“So this is what 50 people looks like,” said the bouncer as I stepped into Spillers last Friday night. For after months of anticipation and mounting headlines, the threesome from Blackwood are ready to release their new album and, to mark the occasion, James Dean Bradfield popped down to their local record shop for an exclusive performance.
In the most intimate of surroundings and with an audience of 50 dedicated fans – who had all won a competition to say in less than 100 words why they should be there – James Dean Bradfield performed three classics and three more from the imminent ninth studio album, Journal for Plague Lovers.
Part catharsis and mostly just honouring the past, the new album features lyrics written by Richey Edwards before his disappearance in 1995 and music produced by punk legend Steve Albini (who also just finished Jarvis Cocker’s new album).
It’s taken the Manic Street Preachers 14 years to put music to what turned out to be their friend’s last words. Musically it’s very much the grown-up follow-up to the Holy Bible – full of love, anger, intelligence and respect. The result promises to be both a dignified reply to an absent friend and a truly great album in itself.
But back in Spillers a fan shouts out his request for This is Tomorrow. James Dean Bradfield blushes slightly and replies bluntly, “This is today, mother f*cker.”
Words: Rhian Angharad Jones