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Just Another Manic Wednesday - Sunday Mail, 6th October 2002

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Title: Just Another Manic Wednesday
Publication: Sunday Mail
Date: Sunday 6th October 2002
Writer: Gavin Pearson

Manic Street Preachers frontman James Dean Bradfield goes solo on Wednesday in front of just 250 fans at a secret gig in Scotland as part of the Up Close series of concerts. Gavin Pearson of Clyde 1 asked the king of Wales how he fancied his chances going ten numbers with a crowd of Scots rock fans.

You've always gone down well in Scotland, so do you think being Welsh has given you a characteristic which has helped you appeal to us and we appeal to you?

People often shy away from the truth but, when we play in Glasgow, it is very like Cardiff because they are both big weekend towns and people come from out of town and they just go ballistic. People are just much better value for money when they come to Cardiff or Glasgow gigs because they come just to get *****d up basically. That just makes it easier for everybody. It makes for a better atmosphere and everybody is just so open to having a good time. I know it sounds simple and there's not much science in what I've said but it's the truth.

You're touring the UK on your greatest hits tour. How much of a highlight is it to be playing on December 4 In Scotland?

I know it sounds convenient, but one of the best gigs of my life was played in the SECC. I'm not particularly known to say on stage "tonight is one of the best concerts I've ever played, thank you" but that is exactly what I did about four or five years ago at the SECC on the Everything Must Go tour. It was just a complete bunch of mentalists going mad and we were feeding off the crowd that night. I'm feeling a bit scared because it is going to be hard to live up to that gig but I'm looking forward to it, don't worry.

You're on your own for the Up Close gig in front of just 250 people on Wednesday. How experienced are you at playing live without the band?

I'm used to playing a couple of acoustic songs on the radio, but I'll be doing something like eight or ten songs on my own in front of an audience. That means I've got to try to be charming and witty, I've got to slow down how I speak in between songs and be anecdotal. It's going to be a bit tough for me, so I'm going to ask Nick for a couple of back-up lines for my in-between song banter, definitely.

Is it a bit like having to do after-dinner speaking or something like that?

Yeah, after-dinner speaking with someone having a religious fever on stage, speaking in tongues! I must get some elocution lessons before it, I think.

There's only going to be 250 people there. Does the number of people in the crowd make any difference?

Oh yes, it's much easier playing in front of a crowd of 10,000 than 250, because you can just focus on a big wash of mops of hair. But, as soon as you get on stage in front of just 250 people, suddenly you spot just one pair of eyes and you fall to pieces. I think I'm going to get someone to paint a spot on the back wall, so I can just look at that. In a crowd of 250, you start giving personalities to the faces in the crowd, so you feel a bit more vulnerable.

How will you feel five minutes before you take to the stage?

I'll probably feel nervous as hell really, but I won't show it. It's what I was built for - I'll get through it.

And how do you feel once you're up there on stage?

It's a bit like being in a fight, which you feel like you're going to win. Even when I am nervous, secretly I do look forward to it, because you feel like you're in a fight and you've just got to end up on top of it.

You're pretty much a world champion when it comes to the fight - with the experiences you've had. You've always won the fights, haven't you?

If we're going to go with the analogy, we're not undisputed champions, but we probably hold one of the belts - WBO or something like that.

What was it like playing before nearly 60,000 people at the Millennium Stadium gig?

Excuse me, it was 64,000! It broke the record for the biggest indoor concert in Europe, mate! Sorry, I had to get that in.

It must be something you're hugely proud of?

It was cool to do that concert because it felt like we were coming back to the place where we had started. It was great to feel we had achieved everything we wanted to. Doing it in front of people we'd grown up with was cool.

Do you watch the video of that amazing gig much?

No - I don't want to become frightened by my own dance moves. Once I start analysing, I become paralysed by fear.