NME.COM was on the spot to witness the historic gig...

MANIC STREET PREACHERS made their hotly-anticipated return to the live arena last night (February 17) at the KARL MARX THEATRE in HAVANA, CUBA, with President FIDEL CASTRO among the audience who witnessed the hour-long set.

Five thousand fans paid 25 cents each to witness the band’s first gig of the year and get a preview of material from their forthcoming sixth album, ‘Know Your Enemy’.

As previously reported on NME.COM yesterday, the band arrived in Cuba on Wednesday (February 14), and Nicky Wire told reporters: “We’ve just got a lot of respect for the Cuban people and the Cuban culture, and we wanted to do something really different this time.”

The band had indicated that they planned to play the track ‘Baby Elian’ at the gig, referring to the custody dispute last year between US relatives and the Cuban father of a six-year-old shipwreck survivor Elian Gonzalez, which contains the lyrics: “Kidnapped to the promised land/America, the devil’s playground”.

The boy has since returned with his father to Cuba.

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 overseas will be able to pre-order priority copies of the issue.

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

The band perform their first UK gigs of the year in March and April, appearing at Manchester Apollo on March 27 and 28, Brixton Academy on 30 and 31, and Glasgow Barrowland on April 2 and 3.

The singles ‘So Why So Sad’ and ‘Found That Soul’ are released simultaneously on February 26, and the album ‘Know Your Enemy’ follows on March 19.