The first time I ever heard Manic Street Preachers was not a case of being clever and discovering them in a tiny independent shop, nope, it was Thursday night, sat with my parents and my sister watching Top Of The Pops – remember before we had a thousand channels and, gulp, before the Internet, this was where you saw things, but I never saw anything that influenced my life as much as these four beautiful creatures dancing around in bubbles. The song was You Love Us and it changed my life, for the better. It’s funny because some people look at Manics fans and think that they influenced us all to become sad self harming shells, but it was in fact the complete opposite, MSP gave me a voice when I had none, they seemed to be saying exactly what I needed to hear at times when I was merely a black hole ready to go out not fighting.
If they had split up after the first album as expected, we would have missed some of the greatest records of all time. I often wonder if Generation Terrorists would be my favourite album ever if it was the only one, the monolith that the intelligent apes klanged their bones to. But if that had happened we would not have The Holy Bible, which IS my favourite British album ever. Or Everything Must Go, my third favourite British album ever. (The Beatles is in the space between, if you wondered).
Slowly but surely I discovered that other people felt the same way. I missed the band the first time they came to Exeter after that TOTP appearance because, and it seems strange now to say it when I prefer going to gigs Enola/Alone, no one else was interested. Foolish. By the next time they came down, on the Generation Terrorists tour, supported by Kinky Machine, who would morph into the beautiful butterfly that was Rialto, I would not miss it. A swift run through of the first side of GT, Motown Junk and they were off, burning bright like Blake’s tyger that they loved. It was incredible.
I remember all the singles charting, as we were normally coming back from a lunch out and I would have to keep retuning the radio as they told us where the latest single entered the chart – remember that MSP had more Top 40 singles than ANY OTHER BAND in the 90’s. They wanted to be as big as their heroes Guns N’ Roses whilst injecting intellect into every pore of their femicentric audience, with each release there was a new quote and I ran off to the bookstore/library and learnt more than my proper teachers ever taught me.
Remember, we still were pre-Internet, so we all came together through fanzines, which were like the blogs of our day, I wrote for pretty much all of them – UK, European, American, photocopied poems sent, returned in beautiful fanzines, pictures of Camus, Hole, Warhol, Wire and of course Richey James Edwards. For those that just found MSP as ‘another’ band, it is probably impossible to see what we saw in Richey, it was like looking into a beautiful mirror, hell I could never look that good, but I knew the feelings running through that increasingly tiny body. An icon that was at home in the NME, Kerrang and Smash Hits – most of the early singles had the centre spread in SH with the lyrics printed out, about as far away from ‘She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah’ as you can get. Incredible.
Okay, let’s tell the Richey story again, as I told it to my friend Ant the other day AND HE HAD NEVER HEARD IT! It was the end of 1994, I had seen gigs on the Autumn The Holy Bible tour, with Sleeper (awesome) and Dub War (terrible) and then the three Xmas gigs were announced. I, or rather my dad, got tickets for the first two and I was supposed to go with a letter-buddy, but she attempted suicide the week before and ended up in The Priory (hence me not naming her here) but she got out to come to the gigs and that was super awesome. So, we are walking up Oxford Street and we see Richey James Edwards and a girl (Jo) outside a store. Girl pushes me to talk to him and he is super friendly and I am explaining that I have tickets for the first two gigs but I need a hotel and I explain about my diabetes and he asks Jo where to go for info and she sends me to Selfridges where I get a hotel. Richey asks to see my injection device and he seems spellbound, holding it, he proclaims “Inject yourself with pleasure” and gives me an awesome smile. Later, when he gets to the venue and girls are all crowding him, he sees me, winks and says “Hello again” and, woah, I am important!
The Tuesday gig at the Astoria, I am the first person through the doors, as we have all been outside since 2pm, I run through and hit the barrier in the Richey position. A few years later, we would all do the same thing, but hit the Nicky position. With Marion and Strangelove in support, these remain the greatest gigs of my life.
Richey disappears, February 1995, I remember my mom coming in when I was just staring at the TV (Teletext – kids!). I still feel sick thinking about it. I was in a downward spiral at that point I guess, my mom was ill and everything was burning black and white.
A Design For Life. My favourite Manic Street Preachers song ever arrives. Me and my friend Kelly stay up all night watching old VHS performances that I have bought in Camden and we hit HMV at 9AM to buy the gold CD, the silver CD and the cassette. It remains my second favourite song of all time.
Years go by, I go nuts for a while, I disappear for a while, I fall in love.
Everything my favourite band releases FOR THE NEXT TWENTY FIVE YEARS, gulp, with the one exception of Show Me The Wonder, which, let’s face it is a pretty good batting average (I know Nicky Wire would like the cricket reference), is totally magical.
Oh, sorry, did you just come to read about International Blue? It is a big storming Everything Must Go epic which seems to be another love letter to Richey from the pen of the Wire. If Rewind The Film was Manic Street Preachers ‘Nebraska’ then it seems that Resistance Is Futile might be their Born To Run. And you cannot ask for more of a compliment than that.