Stereophonics have finally responded to accusations of racism from English fans who attended their sell-out gig at Morfa Stadium, Swansea (May 31).
Some fans of the band claimed that Welsh flag-waving, coupled with video clips of Wales beating England at rugby were inciting the crowd against the English present at the show.
One NMEreader even claimed the gig “bordered on fascism”.
On Friday afternoon last week, Stereophonics‘ press office issued the following statement: “Stereophonics, who are presently in the USA where they have received rapturous support following their concert at Irving Plaza in NY, are disappointed but not entirely surprised by the continuing agenda of the NME to knock the success of British bands. The ploy this time seems to be to try and inspire racial hatred.
“The NMEhave decided to focus their attention on the most successful single concert by a British band in recent years. Fifty-thousand fans packed Morfa Stadium in Swansea to see the Stereophonics. No supporting bill was announced before the tickets sold out so it was hardly surprising that most of the fans came from Wales, the band’s home country.
“The Morfa Stadium concert was more than just a gig, it was a celebration of Welsh sporting achievement. Morfa Stadium had come to the end of its useful life and is to be demolished.
“The Stereophonics event, therefore, was a tribute to the success of Welsh athletes including Colin Jackson and Iwan Thomas who trained there and the many British athletes including Daley Thompson who achieved international success there.
“Stereophonics, like millions of people all over the world, are sports fans. They love rugby, which is considered to be the Welsh national game.
“In April 1999, Kelly Jones was asked by BBC Wales to write a musical bed for a trailer to the England v Wales game in the Five Nations Cup.
“He wrote the song ‘As Long As We Beat The English’ as a Welshman expressing the feelings of many Welsh rugby fans. The long-standing traditional rivalry on the field between England and Wales is well-known, so when Wales beat the English that day, Kelly‘s song became an anthem to match the English‘s ‘Three Lions’.
“At Morfa Stadium, the winning try by Scott Gibbs and two other tries by Welsh rugby icon Gareth Edwards were played on the screens and the crowd responded with nationalistic pride, as they do in England every time England score a goal on the football pitch or a try on the rugby field.
“In response to the NME, Stereophonics have never waved a Welsh flag onstage unless it had been thrown there by a fan, which happens at gigs by all Welsh bands playing all over the world.
“Yes, they are proud to be Welsh but they are also proud to represent Great Britain around the world as Best British Newcomers (Brit Awards, 1998), Best British Band (Kerrang! Awards, 1999) and one of the best 12 British albums (Mercury Music Prize, 1999).”
NMEEditor Steve Sutherland said: “Just for the record, NMEhas never accused Stereophonics of racism. It’s just that racism is such a delicate and dangerous issue that we were hoping the band would realise this and kill any misconceived speculation stone dead a little earlier. Their silence up until now, I must admit, mystified us.
As for accusing NMEof trying to “inspire racial hatred”, that’s just plain silly. Surely everyone can see that writing and performing a song called ‘As Long As We Beat The English’ could easily be misconstrued as expressing anti-English as well as pro-Welsh sentiments. Thanks to the band for clearing that up.
And NMEknocking the success of British bands? I assume Stereophonics must be referring to a different publication entirely from the one that has enthusiastically covered their rise to stardom and, indeed, could be said to have helped them on their way by featuring them on the NMEBrats Tour alongside Asian Dub Foundation, Warm Jets and Theaudience in 1998.
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