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Manic Street Readers - South Wales Echo, 19th June 2009

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Title: Manic Street Readers
Publication: South Wales Echo
Date: Friday 19th June 2009
Writer: James McCarthy


Stars reveal inspiration for latest booking.

High-brow rockers Manic Street Preachers officially opened Cardiff's new £15m library yesterday.

Wearing smart matching black jackets, the literary trio unveiled a slate plaque bearing the band's name which will be put in the foyer of the concrete and glass building.

A second metal plaque - based on the cover of their 1996 single A Design For Life - will be placed in the music section. That bears the legend "Libraries Gave Us Power", a line from the hit song.

Bookworm and bassist Nicky Wire admitted opening libraries was a bit out of the ordinary for the band who have just returned from performing in Denmark.

"It's not something we've done before. We don't tend to do these things, it just seemed like a really good thing to do. Really humble," he said.

He told Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman from behind wraparound Dior shades: "It's the first time we've ever done anything like this. It's really sweet, thanks!" Afterwards the 40-year-old dad of two said: "It makes me feel like I want to go back to school again.

"I used to go to Blackwood library to revise for my O and A-levels. My mother has gone to the library all her life and she would always bring a book back for me and my dad."

Apart from children's books, the first book he remembered reading was George Orwell's Animal Farm.

He said: "That was the first book I read that showed me how powerful a book can be.

"At the moment I would say my favourite book is Straw Dogs, by John Gray, which is a philosophical book. And One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, by Ken Kesey."

He still uses public libraries with his daughter.

After unveiling the plaque, the Blackwood band were treated to a version of A Design For Life performed by Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir.

Grinning widely, Nicky gave the 37 singers a big thumbs-up.

And Manics singer James Dean Bradfield admitted he found the choral cover quite moving. He said: "It was beautiful, especially when it got to the ooo-ooo bit."

Choir chairman Steve Gunning said: "We were only able to rehearse at the last minute. We spent two hours on it in total. We were not 100% confident about it but it sounded OK.

"The fact that they were here made it all the more nerve wracking."

Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman said the words from Design For Life were deemed to be a fitting inscription for the new Central Library, which is home to more than 90,000 books and occupies a five-storey building in the heart of the city.

The band were given a tour of the library which includes a dedicated children's floor, state-of-the-art listening pods, a comprehensive Welsh language section and nautical-themed art from renowned artist Neil Canning.

The library also has a baby grand piano which members of the public can play.

The facility is the city's most sustainable building and has already proved to be a hit with thousands of visitors coming through its doors since it was opened to the public in March.

Cardiff council's executive member for sport and leisure Nigel Howells said: "I may be biased but this library has to be one of the best in the world and having the Manics here today makes it the coolest."

The band all wrote in the library's visitors book.