the manic street preachers

Years ago, I tuned guitars for a band called The Family Cat. They were good – never made a record that really reflected this accurately – but good, really quite good. All in all I did something like 320 gigs with the band, humping gear and waiting for things to break. Over time they were supported by their fair share of artists who went on to achieve success to a greater or lesser degree, the likes of PJ Harvey, Blur, Carter USM, and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, even glorious one-hit wonders like White Town got a look-in. The one band that really sticks in the memory, however, are the Manic St Preachers.

If memory serves me correctly, it all started when the band received a letter from guitarist Richey, which went something along the lines of “Hello. We are Welsh punk. We are great. Can we support you?” Ever willing to oblige, they were provided with a pair of support slots, one at the Polytechnic of Central Wales and a second at Bristol’s long-running Fleece & Ferkin venue.

They were absolutely shocking, quite possibly the worst band I’d ever seen. Apart from all the faux-punk histrionics, Richey was obviously miming, or at least turned down so low in the mix that no-one could hear him. All this from a band no-one had ever heard of. To be honest, I really didn’t get it at all.

At the second gig I decided to give them another chance, but twenty minutes into the set my mind was made up. They were worthless, and I was going to let people know. I returned to the dressing room, almost apoplectic with rage and indie snobbery. “They’re shit,” I compained to the nearest person, before launching into a thoughtfully prepared critique of the band’s art. “They’re shit. The drummer is a midget. They’re shit. The singer is hopeless. They’re shit. The guitarist can’t play. They’re shit. The bass player is a cunt. They’re shit.” And so on and so on.

So anyway, the Manics finished their set, wandered backstage, and turned off the tape recorder. Yes, turned off the tape recorder. This is in the days before a crew of nine hundred and their own toilets at Glastonbury of course, they’re by themselves, and they’ve decided to record their show on a boom-box left in the dressing room. A boom-box that I’ve been sitting next to for ten minutes.

Suffice to say, you couldn’t hear much on the tape apart from me, and I kept an extremely low profile for the rest of the evening despite the apparent strength of my convictions. Years later I met singer James Dean Bradfield in a hotel bar and was too scared to bring the subject up, but I guess it’s safe now – this happened well over a decade ago, after all.

Besides, they are shit. Apart from The Holy Bible. I liked some of that album very much. Oh, and La Tristessa Durea. That was nice too.


  1. I remember quite liking The Family Cat, back in the early 90s – I certainly had one of their singles ‘Remember what it is to be loved’ or summat. Good guitars…

  2. Though I agree the records were different from live shows i think Magic happens is a great LP (and Furthest actually) Were you the chubby bloke with long ginger hair smoking fags at the side of the stage? My mate fancied you.

  3. “the chubby bloke with long ginger hair smoking fags” – that’ll be on my gravestone, I swear. And now I find out that someone fancies me, but a decade too late to do anything about it. Lovely.

  4. Yup, with the exception of La Tristesse (which made an appearance on my Summer Burn CD) and Motorcycle Emptiness, the Manics were shit.

    I went to see them at the Cambridge Corn Exchange (or whatever it was called) just after they’d released their debut album and they were fucking bollocks – so bollocks that the crowd started heckling them, and *they* were supposed to be fans.

    The only good bits of the night were seeing a very fresh and unknown at that time Credit to the Nation and sadly underestimated metal-samplerific Blaggers ITA.

  5. yup, I saw the manics right after buying and liking their 1st single and they were crap on stage

    everybody agrees on that
    bummer! no controversy!

  6. God, I saw the Manics at Glastonbury (sadly not in the flesh).

    it was then it finally sunk in just how fucking achingly shit they are. James Dean Bradfield may as well have dropped his pants and cracked one off on stage there and then for all the artistic merit it was worth.

  7. I was at the Poly of Wales gig (I commented on Vicky’s blog, and she pointed me here) and thought they were diabolical. My favourite bit was when they did the “oh-we’re-so-punk” “instrument trashing” – the bass player LAID HIS BASS ON THE FLOOR AND POGOED AROUND IT.
    Mind you, there was a lot of local loyalty to them – some time later on the drummer of Swervedriver knocked a speaker over and one of the guitarists said “I bet this wouldn’t happen to the Manic Street Preachers”… Cue much hissing and muttering among the audience…
    Loved the Family Cat – I used to work with the guy who does their website. Small world!

  8. Years ago, my dad used to work for Scottish Television and, being a TV company, bands and their managers would always send CDs of their stuff, with a view to it possibly being used on the shows they produced.

    Anyway, one day he brought me a box of CDs home that weren’t required anymore and there was (amongst literally hundreds of absolute shite) a promo Family Cat CD. I’ve still got it and I’m looking at it right now.

    It’s a four track CD with Steamroller (radio edit), What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Across The Universe and Steamroller.

    Top quality stuff. Oh, and it’s covered in stickers that say “Beer Davies Publicity”.

    I realise that this is a very dull post indeed but I thought I’d share that with you.

  9. You have to mention those Welsh punk mad lads Picture Frame Seduction. Idylic sound mad hardcore with a hidden message of fortune and bad taste.

  10. On for fuck’s sake…

  11. Jesus, why can’t people spell the name ‘Richey’? Just how hard is it? There’s no fuckin’ T in Richey!

    Plus you seem to be a bit of a knobber, but I guess you can’t help it.

  12. Hah. Does the fact that I’ve never heard of The Family Cat say ANYTHING? I think it does.
    You love us, y’know.

  13. Who the hell are the Family Cat?

  14. ho ho ho, another failed, talent free musician having a pop at the manics? can’t you be original enough to have a go at someone else? your tastes and abilities are obviously of a standard to see you become the editor of Q magazine or Uncut any day now. good luck, toss ace.

  15. The Cat were not famous (Ten points for pointing out the obvious Becky-we’ve all heard of 911 or 5ive…and your point IS?…)but put a smile on my face each time I saw them (about 11 or 12 times I think). Any success they got was purely through thier music, not by carving fuck out of their arms, jumping off a bridge or being outrageously Welsh. The Munting Shyte Pikers were and remain cack live.
    One of the best gigs ever was The Cat at the Camden Underworld supported by “the bird that did the backing vocals on Colour me Grey”…a certain PJ Harvey, November 1991. £6. Bargain.
    The Cat were cool. They epitomised all that was cool about the pre-Brit-Pop bastardisation of the “Alternative” scene. It’s a disgrace that no one (hardly) listens to them anymore.
    And Lee. Oh Lee. Why don’t you carve “FOR REAL” into your forearm and wreck your bedroom?You sound like the urksome little smug cunt at school that would point at the poor kids cos your toys were better. It’s called “feedom of expression”. Grow up.

  16. And Matt, who gives a toss how to spell Richie anyhow? Is that seriously the best comment you can make?How about saying WHY you like MSP instead of coming up with the sort of insipid, vacuous comment that only a true “knobber” would? You pedantic little shit.

  17. u have a go at people for being manics fans yet you are ramming it down our throats for liking them how “shit” they are, well, what the fuck have u tossers ever done? nothing. if u met any of the manics you wouldnt say any of this shit you little faggots, with your hilarious comments about Richey, would you? and i seriously doubt any of you could hold a guitar right yet alone play in front of thousands. fucking tossers