MANICS IN CUBA – FULL REPORT

NME.COM's man in Havana brings full details from last night's gig, including set-list and James Dean Bradfield's reaction to their newest fan Castro's invitation to lunch...

MANIC STREET PREACHERS have spoken to NME.COM following their performance in HAVANA last night (February 17), which was attended by CUBA’s President FIDEL CASTRO.

You can see the full Manics’ Cuban Press Conference by clicking here

Rumours had been circulating since the subject was raised at Friday’s press conference, when Nicky Wire said that he would be “very honoured” if Cuba’s revolutionary leader attended the show. Half an hour before the band arrived onstage at the Karl Marx Theatre, Castro was seen on the first-floor balcony in full military uniform, flanked by government officials. He stayed to watch

the entire performance. Although the band did not refer to his presence, NME.COM has learnt that they were introduced to him before the performance.

They have also been invited for lunch with Castro today (February 18), before returning home on Wednesday. Visibly shocked at the night’s events, James Dean Bradfield told NME.COM that he was “buzzing” about meeting the iconic leader. “We’re having lunch with the guy tomorrow, I think I’m just going to let Nick do all the talking!”

During the hour-and-a-half set, the Manics premiered nine songs from new album ‘Know Your Enemy’. In addition to the two singles, ‘So Why So Sad’ and ‘Found That Soul’, they played the two Cuba-inspired tracks, ‘Let Robeson Sing’, a mid-paced rocker with a slight country influence, and ‘Baby Elian’, the song inspired by

the case of Elian Gonzalez, which, along with ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’, formed Bradfields customary acoustic spot. Other new tracks were ‘Ocean Spray’, ‘Year Of Purification’ and ‘Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children’. The two most unusual tracks were played back-to-back, the full-on

’70s pop of ‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’, and Nicky Wire’s singing debut, ‘Wattsville Blues’.

After the finale of ‘A Design For Life’, the band broke with tradition by playing their first ever encore, of ‘Australia’ followed by ‘Rock And Roll Music’, despite Bradfield admitting to having forgotten the words to the latter.

“We don’t usually do them. as we’re such horrible people,” said Bradfield. “Tonight we’ve turned into nice people.”

For ‘Kevin Carter’ and ‘Ocean Spray’, the band, who were playing in front of a giant Cuban flag, were joined by a Havana trumpet player.

Wire dedicated ‘You Love Us’ to Cuban boxer Felix Sabong, who attended the aftershow party at the Havana Hotel Nacional.

Although the tickets were reportedly sold to locals for 25 cents, NME.COM understands that a large number of tickets were distributed to musicians and schools by the Cuban

Ministry Of Culture. The Cuban youth, many of them dressed in heavy metal T-shirts, appeared ecstatic at the performance, some getting out of their seats and moving to the front.

The full set list was:

‘Found That Soul’

‘Motorcycle Emptiness’

‘So Why So Sad’

‘Kevin Carter’

‘Ocean Spray’

‘The Masses Against The Classes’

‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’

‘Let Robeson Sing’

‘You Stole The Sun From My Heart’

‘Year Of Purification’

‘Baby Elian’

‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’

‘Miss Europa Disco Dancer’

‘Wattsville Blues’

‘Freedom Of Speech Won’t Feed My Children’

‘You Love Us’

‘Motown Junk’

‘A Design For Life’

ENCORES

‘Australia’

‘Rock And Roll Music’

Next week’s issue of NME (cover date March 3, on sale in shops throughout the UK on February 28) will be a full-on Manics special.

And for the first time in the paper’s history, fans from outside the UK will be able to pre-order priority copies of the issue.

Each copy will cost #5 – equivalent to roughly US$7.15 – inclusive of postage and packaging. The offer is only available to non-UK residents – to order your copy now, [url=]click here.

Manics tribute band Generation Preachers will play a special set for NME and NME.COM in London tonight at Bar Cubana, on the corner of Baylis Road and Lower Marsh, SE1 a short walk from Waterloo Station.