Speaker by Various Artists

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Music Extra: Manic Street Preachers British and Irish Lions Tour

by Renee Jones

Who knew that the Manic Street Preachers were rugby fans? Not I, although I twigged when I spotted this tour announcement on their website (perhaps their being Welsh should have been a hint):

Manic Street Preachers are pleased to confirm that whilst they are in Australia for the British and Irish Lions tour, they will also be playing a show at the Vector Arena, Auckland New Zealand on 2 July 2013. This will see the band's first ever performance in New Zealand.

And this is confirmed on Australia’s FasterLouder website:

Welsh alt-rockers the Manic Street Preachers have announced two Australian shows, for no other reason than to watch a couple of rugby games while they are here … The Manics have announced their return to coincide with the forthcoming test matches between the Australian Wallabies and the British and Irish Lions. Drawing a fairly long bow, the self proclaimed "massive rugby fans" said that the tour will be a great chance for them to watch some sport and "play a selection of our greatest hits to our Australian fans and the thousands of Lions fans travelling down under".

Although sports lovers shouldn’t expect any Meatloaf-style half time entertainment from The Preachers, as both shows are scheduled to happen the night before each rugby match on Friday, June 28 at Festival Hall in Melbourne and Friday, July 5 at The Hordern in Sydney.

I’d fired off a few questions to the band hoping for a bit of an email interview; having not heard back (and I’m ok with that – they’re in the middle of a tour!) I thought I’d snoop around the internet to see what they’ve been up to lately. This is, after all, their first visit to New Zealand, so unless any local fans have trekked overseas to see them (please share if you have), we don’t have any previous live history to go on.

What intrigues me about the band is that they seem like a bunch of interesting individuals with wide-ranging cultural (and sporting) interests. I’d say a beer and a chat with them would be entertaining. Bassist Nicky Wire is quite comfortable critiquing Welsh poetry.

And here are a few snippets from their Facebook page (I’m not sure who writes it, but it would seem to be one of the band):

 - Hearing 'Fire Woman' by the Cult on Dr Who tonight was a magical tv moment! xx

 - Loved 'the high art of the low countries' on bbc4 - Andrew Graham-Dixon is such a great presenter of art on the tv x

 - Always a pleasure having a chat with the mighty Talksport. I can feel a radio tour diary coming on. X

Yep, bassist Nicky Wire chats on sport radio; you can hear the interview here. It starts with the Manic Street Preachers covering The The’s great song ‘This Is The Day’. Also:

 - "Technology brought in the mass media and technology is now taking it away." -David Hockney.

Must admit I quite like the x’s at the end of most posts too. Quite sweet.

They’re also quite prolific, with not one but two new albums apparently in the pipeline. Garnered from the NME:

Frontman James Dean Bradfield revealed the news to reporters at the Ivor Novello Awards in London on Thursday (May 16), and let slip that the first LP will be almost completely acoustic…Bradfield also said that the acoustic record would feature Richard Hawley, while the second album would be "more aggressive and experimental". The band recently revealed that they are working on a new song called 'Four Lonely Roads' with folk singer Cate Le Bon.

A movie, Culture, Alienation, Boredom and Despair, was released in November last year to mark the 20th anniversary of their album Generation Terrorists, and is a look at the early years of the Manics – including, according to Caroline Frost of the Huffington Post, "... the bitchiness of the Welsh scene (and) their 'playing into the political void."

Prior to this was the brave Journal for Plague Lovers, released in 2009, a recording of songs based around the lyrics of their much-missed bandmate Richey Edwards, who disappeared in 1995 and was finally declared presumed dead by his family in 2008. This was well received, reminding fans of the important part Edwards played in the first ten or so years of the band’s existence, and his continuing influence on the remaining band members. In 2010 they released their tenth album Postcards From a Young Man – critically acclaimed after admittedly a bit of a dry patch in terms of reviews in the years before Journal.

Manic Street Preachers this year contributed a new track to BBC Radio’s annual Wales Music Day, explaining:

The track we've recorded for Welsh Music Day is an instrumental called 'See it like Sutherland' - influenced by Cocteau Twins and Colourbox and it’s rather beautiful xx

Kind of a cool contemporary event to know about for anyone of Welsh ancestry … like me and most other folk named Jones.

So that’s a bit of a quick foray into recent activities of the Manics; and thanks to rugby we’ll get to see them play for the first time next Tuesday. If recent reviews are to be believed, they put on a pretty decent live show – it’s unlikely that they’ll get through 38 songs as they did at their 2011 stadium spectacular at London’s O2 arena but I am expecting a few crowd-pleasers.

Any songs you’re hoping to hear?

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