Manic Street Preachers have spoken to NME.COM following their performance in Havana last night (February 17), which was attended by Cuba's President Fidel Castro.
Rumours had been circulating since the subject was raised at Friday's press conference, when Nicky Wire said that he would be "very honoured" if Cuba's revolutionary leader attended the show. Half an hour before the band arrived on stage at the Karl Marx Theatre Castro was seen on the first floor balcony in full military uniform, flanked by government officials. He stayed to watch the entire performance. Although the band did not refer to his presence, NME.COM has learnt that they were introduced to him before the performance.
They have also been invited for lunch with Castro today (February 18), before returning home on Wednesday. Visibly shocked at the night's events, James Dean Bradfield told NME.COM that he was "buzzing" about meeting the iconic leader. "We're having lunch with the guy tomorrow, I think I'm just going to let Nick do all the talking!"
During the hour-and-a-half set, the Manics premiered nine songs from new album KnowYour Enemy. In addition to the two singles So Why So Sad and Found That Soul, they played the two Cuba-inspired tracks, Let Robeson Sing, a mid-paced rocker with a slight country influence, and Baby Elian, the song inspired by the case of Elian Gonzalez, which, along with Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head, formed Bradfields customary acoustic spot. Other new tracks were Ocean Spray, Year Of Purification and Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children. The two most unusual tracks were played back to back, the full-on seventies pop of Miss Europa Disco Dancer, and Nicky Wire's singing debut, Wattsville Blues.
After the finale of A Design For Life, the band broke with tradition by playing their first ever encore, of Australia followed by Rock and Roll Music, despite Bradfield admitting to having forgotten the words to the latter.
"We don't usually do them as we're such horrible people,' said Bradfield. 'Tonight we've turned into nice people.'
For Kevin Carter and Ocean Spray, the band, who were playing in front of a giant Cuban flag, were joined by a Havana trumpet player.
Wire dedicated You Love Us to Cuban boxer Felix Sabong, who attended the aftershow party at the Havana Hotel Nacional.
Although the tickets were reportedly sold to locals for 25 cents, NME.COM understands that a large number of tickets were distributed to musicians and schools by the Cuban Ministry Of Culture. The Cuban youth, many of them dressed in heavy metal Tshirts, appeared ecstatic at the performance, some getting out of their seats and moving to the front.
The full set list was:
Found That Soul
So Why So Sad
The Masses Against The Classes
If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
Let Robeson Sing
You Stole The Sun From My Heart
Year Of Purification
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
Miss Europa Disco Dancer
Freedom Of Speech Won't Feed My Children
You Love Us
A Design For Life
Rock and Roll Music