The Welsh punk rockers played a 'short, sharp and sweet' 25-minute set in the early 1990s
It was the night that launched the career of Manic Street Preachers.
Sony Music’s British boss has revealed he signed the Welsh quartet up to Columbia Records after watching their 25-minute set at Moles in the early 1990s.
Rob Stringer, who was a talent scout at the time, said he travelled to the nightclub in Bath to see the band being tipped as Britain’s hottest new punk rock act.
“It was short, sharp and sweet,” Stringer remembers, who wasted no time in recruiting them to Columbia Records — the first signing of his music career.
The legendary music venue in George Street has hosted some of the biggest acts in the world over the years, but few of those gigs have been as influential as that show.
The Manics have since gone on to sell more than 10 million albums worldwide, while Stringer has also climbed to the pinnacle of the industry.
However, he was not the only one to witness that memorable show at Moles.
We’ve spoken to Bath resident and punk fanatic Andy Ounsted, who attended the gig along with two friends after seeing the early hype about the band in NME.
“It was the Motown Junk tour and the single had just come out on Heavenly Records,” said Ounsted, who believes the show was in February around 1991.
“A friend of mine mentioned that they were playing and they were getting some press in the NME at the time following some of their earlier releases.
“With me being a bit of an old punk rocker, they were the antithesis of the whole Madchester music scene and bands likes The Stone Roses and so on.
“I said we should go and check them out, so along we went. We got to Moles about 10pm and it was empty so we were thinking it’s going to be a wash out for them.
“But the place quickly filled up and the gig was brilliant. They were in their full punk rock outfits.”
“One memory I do have is because we got there so early we were just waiting and around and I was coming down the stairs at one point when the whole band were politely waiting at the bottom.
“It was a really good gig but I didn’t take any pictures as I was too busy jumping around.”
According to Andy, a live recording of Strip It Down from the Moles gig was a B-side on the band’s next release, You Love Us.
“That was the first time I saw them live and I only ever saw them with Richey [Edwards] in the band,” he continued.
“I saw them twice after the Moles gig in Bristol when they were touring Generation Terrorist and again when they toured Holy Bible.
“As I was weaned on punk rock and saw they were inspired by bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols, they really appealed to me and they also had that attitude.
“They could actually be quite rude to audiences and courted controversy, but as Moles is small and the audience is in your face – there was no security from what I could remember – they weren’t rude at all that night and seemed to have a good time.”
Andy said Moles had “the knack” of getting bands to play before they became big in the ‘90s, with Supergrass another act he saw at Bath’s popular venue.
Yet the night he saw the Manics was particularly special.
“The audience was just really up for it that night and that made the band play better,” he said.
“They were really tight and James Dean Bradfield was just phenomenal.
“It’s amazing to think we saw them before they became big as although they were getting coverage in the NME, no one quite realised how big they were going to become.”