50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #29

In a rare example of me being ahead of the curve, I’d not only heard of but had seen Manic Street Preachers a good while before they got anywhere near being famous.

For they had played as a support act at a gig we put on at the Students’ Union.

This was in the year before I became Social Secretary, and so I had nothing to do with them being booked.

And I can’t pretend I was in slightest bit enamoured with them when they did play; I can’t put my finger on quite how I came to this opinion, but I was pretty sure that at least 50% of the four-piece band were miming.

A few months later, when I had taken up my elected post, I was told that we had the chance to book them again.

“Absolutely not”, I said. “They were awful last time they played here, and I can’t see them having got any better.”

Oh, how wrong can a man be.

The Entertainments Manager, who had the final say over who got booked and who did not, decided – rightly, wisely – to ignore my input.

And so, the Friday night they were booked to headline (I say headline, obviously my indie disco was the main draw) rolled around, and as the crew set up, I was charged with looking after the talent, and on this occasion this meant taking them to the college refectory for some food.

We queued with the rest of the students, the band fitting in pretty well to be fair, and then we sat, the four of them with their bordering-on inedable meals in front of them.

Richey noticed I didn’t have any food. “Why aren’t you eating?” he asked.

“Budget doesn’t extend to me, just you chaps,” I replied.

“Have you eaten today?” (I was a lot thinner then than I am these days, or he probably wouldn’t have asked.)

“No, I’ll get a bag of chips on the way home.”

He pushed his plate into the middle of the table.

“Here, have some of mine”, he said, and so it was that I shared a cheese salad with Richey Manic. (Sharing a Cheese Salad with Richey Manic so nearly ended up being the name of this blog.)

This in no way colours my reappraisel of them when they played that night, but everything clicked and fell into place, I suddenly got them. And if they had been miming the first time, they definitely weren’t miming now.

In the years after, when I was working in retail in Cardiff, I sold Nicky Wire the entire Echo & The Bunnymen back-catalogue, and James Dean Bradfield some athlete’s foot powder (in different shops, of course).

But I never again crossed paths with Richey, who went missing a few years later in 1995, never to be found again. He was pronounced “presumed dead” in 2008.

Motorcycle Emptiness remains their finest moment, but for my money this remains them at their most angry, visceral and magnificent. Lyrics all by Richey (I think!):

Manic Street Preachers – Motown Junk

More soon.

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19 thoughts on “50 Ways To Prove I’m Rubbish #29”

  1. I’m trying to get my head round the idea of a rock star eating a cheese salad before a gig.

    1. Yeh, I know, I know. Thought it might attract a few too many self-harming Manics fans at the time, so ruled it out. I’d be grateful for those extra readers these days. Ho hum!

  2. Believe it or not, I thought the Manics were crap first time I saw them. They weren’t miming but I did walk out halfway through. They looked and sounded like a bad Guns ‘n’ Roses tribute act – and this was the tour for the second album so they were already well established by then.

    They’re playing a free gig for NHS staff in Cardiff in December. Strangely, all the closet Manics ‘fans’ who’d forgotten they still existed have crawled out of the woodwork and grabbed tickets within seconds of them becoming available, which means I’ve missed out, despite being NHS staff in Cardiff! Freeloading bastards!

    1. Oh that sucks. Since that first time, I’ve seen them several times, and always had a really good night. (That’s not much help, is it…?)

      1. I have seen them a few times since and they were excellent. Last time was at the Newport Centre in front of adoring long-term fans, friends and family.

    1. I hadn’t but those rumours have been going around for years; I’m surprised it’s taken this long for someone to squeeze a book out of it to be honest.

    2. Ah, the good old Daily Mail, the most reliable source of real news anywhere on the planet. I’m surprised they haven’t said he was murdered by immigrants. Oh wait, that’s next week’s Exclusive!

  3. I saw them before they got big. They were mouthy and arrogant in the press, declaring themselves yo be the most important band since 1977, how their debut album would sell 10 million, and then they’d split up.
    Got a couple of their EPs (one of which contained the monster Motown Junk), and then they decided to come to sleepy old Reading on their tour.
    My self and a mate decided if they were to be believed, this would be our only chance of seeing them live – it was our Lesser Free Trade Hall moment. It wasn’t.

    I did give James Dean Bradfield a flyer for my mate’s band on the way out – “we’ve come to see you, now you can come and see us”.
    No swagger, no bluster, no arrogance: “sorry mate, we’ll be up in Liverpool that night”.
    He did give me a plectrum and two guitar strings though.
    “James Dean Bradfield Gave Me His G-String” – another great name for a blog

    1. Haha, yeh that beats a crappy cheese salad, whichever type of G-string it was.

      I loved that first album, and I think ended up buying every single released from it. When the 2nd album arrived, I briefly wished they had stopped at one, but it grew on me. The 3rd album is an absolute beast though (you’ll notice I’m not mentioning titles, as a series about The Diminishing Return of the Ageing Manics sounds like a semi- decent idea for a series….

      1. I think they’ve done better than many of their contemporaries in recent years. Send Away The Tigers was a brilliant album.

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