Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield Lifts The Lid On His Cardiff Life.
It's been more than three years since the Manic Street Preachers last played a gig in Cardiff. Back in December 2007 everyone's favourite rock 'n' roll renegades blazed a fiery trail across the Cardiff International Arena stage to promote their Send Away the Tigers album.
The Manics will return to the scene of many past glories after this week announcing a new show at the 5,000 capacity arena in May - the culmination of the campaign for their hugely successful Postcards From A Young Man album.
Cardiff-based frontman James Dean Bradfield reveals to Dave Owens how the Welsh capital has played and continues to play an integral part in his life and that of his band
Hi James, so you're returning to Cardiff International Arena after a few years, why the delay?
I'm not sure about the exact figure but I think we've played the CIA 11 times now and sometimes you just have to have a break from a venue. In the interim we've played all over Wales, Swansea's Brangwyn Hall, Venue Cymru in Llandudno and The Newport Centre, so it was the right time to spread the shows around. Now we can't wait to get back there.
Do you have some great memories of past CIA shows?
Lots. The first time we played there was supporting Oasis in 1996. That's a great memory considering it was at the height of Oasis' fame around the time of the (What's The Story) Morning Glory? album. It felt great that night walking out on stage in front of a home audience. When you see that crowd moving and swelling before you it's like witnessing Dante's Inferno! Then not long after we played our first headline show, around the time of the Everything Must Go album. I also remember playing a memorable show with Catatonia, in 1997 I think. My old music teacher reviewed the gig, for who I can't remember, but he gave Catatonia a better review than us!
What can we expect from your show? There are rumours of songs that haven't been played for a while.
Yes, it's true. We'll be looking to dust down some old songs that haven't been in the set for a long time. We always have lots of fans wanting to hear songs such as Life Becoming A Landslide from Gold Against The Soul and PCP from The Holy Bible. These are songs that we haven't played for 10 years. I think we'll have about five songs in the set that haven't been given an airing for a while.
You've come a long way since you're first Cardiff gig at The Square Club (then on Westgate Street in the city centre) in 1988.
You could say that. We played in front of three people that night. But we've played lots of Cardiff venues - The Great Hall (at Cardiff University), the Hanging Gardens (Now Solus at Cardiff University) and the Millennium Stadium, of course. All the time. I have big memories of coming here. I remember trekking from Blackwood to the New Ocean Club (then situated on Rover Way, near to Rumney River in East Cardiff) in the late '80s to see Siouxsie And The Banshees. It sticks in my mind because Siouxsie had broken her leg and was carried on stage wearing a luminous skeleton outfit! It was a great gig. It was also the first time I had been to the club and I remember walking through an allotment to try and find the venue. It was a bit out of the way, especially as I had got a bus into Cardiff from home, then walked a couple of miles from the city centre to find it. I saw lots of gigs there, Sigue Sigue Sputnik, The Hoodoo Gurus, Spear Of Destiny and The Waterboys. There were highlights like seeing The Alarm at St David's Hall, amazing shows at The Polytechnic Of Wales (now University of Glamorgan) from The Housemartins, Soup Dragons and My Bloody Valentine. It was all an utter adventure. That's why I have complete and endless respect for those fans that follow us around. We have a hardcore of around 50 fans that will turn up everywhere. I remember we played in Moscow and there they were. Which puts my trek from Blackwood to the New Ocean Club in some kind of perspective.
Your last Cardiff show was supporting Paul McCartney at the Millennium Stadium last summer - that must have been a highlight.
Incredibly so. When it was offered to us we had no hesitation in saying yes. Forget the Royal Wedding and hoo-hah that will surround it, there are only few people who you can term royalty left, and Sir Paul is one of them. He carries a certain eminence that you can't deny. He was on stage for something like three hours, played more than 30 songs and barely had a sip of water. Absolutely unbelievable. To watch him from the side of the stage, I've never been so impressed in my life.
Did you get to meet him?
(Laughs ruefully) Erm, yes we did, but I made a complete a*** of myself. The first thing I thought of saying to him was, 'I bought your Pipes Of Peace album from the Record Club (1980s mail order service) in 1983. I should have brought that with me for you to autograph.' He raised his eyebrows and looked at me really strange as if to say (adopts a pinpoint accurate Scouse accent), 'You taking the p*** lad?' I was mortified. I could hear the words coming out of my mouth, but it was too late by then!
Talking of records, you're a regular shopper at Spillers Records in Cardiff I understand.
There are three places in Cardiff that would break my heart if they closed down - Cardiff Indoor Market, Trade Street Caf (one of James' favourite caffs) and the other is Spillers. I've been there this week to buy the new album from PJ Harvey and the new one from Warpaint (all girl US indie rock outfit causing waves). Ashlii (Spillers owner) is great, she orders in everything I'm after.
What was officially opening Cardiff Central Library like?
It seemed apt. 'Libraries gave us power' (that line is etched into the library's wall) is a line from Design For Life and books have always played a big part in our lives. A book called The Guitar played a big part in my life. It had a piece from Keith Richards who explained his life was changed when he found a guitar at the top of his parents' stairs. He said when he strummed it sounded like an echo chamber reverberating down the stairs. That's when I knew I wanted to pick up a guitar.