hour With Love" and Robbie Williams' "You Only Live Twice" homage "Millennium"). And you want the whole day to start all over again.
Radio 1. It's the new rock-n-roll.
Backstage with Sean and flick!l manic
How are you?
Sean: "Fine, thanks."
Nicky: "Yeah, not too bad. A bit tired. It's very early. I wanted to lie in bed and watch the Commonwealth Games this morning, but I had to be dragged down here to do a soundcheck." What are you first impressions of the set-up here?
N: "I actually came to see Super Furry Animals down here, I think it was two years ago, and they did a tent thing. It was only 2,000, but it was fantastic. So I'm sure today will be good as well." What are your memories of Cardiff gigs? The first gig you played in Cardiff..
N: "There were two people there - one was Richey's sister."
S: "At The Square Club"
N: "And the other person there was our manager. Who was actually mental." How much time have you spent in Cardiff in the past?
N: "Absolutely loads. All our shopping trips were down here. James used to bush here all the time. And then we'd busk together."
S: "And we recorded `The Holy Bible' here as well." Can you ra ny gigs that you meet to around here?
N: "Yeah, I remember seeing Sonic Youth in the university. Bob Mould. Sean went to see Gary Numan in St David's Hall." How's it been going for you ouer the last week. Compared to "Everythingmust Go", has it been more relaxed this time?
N: "Not at all. It seems like the most hectic I've ever been in my life. I'm so disorganised. I'm a very organised person and I just don't know where the hell I am. We've been to Madrid and Stockholm and everywhere else in the last couple of days. We had a day off yesterday and now it's back into it."
You can't enjoy not being at home very much..
N: "I hate it. I got home yesterday. I did a bit of cleaning and then I tried to pack and then I wanted to take the dog for a walk and then I wanted to go and see the ice hockey. So it was cramming everything in."
Any great European interviews?
S: "I was asked what was my favourite Black Sabbath line-up and I had to admit that I didn't like Black Sabbath."
N: "Well, it has to be the first line-up. The classic line-up."
S: "That's what I said. it has to be Ozzy. Or nothing." You had some champagne when you were Number One. So have you rediscovered alcohol?
N: "No, it made me feel terrible actually. But it had to be done. It's not very often you're Number One. It's probably our first and last time."
How did yau cope with getting up the next morning?
S: "Actually I got up at 8am. And I did my soundcheck at 'TFI' and went up to 'TOTP' and did it all fine. Very professional."
N: "Whenever Sean gets wrecked he makes a point of showing he's hard the next day. Whereas I'm lying in bed going 'cancel everything'." Whose idea was the Truth Box?
N: "Kind of ours and our product manager, Angie, who we're very close to. We've done ours and they're mainly concerned with James' feet."
Favourite tracks off the album? N: "`My Little Empire'."
S: "'Tsunami'. 'The Everlasting'." Has James learned all his lines?
N: "You ought to have heard him in Ireland. 'Doo da doo doo da doo. la tristessa: Johnny Dankworth and Cleo Laine, he was. Mind you, I couldn't remember the bass parts, so i can't have a go at him." How do you function as a bano just bere you go onstage? How do the nmes manifest themselues?
N: "Toilet for me. You just get very nervous. Number ones." And James?
N: "You hear him doing a bit of an operatic warm-up."
S: "He normally screams his head off."
N: "He does his warm-up and then he has a whisky and a fag."
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