Manic Street Preachers’ frontman James Dean Bradfield has hailed the work of those who made the Newbridge Memo regeneration happen.
Speaking exclusively to Caerphilly Observer ahead of the band’s homecoming show at Cardiff Castle on June 5 (see review below), Bradfield reflected on the importance of miners’ institutes.
Bradfield was involved in the multi-million pound project to renovate the Memo and played at the official opening after working there as a teen.
He said: “My part in helping the Memo has been very small compared to other peoples’.
“There are people like Howard Stone - the guy that’s driven the regeneration project - who have just lived every moment of trying to earn and get every penny to restore the Memo.
“I love the people that gave me a chance down there, I love the experience there and I love what it stands for.
“Those summers between the ages of 16 and 19 when you’re just trying to get extra cash, and for me I was just trying to earn money to buy instruments and subsidise being in a band, and no-one would give me a job except Newbridge Memo.
“Anybody with a shred of social history awareness in their heads knows what a towering achievement those miners’ institutes were.
“Miners taking money out of their own pay packets to build cathedrals of leisure and education for themselves.
“Their investment, monetarily wise, emotionally and ethically, was gigantic and it’s a shining example of what collective consciousness can do to try and raise people’s lives up.”
The Manic Street Preachers played Cardiff Castle as part of their Holy Bible tour - 20 years after the seminal record was released.
Bradfield said: “Any gig in Cardiff is a homecoming for me. I live in Cardiff and it’s very connected to The Valleys, there’s so many people who come down from The Valleys for the concerts.”
The band recently returned from America where they appeared on US television for the first time on the James Corden Late Late Show.
Bradfield said the tour was “revitalising” and “a chance to really get into The Holy Bible again before we did this British tour”.
He said: “When we were in America, The Holy Bible was number one in the vinyl charts in Britain. It took The Holy Bible 20 years to get some kind of number one spot.
“For an album that barely had a hit single on it, it’s amazing how many The Holy Bible has sold around the world.
“It became a word of mouth cult classic that subsequently went onto sell a lot of records long after its release.
“You always hope that there’s going to be something that endures and has an afterlife after its initial release, which is almost like a litmus test of how good it is. It’s really gratifying and quite amazing really.”
Bradfield said he doesn’t think about the difficult time surrounding its release, with bandmate Richey Edwards’ disappearance, when playing the album.
He said: “People vicariously want you to be emotionally traumatised when you play these songs but that’s not the way I approach it.
“I approach playing The Holy Bible in a technical sense because when you’re playing the album in its entirety on a live stage it’s very hard.
“It’s a very acutely angled and obtuse record to play musically, there’s lots of different time signatures on there and it’s very, very ferocious and detailed.”