Forever Delayed: Manics play Cardiff's Clwb Ifor Bach for first time

By James McCarthy
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Manic Street Preachers played Cardiff's famous Clwb Ifor Bach for the first time on Thursday

It's been 32 years since the Manic Street Preachers were last on the bill to play Clwb Ifor Bach.

But days before that show, they had to cancel to sign a record deal in London.

On Thursday night the Blackwood rockers finally graced the stage as part of the BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, running in Cardiff until 3 April.

Last time they were second on the bill under Welsh language band Tynal Tywyll for an anti-poll tax show organised by Plaid Cymru.

Image source, @huwstephens
Image caption,
Nicky Wire (left), with the BBC's Huw Stephens was all smiles before the show

But after opening the set on Thursday with Motorcycle Emptiness and From Despair to Where, singer James Dean Bradfield greeted the crowd saying: "Thank you for coming to the gig that we never played, that we should have played and now we are playing.

"The last time I was here my friend was trying to do a hundred press ups in the middle of the floor.

"Or perhaps it was someone closer to me than my friend. Perhaps it was my wife. I'm not sure."

Overjoyed to see their heroes in such an intimate venue, rapturous fans shouted requests to the band.

"We're not a human jukebox you know!" said the singer before refusing to play 1994's Faster.

But they did play numbers from their back catalogue including A Design For Life, You Stole the Sun from my Heart, Everything Must Go, If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next and You Love Us.

Image source, @mintysgigguide
Image caption,
The lucky fans able to get tickets were over the moon to be there

Book publisher Ashley Drake organised the 1990 gig when he was working for Plaid Cymru in Aberystwyth.

The Manics were recommended to him by a Blackwood colleague who knew the band.

The 56-year-old, from Cardiff, said: "We went on her word, she knew they were getting a really strong following so we put them at number two on the bill.

"We did not have that much money so we offered them £50 and they said, 'Fine'."

But as the big day approached Mr Drake came home to a message on his answering machine.

Image source, CLWB IFOR BACH
Image caption,
They were supposed to play back in 1990 but had to cancel to sign a record deal

It was before mobile phones were in everyone's pocket.

"There was this guy saying it was Nicky from the Manics," Mr Drake said.

"He was lovely and really apologetic and said they were really sorry, they couldn't come because they had a really firm offer of a record deal that was too good to turn down, and they were going to London to play a gig and sign after."

That was the first and last time he spoke to the bassist.

It was "lovely," he said, they were finally playing the venue on Cardiff's Womanby Street.

"I'm sure they had thought they had probably missed out," Mr Drake said.

"I'm sure they are pretty chuffed. I think it will have huge cultural, political and social resonance for them."

Image caption,
Cardiff-born Radio 6 presenter Huw Stephens was expecting an "amazing" atmosphere

Manics fan, Daniel Minty, runs Minty's Gig Guide and went to the show.

The 32-year-old said: "It means a lot to me, I'm from Blackwood, and they went to the same school as my mum.

"It's a massive deal for me having run the gig guide for the last six years."

He was over the moon the 6 Music Festival was in Cardiff.

"The arrival of 6 Music has blown everything up and is showing off the strength of the Welsh music industry," he said.

Image caption,
Only a few hundred tickets were available for the gig

BBC 6 Music and Radio Wales DJ Huw Stephens missed the original show because he was nine.

"I didn't know how to brush my teeth at the time," the 40-year-old said.

Tonight he introduced the band.

He said it was "crazy" they had not played until now.

"They are a band that have played so many venues across Wales and the world," he said.

Tickets were few and far between for Thursday's gig.

Image source, Ashley Drake
Image caption,
Ashley Drake organised the original gig the Manics were never able to play

"When the free tickets went out, that was it," Mr Stephens, who lives in Cardiff, said.

"They are like gold dust."

That didn't stop fans without tickets queueing, hoping to catch a glimpse of their idols.

Before the show Clwb chief executive Guto Brychan was expecting a "special occasion".

They were, he said, one of the few bands that did not play Clwb before hitting the big time.

"To have them playing at this point, it is a very big deal," he said.

The 6 Music Festival is part of BBC 100 - a year of special content, events and ambitious education initiatives to inform, educate and entertain the nation, marking 100 years of the BBC in 2022.